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Far From A Blank Canvas: Denver's Thriving Public Arts Scene

An enormous blue bear; an escalator with the giggles; a wild-eyed mustang; and a life-size horse atop a larger-than-life chair. These are just a few examples of unique works of art, created by renowned local and International artists as part of the Denver Public Arts Program, which now features more than 150 pieces on view throughout the Mile High City.

A testament to the city’s commitment to the arts, the Denver Public Arts Program requires that one percent of any major building project over $1 million be set aside for public art. The artwork collection has no boundaries and ranges from traditional to whimsical, from visual to audio art. A few of the pieces include:
  • “I See What You Mean” (aka The Big Blue Bear) by Lawrence Argent: One of Denver’s most iconic public arts sculptures, the 40-ft.-tall, blue bear peeks into the Colorado Convention Center in Downtown Denver, and is a popular photo op for visitors.
  • “Laughing Escalator” by Jim Green: One of the most hilarious pieces of installed artwork is the recorded audio track of people belly-laughing alongside riders on the Colorado Convention Center’s escalator.
  • “Mustang” by Luis Jimenez: A gleaming, 32-ft.-tall blue mustang greets visitors as they exit (or enter) Denver International Airport. Look for his glowing red eyes, a nod to the artists’ youth in his father’s neon sign shop.
  • “The Yearling” by Donald Lipski: A life-size horse perched atop a 21-ft. orange chair sits directly in front of the Denver Public Library. Prior to its permanent placement in Denver, the sculpture spent a year in New York City’s Central Park.
  • “Dancers” by Jonathan Borofsky: At a height of 60 ft., these whimsical dancers made of steel and fiberglass welcome theatre-goers to the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Speakers located nearby provide music to the joyful sculptures.

Denver’s Artistic Neighborhoods

Denver’s creative energy is felt within thriving artist neighborhoods around the city. From First Friday events that allow an unprecedented glimpse of local artists’ studios, gallery spaces and creative works in all mediums to large-scale art festivals in the city’s bountiful parks, thousands of art enthusiasts are attracted to the Mile High City.
  • First Fridays Art Walk (year-round): Every first Friday of the month, thousands of art lovers flood into the creative neighborhoods throughout Denver: The Arts District on Santa Fe, Tennyson Street Art District, the Golden Triangle Museum District and River North (RiNo) Art District. Several neighborhoods are also starting second Saturday’s, allowing even more opportunity to have access to amazing, local art.
  • Denver Arts Week (Nov. 4-12): From performing to visual, Denver celebrates the arts through a week of festivities in November, which includes the Starz Denver Film Festival, Night at the Museums and artist neighborhood tours and gallery showings.

Visitors can find a “Downtown Public Art Walking Tour” itinerary and detailed information about other art events at