Throw Paint on Walls, Repeat.

Wandering the streets of West Colfax is hardly a colorless experience, what with all those neon signs, cruising automobiles, and oddball but interesting characters (and trust me, I’m one of them). If you’ve wandered recently though, you’ve noticed new creative endeavors on the sides of buildings, beautifying both your physical and your creative path, and setting your wandering mind to well, wandering.

We speak to Business Improvement District Executive Director Bill Marino about the medium of art titled – The Mural.

Why murals?

COLorFAX Debut Mural, Johanna Parker

COLorFAX Debut Mural, Johanna Parker

The first thing anyone needs to know when we start talking about murals is the COLorFAX program. That was a joint conversation between WCCA (West Colfax Community Association) and 40W Arts. It’s all about [bringing] color and noticeable difference to the corridor, and we can do that through art, large-scale art. The big strategy is, if we create enough murals, that it becomes an outdoor art gallery; it pulls people here to see them, just because they’re here. In a few years, we could have 15-20, even 30, 40 murals. How cool is that? You can ride your bike, take a walk, drive, and come enjoy an outdoor art gallery.

Murals are seen and shared by an entire community. How do you pick a successful design?

We wanted to speak to the community in some way, and connect with the community in some way. Our creative briefs say that, but allow for the [artist] interpretation of being bold or subtle. We are looking to inspire, uplift, and entertain. We’re not looking yet, to push up against the limits or challenge.

Tell me about the first COLorFAX project.

Hear the Train A Humming, Bobby MaGee Lopez

Hear the Train A Humming, Bobby MaGee Lopez

The first design on King’s Rest Motel was volunteer-driven, modest money. Artist Johanna Parker penciled in the design the day before, and 18 or 19 people showed up, followed her sketch, and then she and [artist] Lonnie Hanzon did the detail work. The cost was modest because it was all volunteer, we had paint donated by Kwal Paints, and some of the other cost was donated by the BID (Business Improvement District) as an investment in improving the corridor.

What about the mural ‘Hear the Train A Humming’ by Bobby MaGee Lopez?

Astro Supply Building [where the mural is located] was executed with CGBD funds; those are federal funds that are allocated to cities to accomplish certain things, grants in place for community development. This was specifically a graffiti-mitigation strategy. That wall gets tagged all the time, and we’ve had great success where we’ve put up murals, they’ve never been touched. So we got a certain allocation from the city and there was a Call for Artists. And when we do a call, [artists] come in with their concepts, they present their concepts, and the committee makes a decision.

What additional projects are currently in progress?

Action Center Mural (in progress), Martha Pinkard-Williams

We also have a mural project underway at The Action Center [a non-profit human services agency]. The Call for Artists reads ‘The Action Center is expanding its headquarters, and this mural project is designed to create an iconic ‘landmark’ mural for the community, while embodying [our] mission of providing an immediate response to human needs and promoting pathways to self-sufficiency.”





Check out additional pictures and relevant links below!


Artist Johanna Parker:

Artist Bobby MaGee Lopez:

Artist Martha Pinkard-Williams:

Photography Richard Eversley (Action Center Mural), 40W Arts District (King’s Rest and Astro Supply Building)

It’s Gift Season in Lakewood! RTD Boxes Get Wrapped … with Artwork.

The city of Lakewood recently acquired funding from RTD Public Transit to wrap electrical boxes along the West Colfax Corridor. The city, along with 40W Arts District, worked to find a variety of graphic designers who would capture and highlight key aspects of this diverse and historical neighborhood. Multiple boxes are already complete with more to come! Check them out on the W Line Light Rail or by using the adjacent bike/walk path.

Below, 40W artist Johanna Parker invites us into her artistic process through pictures and visuals. Also check out the full list of artists, and accompanying pictures for the already completed boxes.


Unwrapping the Creative Process with Artist Johanna Parker:

Depew Street Box: “Together We Grow”
Lamar Street Box: “Buzzing with Color”

You can see more of Johanna’s work as a whimsical folk artist and illustrator at:


The Full List:

Pierce Street Box: Michelle Wolins
Teller Street Box: Michelle Wolins
Harlan Street Box: Tim Stortz
Depew Street Box: Johanna Parker
Lamar Street Box: Johanna Parker
Please note that all boxes are adjacent to the W Line Light Rail.

Thanks to the artists, the city of Lakewood, RTD, and 40W Arts District for inspiring creativity and imagination through urban art.


New Gallery Finds a Home in 40 West Arts District

Let’s jump right into the core of the matter; Faye Crowe is a talented artist (she’s also an award-winning architect). When I step into her dual-purpose business and art studio, I’m blown away by the oil paintings on the walls. A series of landscapes in the rear of the space take on an almost abstract, varnished quality and the use of color is inspiring. Additionally, I’m drawn to two side-by-side cowboy paintings. Tucked away in one corner, they appear almost as an afterthought but again the vibrant use of color combined with strong brush strokes draw my eye immediately.

Faye standing in front of some of her pieces.

Faye standing in front of some of her pieces.

Faye Crowe is a pleasure to talk to in person. She speaks confidently, but casually about her artwork, telling me that although she’s been pursuing art since before college, she took it up seriously about five years ago. “It’s a second career,” she confides to me, “and a passion.” Faye reveals that she’s influenced by her career in architecture, and by the beauty in the surrounding Colorado and New Mexico landscapes. “My paintings do carry an abstract bent,” she informs me.

Faye speaks even more passionately regarding the West Colfax Corridor. “I was on the planning committee years ago so I’ve always followed the West Corridor. I’m so happy [to] move my office and studio here. It’s so much easier than other parts of the city to get around.”

Faye tells me that with proximity to downtown Denver and the mountains, a diverse and beautiful mix of housing, and multiple options for travel including the new light rail line, the West Colfax Corridor presents an ideal location for her.

She is just as enthusiastic when it comes to 40West Arts District. “I realized after my first meeting with 40West that this was going to be a dynamic group,” she relates to me. “I love the bragging rights – saying that I’m in the 40West Arts District. It’s a great marketing tool.” Faye also speaks to the work the Arts District is doing, telling me that it’s beneficial for both the neighborhood and for individual artists.

Regarding both the West Colfax Corridor and 40West Arts, Faye decisively states, “Our time has come. It’s time to be discovered.” And with our recent certification as a Colorado Creative District (read more here), the discovery of 40West Arts District is not just here and now, it’s official.

Take a look at my pictures of Faye’s beautiful and dynamic space. She’s right next to the 40West Arts Gallery and plans to hold workshops and art openings in her new space.

Faye Crowe Fine Art
1528 Teller Street
Lakewood, CO 80214
Hours: By appointment only. Please email to schedule. Information on her website.

40W Artist Spotlight: Sean Conway

I had the pleasure of interviewing 40W member artist Sean Conway for his work in the Sci-Fi Fall Arts Harvest show in November of 2013. Sean’s work for the show was beautifully interpretive and abstract, and asked the viewer to ponder personal ideas about space, symmetry, and a sense of the unknown. Sean expounds on his work in more detail below.

1. CAN you give us a history of yourself as an artist? Who are your major influences? What mediums have you worked in and what are your favorites?

I received my bachelors of Fine Art with a concentration in printmaking from Colorado State University in 2009. My biggest influences have been the other artists that I have been lucky enough to make art with over the years. Printmaking (lithography, intaglio, woodblock cut, monotype) is the medium that I work in most of the time.

Untitled (Woodblock+Intaglio), Sean Conway2. YOUR works have a feeling of both excitement and energy but also this sense of deep calm, perhaps because of your use of circles and symmetry throughout each piece. Are you consciously trying to create a mood with your art? Does each piece have a feeling behind it or something you are specifically trying to convey?

I am very interested in creating layered atmospheres and textures, doing so in a finite space with finite shapes, but in a way that is boundless. In these works in particular, circles and symmetry help to create the infinite contained within the finite.

3. IN the painting Untitled 1 (orange, yellow), there’s a strong use of primary colors (red/orange on top of yellow on top of blue). Is this intentional and if so, why? How do such strong color choices convey your message?

As I do in much of my work, I used the same matrix various times printed in different colors to create this work. The repetition of the same shape with the same texture as well as the symmetrical composition rely on the strong distinct colors to give the piece the energy I was looking for. The primary colors, when used all together, are inherently forceful while remaining balanced.

3. IN the work Untitled 2 (green, black) it reminds me of molecules coming together or perhaps galaxies in a universe. Can you tell us what were you thinking of when you created this work? What do you want the viewer to notice?

Many of my works are inspired by imagining what the universe looks like from the outside. I like to make forms that could be either cosmically enormous or molecularly small. With this work I wanted to be looking right at the middle of everything, and I wanted everything to seem gigantic and tiny at the same time.

4. DO you map out all of your pieces beforehand or is part of the process to just allow the piece to unfold as you are creating it?

With many pieces I have a general idea of the composition that I want before I start printing, some times the piece does not change in the process, but most of the time it does. The things that change most often in the process are the colors and slight changes in positioning of the matrixes. Many times I will print a layer and then react to how the color printed before I mix the colors for the next layer, or I will decide to use a different matrix than originally planned on. If I am satisfied with a piece I stop printing, and if I am not satisfied I keep printing on it until I am satisfied, or until I ruin the piece.

5. CIRCULAR images seem to take center stage in your work. Is there something you like about the circle in general, something it represents for you?

Circles to me are an impossible shape. It is so perfect in that it connects with itself and is symmetrical, but in reality absolutely perfect circles don’t seem to exist. Since π is a seemingly infinite number, it makes me wonder if it can actually ever connect with itself. Even when drawing circles I always want to draw spirals. The universe to me would have to be a circle, an impossible infinite shape.

6. HOW did you become connected to the 40 West Arts District? What is your history with this organization?

I found out about 40 West at the opening of the West line light rail. I joined in order to be involved with a local arts organization and connect to the art community in [Lakewood].

This 40W spotlight artist was selected at random. If you are a 40W member artist and have an interest in being featured on this blog, please reach out to Liz Black at