Editor’s Note: As of September 9, 2022, Denver Walls has been postponed to 2023.

In an alley behind Denver Central Market, a painted 10-by-20-foot wall depicts the face of hip-hop artist Sa-Roc surrounded by organic lines in black and white. The piece may not seem all that special, considering it’s one among dozens in mural-filled RiNo, but savvy art-seekers know it contains a secret.

“I Am Her” (pictured) was created by Ally Grimm, a street artist who goes by the pseudonym A.L. Grime. She made the mural for Crush Walls 2020, and when viewed on a smartphone through the Artivive app, the piece plays the rapper’s music, its painted lines dance, and the eyes blink.

This fall, Grimm, 30, will exhibit the same cutting-edge blend of street art and technology during the debut of Denver Walls (September 22–26)—a branch of Hawaii-based Worldwide Walls, which beautifies cities, connects talent, and educates communities about street art. As the director of the Colorado event, Grimm plans to commission 12 to 15 pieces from local and international artists who will adorn walls in RiNo and other areas not only with paint but also with hidden virtual experiences. “Thematically, my work is about the intersection of humanity and technology,” says Grimm, whose digitally enhanced murals often feature women, music, and science. “So it felt natural and organic for me to implement that kind of intersection into the festival as well.”

Along with spotting new interactive work (as well as traditional murals) from Grimm and others, visitors with an Ethereum cryptocurrency wallet can participate in a scavenger hunt to find free non-fungible tokens—in this case, blockchain-authenticated souvenirs—embedded in locations near the art. “So you have this memento to remember that you visited the walls during Denver Walls,” Grimm says. Guests will also wander through a virtual sculpture garden; invisible to the naked eye, the pieces can only be accessed via illust.space, a web-based platform.

Grimm hopes the event will broaden people’s understanding of the medium she loves. “In my mind, street art actually refers to [everything from] murals to street photography to streetwear, because it’s walking, living art,” Grimm says. “And my definition has also expanded to digital art because it can live seamlessly anywhere. [I just want] to help show that the frontier of what’s defined as ‘art’ really is much larger than people understand.”

This article was originally published in 5280 September 2022.
Riane Menardi Morrison
Riane Menardi Morrison
Riane is 5280’s former digital strategy editor and assistant food editor. She writes food and culture content. Follow her at @riane__eats.