A few weeks ago, the team at So-Gnar wrapped up work on a few murals at Asterisk Event Venue on the corner of Arapahoe and Park Avenue in the heart of Denver. Located right across the street from So-Gnar owner/founder Pat Milbery’s iconic ‘Love This City’ piece, the freshly painted walls at Asterisk add even more color and life to the aptly named RiNo Art District. Starting with two walls in the entrance to the kid’s check-in space for Grace City Church and ending with the hallway upstairs just off the elevator – these walls are now the most colorful in the whole space. Made almost entirely of white shiplap and exposed brick, Asterisk is known for its whiteout vibes and blank canvas feeling. Taking advantage of the canvas and making the most of it, the So-Gnar team took to the walls.
Matt Hand, the lead pastor at Grace City Church, said he initially wanted to work with the So-Gnar Creative Division on the kid's area to emphasize the joy and thoughtfulness of the space, reflecting its purpose as a place for children to learn and have fun. The brightness of the colors contrast with the sterile white of the rest of the building so beautifully and highlights the versatility of both the building and the events held here. The first wall outside the kid’s rooms, coined ‘From Within’ by Milbery, is a colorful geometric landscape with the words “Faith,” “Hope”, and “Love” integrated into the design. This comes from 1 Corinthians 13… “and the greatest of these is love.” Asterisk ownership prioritizes love as part of their philosophy and has opened their doors for the past several months, donating space as an emergency homeless shelter for safe social distancing. Hand wanted to include these Christian values that are widely recognized and prevalent in secular society and can be respected by everyone. Faith, hope, and love are of the most inclusive words in the English language, and art is one of the most inclusive practices – bringing a beautiful sense of cohesion to the entire project.
Inspired by previous pieces of So-Gnar’s, Hand wanted to have some of Colorado’s most identifiable and iconic images represented in the murals at Asterisk. The vision came together with the whimsical mountains and columbines (the Colorado state flower) in the foreground. An artistic interpretation of Colorado’s Mount of the Holy Cross and a playful bird perched at the corner of the television contribute to the mural’s spirited significance. By adding accents of the church’s color palette within the greenery of the art piece, the kid's rooms have come together to create a cohesive and meaningful space.
The hallway from the elevator doors to the rooftop has also gotten quite the makeover from the creatives over at So-Gnar. Milbery’s iconic geometric theme in confluence with the Asterisk logo and stylized arrows subtly directing foot traffic from the elevator to the rooftop has entirely transformed the room. The eye naturally leads around the room following the colors onto the rooftop deck. From the drabbest public space in the building to maybe the most memorable, there’s no doubt this wall will be featured on a number of Instagram posts in the near future. The transition from the clean white of the main space downstairs to the unexpected element of color is genuinely exciting and almost gasp-worthy.
The process of the creation of these murals was so much fun to watch. The way the So-Gnar team (Milbery, Josh Deitchman, Andres Delgado, Andre Rodriguez and Andrew Brown) interact with one another made for a really happy environment and a true sense of community. They each love what they do, and their love could not be more evident in their art. I felt instantly embraced by the friendly people asking to paint my shoes while they worked on the walls and I am beyond grateful for who they are and what they do. Art transforms people and places. Transformation plays on the unpredictability of life and reflects such stunning positivity. Art, in all forms, is a redemptive process with redemptive outcomes. Watching and learning and loving how the So-Gnar team approached this process made me so hopeful. During the hard times people have always turned to art and in the past few months, I’ve noticed myself more reliant than ever on my favorite books, my comfort Netflix series, my sketchbook, etc. Artists are up lifters and community pillars. Seeing how they laughed and danced while they painted reinforced the joyful nature of the murals and the intention behind them. Art is one of the greatest coping mechanisms of all time and it’s so accessible.
Love your neighbor.
Words by Madi Hand