Since 1986, the Colorado Black Arts Festival has provided a unique space to display various forms of rich and local artistic expression — from drum-rich dance performances to colorful cultural installations. This year the art showcased the theme, “The Art of Knowing”. Many pieces highlighted the history of Black culture in Denver, this included critiquing the continued erasure of the historically Black neighborhood, Five Points, into the new hipster haven RiNo.
In the face of this charged rebranding effort, the Black Arts Festival cultivated a space of open and diverse artistic exchange from July 13 – 15. As Meow Wolf enters Denver’s art scene, there is an intention to recognize Colorado artists and the history of art in the Mile High City. This year, Meow Wolf was a supporting sponsor for The Art Garden at the Colorado Black Arts Festival which provided hands-on space for families to make art with local artists as well as a place for artists to display their work. Featured artists at the Meow Wolf booth were: Cal Duran, JavonTheUnique, and Kevin Mitchell (IG: @volarduran, @javontheunique).
Many artists were present and the work of Donté Janae (IG: @dontejanae) and Regine Cotton (IG: @adore_regine) especially stood out. Donté’s intricate life-like portraits brought new beauty and perspective to cultural icons like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Kendrick Lamar. Regine spoke about the power of Women, their bodies and how she articulates strength with her vibrant paintings.
GRASP (Gang Rescue And Support Project) as well as other advocacy, food, and clothing merchants found space at the festival. Part of “The Art of Knowing” for the Black Arts Festival meant creating a space for artists to actively engage with local Denverites and art lovers from around the country. Together, members of the community celebrated Denver’s history in the form of the arts, activism and education.
Throughout City Park there was a common theme of happy people, curious neighbors, community organizations, public servants, festival veterans, and new families all eager to support their community. Paired with the annual Juneteeth celebration in Five Points on June 16th, these two events are an opportunity to preserve and celebrate the joy, entrepreneurship, and resilience of the African diaspora in Colorado.
Guest Authors: Aerik Francis & Gabriela Atsepoyi