A former commercial hub looks to redraw its economic future as the city’s next great art district.
Colorful polka dots adorn the sidewalk leading to 40 West Arts Gallery just off West Colfax Avenue and Teller Street, a purposeful touch of whimsy amid Edgewood’s landscape of warehouses and big-box stores. A cultural hot spot from the 1930s through the ’50s thanks to its location along U.S. 40—then Denver’s main thoroughfare—area businesses took a back seat to the Mile High City’s up-and-coming downtown when the interstates arrived toward the end of the 1950s. But the new gallery is part of a blossoming nonprofit art district determined to restore the neighborhood to its former glory through creativity.
“People want inspiration, to be engaged, to feel emotions,” says Bill Marino, chairman of the 40 West Arts District, which launched in June 2012. “What better way to get that than arts and culture?”
Currently, visitors can view rotating exhibits at the gallery, where more than 100 member artists showcase works such as Cheryl Rudd’s fine art photography, or catch stage performances by Edge Theatre Company. Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design—and its four boundary-pushing galleries—also sits within walking distance. Another serendipitous bonus: The light rail’s new W Line stops at Lamar Street and 13th Avenue, just four blocks from 40 West Arts Gallery.
The budding district is getting some help from the state, too: Governor John Hickenlooper formally designated it as an emerging creative district last March. It’s a tangible step toward art as an economic development strategy, something the governor outlined in the Colorado Blueprint, his 2011 comprehensive economic development plan. (See also: the rise of River North and the resurgence of downtown Salida.)
The 40 West Arts District may not be attracting Santa Fe–size throngs yet. But by spring, district officials expect to add two new galleries and some performance venues, and an on-site cafe and a wine bar are slated to open in the gallery next year. If history indeed repeats itself, Edgewood looks poised to rise again. 40westarts.org
October’s can’t-miss events.
40 West Arts RIOT II
Catch ’60s music veteran Ian Dunlop at this retrospective on the golden days of rock ’n’ roll.
Arts Harvest Exhibition
Oct. 18–Nov. 3
Artists explore the final frontier during a galactic-themed showcase, part of the annual Denver Arts Week.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Oct. 18–Nov. 17
Edge Theatre Company stages the 1955 Pulitzer Prize–winning drama about a Southern family’s internal struggles.