The Local newsletter is your free, daily guide to life in Colorado. For locals, by locals. Sign up today!
When homeowners want to update their living room walls, they often turn to a bucket of paint. When Denver wants to liven up its gathering spaces, it turns to Pedro Barrios and Jaime Molina. Together, the artistic duo have painted dozens of murals throughout the city, including the large Denver Art Museum-sponsored piece on the wall of 1515 Restaurant, and the colorful abstraction on the wall of Rebel Restaurant. “We strive to bring gallery-level work to outside pieces,” Barrios says, “and Denver has been really receptive to murals as public art.”
The pair began working together five years ago, quickly discovering that they share a rare artistic compatibility—and desire to reflect the communities in which their murals exist. While the cool color palette, vibe, and central character (often a bearded figure Molina dreamed up years ago) of their murals feel similar, each creation taps into the personality of the neighborhood. A piece revealed last summer at Colfax and Raleigh in the Sloan’s Lake neighborhood, for example, includes a guitar and bubbles, symbols of Latino culture’s oral history tradition and a nod to the neighborhood’s roots. “There’s no one defining aesthetic for Denver,” Molina says. “Every little pocket has its own story. We just try to help tell it.”
Later this year, the duo will tell their story of Union Station with a mural outside the new Whole Foods Market there; next year, they’ll interpret RiNo with a sculpture project for the city’s still-to-be-built (and yet unnamed) park. In each case, they’ll play off each other’s strengths: Barrios’ abstractions complementing Molina’s figure drawing. “It’s like being in a band,” Molina says. “Everybody gets the chance to show off a little bit.”