The Mile High City’s streets will get a futuristic facelift next month when the RiNo Art District will host the first iteration of the city’s new international mural festival, Denver Walls. The 10-day global street art event—a version of the renowned Honolulu-based fest, World Wide Walls—will run from September 22 through October 3, and will feature murals and augmented reality installations from more than a dozen local creators and artists from around the globe, along with interactive workshops, art battles, and, of course, block parties.

The inaugural Front Range fest makes Denver the 25th city to host a version of World Wide Walls—which was founded by artist Jasper Wong in 2010—joining cities ranging from Tokyo to Doha to Washington, D.C.

“I want people to think about Denver and think about us as innovators and as people who are changing street art,” says Ally Grimm, director of Denver Walls and a local street artist. “When I leave Denver to paint for myself, I often get asked why I live here, and why I don’t live in a place like Miami or LA or wherever else. That’s one of the perceptions that I want to change.” ​​

Spearheaded by Grimm, who paints under the alias A.L. Grime, the Five Points–based nonprofit festival has been several years in the making. After Grimm’s attempt to launch independently in 2022 was scuttled because of a last-minute sponsorship snafu, the team established a partnership with RiNo Art District, forging a new event to replace the Art RiNo festival.

For both Grimm and RiNo Art District’s executive director Charity Von Guinness, who succeeded RiNo Art District co-founder Tracy Weil in August 2022, creating that buzz for Denver Walls meant not only prioritizing diverse, contemporary art, but also creating a scene that was intentional about nurturing artists and the greater community. “RiNo is one of the most diverse communities in Denver,” Von Guinness says. “So how do we maintain that, honor that, and reflect that in the art that’s being done?”

Denver Walls director Ally Grimm, aka A.L. Grime (left), and RiNo Art District executive director Charity Von Guinness. Photo courtesy of SideCar PR

Tapping into a global network of artists and Colorado’s creative community made that mission easy to achieve, Grimm says, and the lineup offers myriad viewpoints and styles.“I want every child and adult to be able to resonate with something deeply [at Denver Walls],” Grimm says.

Muralists such as Julia Chon, George F. Baker III, and Berlin-based James Bullough are confirmed for next month’s event; Denver Walls will announce more of the lineup, as well as mural locations, on Instagram leading up to the festival’s opening date.

Painting will kick off on the weekend of September 22, though most of the festival’s official events are slated for the end of the week. Beyond large-scale murals, attendees can look forward to experiencing art through new digital forms, including a virtual scavenger hunt and an augmented reality sculpture garden, which attendees can view using the web-based platform on their phones.

The goal of the digital programming, Grimm says, is two-pronged. She wants Denver Walls to serve as a space for educating local artists on new digital tools to help adapt to the rapidly evolving art world.

She also hopes to challenge the misconception that anything artistic on the street is simply graffiti. “Graffiti is one style—it has its own history and its own culture behind it—and then there are murals,” Grimm says. “And now, we have these other things, these augmentations that we don’t see in day-to-day life or in our normal reality, but that can exist through a digital reality,” Grimm says. “At the same time, we’re calling back to the graffiti crews that started things here, and making sure that we honor native cultures, and folks who have been doing this way beyond what exists now.”

Madi Skahill
Madi Skahill
Madi Skahill is 5280’s former associate digital editor.