CRUSH celebrates art, urban beautification, creativity, and culture by enriching a community through an arts festival like no other. They believe public art leads to an improved community as a catalyst for safety, cleanliness, creativity, and conversation. Centered around empowering artists, CRUSH (Creative Rituals Under Social Harmony), is committed to reflecting and diversifying the urban landscape and the voice of a community, bringing art out of the galleries and into the streets.
CRUSH (est. 2010), finds its home in the RiNo (River North) Art District of Denver, CO. It celebrates the craft of graffiti and street artists who bring life to walls while maintaining the unique cultural identity in this evolving community. The annual event transforms streets and alleys into one of the largest open-air galleries.
CRUSH also raises awareness of the cultural significance and importance of art for all ages and demographics that may not have the opportunity to experience it otherwise. CRUSH offers inspiration through this urban craft. The organization serves as a forum for community engagement and creative expression, inviting locals and visitors to engage in this rich history and through forward-thinking public art.
Originally centered around the EXDO Event Center, the event relocated after three years to the long alley between 27th/26th & Larimer and Walnut Street, now dubbed “Art Alley.”
Sold Magazine will be on hand for the entire week, but I had a chance to speak to Robin Munro & Lindsey R. Hendershot, (with a few comments from Jonathan Lamb), while they were busy bringing the final touches together. My opportunity to speak with these bad-ass curators before the 2017 Festival began, told us a bit more about the struggle & successes of making an annual art festival come to fruition.
Sold Mag: This is the 7th year of CRUSH, first let me say, Congratulations! it is a huge undertaking to take on, and to see growth over that many years is really exciting for the culture. Tell me about the momentum that has grown since 2010?
Robin: I come from a graffiti b-boy background, and I just wanted to bring that to my community. Once the project got too big, we collaborated with Like Minded Productions and Jonathan Lamb in order to facilitate a larger footprint in the RiNo Art District. That same year, CRUSH was awarded the Mayor’s Design Award from Denver Mayor, Michael Hancock. This was the point our project really began to turn into something bigger than I imagined with sponsors, partners, and bringing all of these artists that I've met over the years from around the world to my backyard.
Lindsey: As a financial advisor for a bank, and daughter of a commercial painter - this has been the biggest leap of faith I have taken in my career. It has been scary, but I feel like I bring my experience to the table, and these artists really need it!
SM: What have been the biggest obstacles in growing this project to what it's become in 2017?
L: In order to accommodate the artist, they each need space, and capacity became an issue. The relationship building with the community had to be a bigger part of the picture. Obtaining our 501(c)(3) status this year was a hurdle, but a necessary one. We decided to for-go the marijuana industry sponsors, because by law they are not allowed to donate to non-profit organization. It was a decision we are ok with, but an unexpected challenge.
J: Balance. Running my own business, life obstacles, and managing the responsibilities between our small team.
R: Bridging the gap between graffiti culture, and the large scale murals of today.
SM: How does the diverse background of the 3 of you combine to bring the entire event together?
L: My dad was a commercial painter, mother was in finance which I also followed in that path & bring that skillset to the table. But getting involved with this project, I have drawn on what I learned from watching my father. These walls are enormous, and planning the projects in advance with supplies is crucial. But still my main contribution as fund raiser, is where I feel most comfortable.
J: I have a real no fuck given attitude when it comes to running my own business for 10 years, so its a good balance for the other two curators.
R: Being the local artist, I'm more of the easy going team member. My graff background helped with the genuine connections I had from my past, and made it a place for my international friends to feel comfortable coming here & enjoying a great experience and making a real impact on not only the street art & graffiti scene, but the art world as well.
SM: How has the recent legalization in CO impacted your growth?
L: As I mentioned earlier, we no longer have marijuana sponsors, but we also appreciated that our other sponsors weren't concerned either way. CO has adjusted to the culture, and local business owners have seen positive impacts on the rise. We see a very positive response, but this will be the first year we are not sponsored by the dispensaries.
SM: Do you see Crush expanding into other cities like POW WOW? Or should it stay specific to Denver?
L: The biggest decision in becoming a 501(c)(3) status had to do with growth. The issues we face here in Denver will not be the same in different cities, but at the same time we will have new obstacles as well. We are open to expanding CRUSH into a second city, hopefully in the near future!
SM: Anything else you'd like to add about this year's upcoming event? We are all looking forward to all of the events, is there anything you would like to highlight for our readers?
R: I'd like to say that the local businesses, and property owners in and around the RiNo Art District have really made this event special. With all sorts of uncertainties, there is a beautiful community of people here who want to share with everyone who comes out to see the art work and interact with the artist next week. The people of Denver have been great to us, and we thank them.
L: The opportunities for new and local artists like Thomas Evans, have really helped promote their work onto a larger scale is an exciting plus to my job. I also want to emphasize that all of the events are for all ages. There are many things going on all week long, and they are all family friendly, and free to the public!
SM: Thank you for taking the time to talk with me, we are excited to be a part of the Festival this year.
Check out the website for the full list of artists, and keep up with all of the excitement this week with Sold Magazine! We will be live streaming at 4;20 EST everyday from 9/12 - 9/18 on our Instagram page.