The Crush Walls Festival Has Been Taking Art to the Streets of RiNo Since Its Inception Ten Years Ago

The Crush Walls Festival Has Been Taking Art to the Streets of RiNo Since Its Inception Ten Years Ago

  • Megan Douglas
  • 09/6/19

Spotlighting local, national, and international artists, CRUSH has been a catalyst for creative expression and collective gatherings while being instrumental in the transformation of the neighborhood.

If you’ve ever found yourself in RiNo, you’ve experienced the impact of the CRUSH WALLS festival firsthand. CRUSH helped RiNo develop the sort of grungy-charm that we’ve all come to love. Every wall, corner, nook, and cranny of the neighborhood is oozing with creativity and expression. The world-renowned artists that gather in Denver for CRUSH take pride in bringing these streets to life. A decade’s worth of passion has helped CRUSH prompt hundreds of inspiring murals across RiNo, reaching a pinnacle of 80+ public and commissioned street art exhibits last year alone.

Now in its 10th year, CRUSH WALLS 2019 will be taking things to an unprecedented level, curating a 360-degree art festival unlike any other it has offered before. Join us the week of September 2 – 8 as the world’s best artists transform RiNo with new murals, immersive experiences, and most importantly, a standout opportunity to champion the arts to unite people through creativity in Denver and around the world.There’s no better way to dive into the street art scene in Denver than exploring the neighborhood’s streets and alleyways as they’re transformed once again next month!

Disclaimer: West + Main is a proud sponsor of CRUSH!

CRUSH Bucket List:

Watch a Paint-Off

Secret Walls, on Friday, September 6, will pit artists against one another—and the clock—in a 90-minute live painting battle. The location will be disclosed via Instagram the week of the festival; spectators decide who wins.

Take a Tour

Erin Spradlin and James Carlson, proprietors of Denver Graffiti Tour, host two-hour guided walks through RiNo all year, but be sure to book early if you want a spot during CRUSH Walls. (The new Wine & Walls version includes a stop at the Infinite Monkey Theorem.)

Buy Some Merch

You can find CRUSH Walls swag at RiNo Made inside Zeppelin Station. For everything from canvas works to stickers by local street artists, check out festival founder Robin Munro/Dread’s new Headquarters Gallery in the alley behind Denver Central Market.

See a Show

Elyria-Swansea’s opening-this-month Mission Ballroom will host live art installations followed by a performance by Mexican pop-rocker Natalia Lafourcade to close out the fest on Sunday, September 8.

The Do’s + Don’ts of CRUSH:


  • Tag the artist anytime you share someone’s work on social media. Most murals now include the creator’s Instagram handle, but if you don’t know it, use #tagartist to encourage others to help you ID the maker. This kind of exposure is a major way street artists grow their reputations and, thus, get commissions.
  • Read the room er, alley before you engage artists at work in conversation. If they have headphones on or are high up on a ladder, they’re probably not interested in chatting. Otherwise, feel free to ask questions; many artists enjoy talking about their processes.


  • Take pictures of artists at work without asking if it’s OK. Some of those who still work underground don’t want their likenesses spread around.

Use photos of murals for any commercial purposes—e.g., in photo prints to sell or marketing materials for a business—without permission. For personal uses such as, say, the background of the engagement photo you use on your wedding save-the-date, it’s good form to credit the artist.

Crush by the Numbers

428 – Artist applications submitted, up from 270 in 2018
80 – Colorado artists chosen by a panel of eight judges
16 – Invited national and international artists
80 – Murals that will be created over the week of the festival across 30 blocks
~600 – Cans of spray paint provided to artists
40% – Estimated percentage of female artists

Crush Vocab 101

Buffing: When a property owner, local government, or artist paints over an existing work, either because it’s unsanctioned or because the wall is being prepped for new art.

Graffiti: Writing that is normally spray-painted and can be, but isn’t always, illicit; embellishment (think: bubble lettering, shadows) distinguishes graffiti from a tag.

Mural: A large-scale artwork created using spray paint and/or media like traditional paint, paint markers, and 3D add-ons.

Street Art: An umbrella term that encompasses many forms of art (commissioned and illegal), from graffiti writing and murals to stencils and stickers.

Tag: A one-dimensional, usually spray-painted name or symbol; almost always illegal and found on blank spaces or atop other works.

Wheatpasting: A form of street art in which paper prints are affixed to surfaces with a clear, durable liquid adhesive—traditionally, wheat flour or starch mixed with water (above, an example by Denver’s Koko Bayer).

Thanks to our friends at 5280 Magazine for compiling the history, statistics, details and everything you need to know to enjoy CRUSH. Check it out.



Work With Megan

I genuinely care about my clients. (In fact, they’re often surprised by how much so!) But this is a major step in anyone’s life and I want it to be the best experience possible.

Follow Megan