Square on 21st Pop-Up Park

Location: Downtown Denver between Larimer and Lawrence Streets in the Ballpark Neighborhood

Client: Visit Denver, Downtown Denver Partnership & Denver Parks and Recreation

Artist’s Involved: Pat Milbery, Jason Graves, Pat McKinney & Remington Robinson

Medium: Hot solvent paint on asphalt

Size of Surface: 47’ x 78’

Duration of Installation: 5 days

Project Goals: With the mountains right in our backyard, Denver and Colorado in general is known for being home to active residents who love the outdoors. While there are some amazing spaces such as Washington Park and City Park around the city, Downtown Denver is a green-space desert for the most part. Denver Parks and Recreation along with Visit Denver and the Downtown Denver Partnership set out to do something that had yet to be done in a big city and identified spaces around downtown that could benefit from a pop-up park.

Wading into unknown territory, the “Square on 21st” as it became known, occupied a little-used block in the Ballpark Neighborhood, two blocks up from Coors Field. With a small stage, dog park, food trucks and more, the park aimed to be a gathering place for residents in the neighborhood, Rockies fans heading to/from games and anyone who needed to break up their daily city routine with some fresh air.

The Creative Division was approached to both paint a large-scale mural on the street as well as coordinate the painting of 60+ tree planter boxes that dotted the park. Drawing on their experience with the 38th Street Underpass project, the artists implemented Eventbrite again, allowing folks to sign up for 2-4 hours shifts. The planter boxes were then painted a color-block style over the course of a weekend and while the Spring weather didn’t quite cooperate, fun was had by all.

The concept for the giant dahlia the artists ultimately painted was a play on the Colorado flag but rather than going for the obvious Columbine, they wanted to create a shape that would complement the cyclical nature of the “C” in the flag. Weaving in the mountains and adding movement with the leaves created a piece that not only was visually stunning on the ground but looked even better from an aerial view. As the park was only implemented from June-August with the art to remain on the asphalt after, the artists researched into different types of paint to use and ultimately went with a hot solvent paint that has withstood numerous dance floors and cars driving on it.

Dubbed the “crown jewel of Denver” by Mayor Hancock, the Square on 21st was a success in terms of media coverage and demonstrated that there is a high demand for green spaces like pop-up parks.