Denver’s burgeoning art scene got even bigger in November when the long-gestating Mike Wright Gallery opened its doors in a renovated historic building in LoDo. The gallery’s namesake artist and its director, Sara Melzer, have spent the past year transforming a 3,000-square-foot former office space into what they hope becomes the Mile High City’s next big hub for contemporary art.

Melzer and Wright say the gallery isn’t trying to cater to the pretentious crowd. Instead, their hope is to make the gallery an accessible downtown destination, where art aficionados and working stiffs alike can unite over drinks and conversation. “We want people to come here and hang out, not just make a pass and look at the art,” Melzer says.

If the gallery’s current display is any indication, that goal is attainable. Artists from near and far are represented in the abstract sculptures and dramatic, intriguing paintings pepper the walls to give the space a bold and playful vibe. Among the standouts are Welsh artist Ed Fariburn’s striking prints of human faces made from world maps (he made an exclusive Colorado edition just for the Mike Wright Gallery).

A grand opening date is yet to be determined, but Melzer and Wright say they’re aiming for January or February.

Cheers: Tired of your usual post-work haunts? Check out the Mike Wright Gallery’s daily happy hour. The gallery’s unique statement pieces are perfect to discuss over craft beers and wines (Breckenridge Brewery and the Infinite Monkey Theorem are a few of the local vendors on tap).

Coming Soon: An artists’ studio and framing shop are in the works, with the specific goal of helping emerging talent take off. Keep an eye out for special events—like beer-making lessons and wine tastings—as well.

1412 Wazee St., 303-590-9800

—Image courtesy of Champa Street Productions