Sep 24, 2023 - Things to Do

5 tips on how to interpret and understand street art

A mural on the Denver Graffiti Tour located at Crema in RiNo. Photo: John Frank/Axios

Denver street art and graffiti have become such a draw that you can take a guided tour.

What's happening: Denver Graffiti Tour began in 2018 and offers guided 2-hour walks covering 20 blocks in the RiNo Art District most weekends.

What to know: As Denver Walls takes over RiNo, we asked co-owner Jana Novak for tips on how to interpret and understand street art. Here's what she told us.

  1. "You have to think of it as a voice for the voiceless." Street art began as a way for African American and Hispanic communities to create their own museums and galleries on the street, often because they couldn't get into professional ones. "It is the very deconstruction of art itself."
  2. Given its roots, "it is an inherently political medium," she says. "It always has some sort of message to it, and that's the most important thing to understand."
  3. "It's always important to dig deeper into street art and to understand it's a medium that's often looked down upon but it's an art that people have poured their heart and soul into."
  4. It takes a lot of effort, given the size of canvas and the complex arrangements of lines and colors. "It's an extreme sport of art form."
  5. It's ephemeral. "You have to have your wits and eyes about you [because] something new pops up every time."

Go deeper: Denver Walls takes local street art international

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