Street art meets fashion show meets live music meets dance party—all under one roof. Westword Artopia curates a unique mix of Denver’s art-centric communities, making it one of our favorite annual happenings. This year’s event, held last Saturday at #DenverDanceDistrict venue City Hall, was dedicated to the city’s most iconic streets – Larimer, Santa Fe, Federal and Colfax – and the artists that bring them to life.
From the live street art competition to the signature Whiteout Fashion show, here’s the night’s standout moments.
Silent Disco, Everywhere
Everybody loves a good silent disco. But, Artopia took it to a whole new level by veering away from the typical designated dance area. Attendees and artists alike were given access to their headphones all night long and permission to roam anywhere in the venue. Total silent discoing freedom—yes please!
Blunts & Booze & Bustin’ A Move (on the Runway)
Just when we thought local fashion brand and street-style staple, Jiberish, couldn’t get any cooler … well, they did. Models took the runway for the Whiteout Fashion Show with beer bottles and blunts in-hand, stopping mid-walk to take a swig of beer and spark a J. Though we were unable to verify, we have a sneaky suspicion the joints were provided by the event’s cannabis sponsor, Good Chemistry, which just so happens to be one of our fave local dispensaries. Needless to say, the very 420-friendly crowd went wild. As did we.
The fashion show finale was a tie for best catwalk moment, as dancers took the stage and instantly infused fashion with hip hop moves that could make Bad Gal RiRi herself envious.
Political Statements Aplenty
The political commentary at Artopia could not be missed. Artists touched a wide range of topics from the state of our country and new president, to highlighting city-specific issues such as homelessness, gentrification and rapid growth.
We were personally moved most by art installation from Bobby Lefebre (reppin’ the Federal hood), as his work spoke to the changes and repercussions of Denver’s gentrification. His eloquently written poetry asked: “Remember the artists, Denver? The ones who put you on, molded your spirit and taught you how to fly? Remember the working class, Denver? The ones who built your infrastructure, the ones who picked you up when circumstances brought you to your knees?”
Ghost Lenz, a photographer holdin’ it down for Colfax, was another standout exhibit. His artist statement read:
“…Colfax, Denver’s seductive misfit angel. Cradling much of the City’s energy and identity…an artery flowing with complexity, compassion and chaos…Colfax sings her song of survival, laughter, madness and magic. And I love her for it.”
Post fashion show, the main floor quickly morphed into an urban landscape featuring reggae tunes from The Late Ones and a live paint-off with some of Denver’s most-loved Larimer street artists including Pat Milbery, Chris Haven, Casey Kawaguchi, Scot Lefavor and Tuke One. Each artist was given an 8×8-foot canvas, 1.5 hours and limited to black paint only. The outcome, badass.