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—Paul Heaston’s drawing of a Denver fire station.

Pack Mentality

Denver embraces a pub crawl for artists.

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We all know Denverites gather in bunches to drink beer (pub crawls) and ride bicycles (cruiser rides). But, it turns out, Mile High City–dwellers also converge for a more artistic endeavor: drawing. It’s a local expression of an international trend demonstrated by at least 10,000 members of the nonprofit Urban Sketchers each month. Founded in 2009 by Seattle Times cartoonist Gabriel Campanario, the organization encourages artists to meet up for freehand sketching sessions in metropolitan areas. “Going out and drawing on your own is like the difference between plucking around on a guitar in your bedroom and joining a garage band,” says Jim Richards, a member of Urban Sketchers’ advisory board. “You want to keep up with, learn from, and be inspired by each other.”

Some of this interaction happens online, where 800 Urban Sketchers correspondents contribute to 50 regional blogs in 30 countries. Although Denver doesn’t have an official chapter, there is an official Facebook group, and Urban Sketchers correspondent and visual artist Paul Heaston also runs SketchCrawl (think bar crawls for artists) one Sunday a month in the metro area. The burgeoning group typically attracts about 20 pen and pencil wielders. This month Richards will lead a special SketchCrawl through central Denver to iconic spots such as the Capitol building, Larimer Square, and Union Station for the national meeting of the American Society of Landscape Architects on November 21. This particular jaunt is reserved for registered conference attendees; however, Heaston also plans to organize a second, more casual SketchCrawl open to anyone on the same day. “Urban sketching is such a public and inclusive activity,” he says, “so I think anybody should be able to participate.” urbansketchers.org

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This article appeared in the November 2014 issue of .

Mary Clare Fischer, Assistant Editor

Mary Clare Fischer co-edits 5280’s Compass, Adventure, and Culture sections; writes for multiple sections of the magazine; and blogs weekly about health and wellness for 5280.com.

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