Charlie Billingsley is debunking the narrative around Black women. “I want to share our celebratory side,” the 33-year-old Denverite says. That jubilation is evident in the Museum for Black Girls, an immersive pop-up exhibition the photographer debuted in 2019. Before the museum re-emerges this month in a surprise location—keep an eye on—Billingsley told us about the Colorado spots that bring her joy.

The Source Hotel

In addition to curating the Museum for Black Girls, Billingsley works as a fashion photographer—and her favorite muse is Black women. “My work is about capturing our vibrancy and beauty,” she says. Billingsley likes to bring her subjects to the Source Hotel in RiNo to pose with the “cute, retro couches bathed in gorgeous light.”

Balloon Pop Studio

Some use paint to create art. Others turn to clay. Aisha Glenn-Bracey’s medium? Balloons. The Colorado Springs event planner employs orbs of helium to craft elaborate sculptures for events such as weddings and parties. “I love that she found a way to transform something we’ve always used,” Billingsley says. “She makes them couture.”


Busy museum founders need to take a break for brunch, too. Billingsley’s go-to eatery is Mimosas, a restaurant in Five Points where neon lights shaped like Champagne flutes adorn the walls. “Their fried green tomatoes and beignets are amazing,” she says.

Blonc Virgin Hair Extensions Retail Boutique

As a child, Billingsley got her hair styled in her grandmother’s kitchen. One of the museum’s recurring spaces, Grandma’s Kitchen, is an ode to that memory. Visitors pose in the golden salon chair at the center of the floral-wallpapered room. “So many of our visitors have the same story about sitting in the kitchen getting their hair done,” Billingsley says. These days, she goes to Blonc, an online shop with a brick-and-mortar location in LoDo. “It’s no grandma’s kitchen,” she says, “but they do a good job.”

Coors Field mural

Photo courtesy of Giovannie aka Just

Most of the artists featured in the Museum for Black Girls pop-ups are, well, Black girls. But Giovannie Dixon, a mile-high muralist who goes by the name Just, impressed Billingsley enough to make the lineup (his painting of Insecure star Issa Rae appeared in the museum in 2021). “He gets so much detail into black-and-white images just using spray paint,” Billingsley says. Find an example of his art on a building across Blake Street from Coors Field.

This article was originally published in 5280 February 2022.
Angela Ufheil
Angela Ufheil
Angela Ufheil is a Denver-based journalist and 5280's former digital senior associate editor.