I love street art…
Most of the memory on my camera is taken up with photos I’ve snapped here and there of random posters, painting and other street media. I love walking around a corner and stumbling upon a newly spray painted stencil on the sidewalk or a poster glued to the side of a power box. While I’ve never spent a ton of time in the big coastal cities of LA or NYC, where the street art scene is really fantastic, I’m still impressed with the amount of diversity beginning to emerge within the Denver street art community.
With all my love of street art and the creativity it puts out in the community, I still had one horrible little stereotype. I’m ashamed to admit it, because I didn’t realize it existed until very recently. You see, I still imagined street artists as this rough and tumble ragtag group of guys that were just out to circumvent the law by posting art in illegal places around the city. I know, it’s awful that I had such a one dimensional view of street artists, but all of that changed when I opened up my inbox this morning and read an email from bunny M.
If you haven’t heard of bunny M, then perhaps you’ve seen her work plastered on walls around Denver’s various neighborhoods. She also did a mural in the Berkeley neighborhood on the side of a building on Tennyson. Her work is fluid and natural. The lines on the illustrations in her art seem to grow organically around the paper creating a beauty you wouldn’t expect to see on the alleyway wall of a building in Cap Hill.
When Unseen Denver presented me with the opportunity to ask bunny M a few questions, I was completely thrilled to get the chance. So, I sent her an email with a bunch of questions. The response I got from her completely changed the way I picture street artists, because it was not at all what I expected. It was thoughtful, positive and very uplifting and I feel very fortunate to have been able to talk to her about her art and what inspires her here in Denver as well as her other favorite stomping ground: New York City.
M grew up in Denver and has roots here, but she says it wasn’t until she visited NYC in her youth that she realized how much possibility the world held. New York City put a wanderlust in her and ever since then, she’s travelled extensively, but has always returned to either Denver or New York. About NYC, she explains, “…it has some mythical magical powers in my mind, and I can’t help but be drawn back to that place often.”
When it comes to Denver’s burgeoning street art community, bunny is excited by the possibilities of a city that’s still sort of finding its niche when it comes to street art. Her reasons for displaying her art here in Denver are highly sentimental and closely connected to the fact that this is where she grew up.
“Denver to me is a perfect place for some of my pieces right now,” she says. “There are many beautiful walls here, many alleyways full of character; I always have the sentiment of sharing something that is very close to my heart with a place that has afforded me so many wonderful experiences throughout my life thus far.”
Like many artists, whether their canvas is stretched across a frame or spanned across a barren wall, bunny M finds her inspiration from nature. When I asked her who some of her influences are, she gave most of the credit to nature saying she enjoyed studying the lines and patterns on plants at close range. It makes sense then that one of the places in Denver where she finds the most inspiration is at the Botanic Gardens. “I adore it there and have spent more afternoons than I can remember drawing and thinking there,” M exclaims. “I remember working on a drawing before I moved to NYC, coming back 6 months later, and finding the pen I lost that day right before my move stuck in the cracks of one of my favorite benches there!”
While she may find some of her organic inspiration in the flora and fauna found in Denver, it seems as though she recharges her creative batteries in New York City. “That city has some energy in it that is akin to a star being born, in that all the elements are unstable, changing, influencing one another, and forming something completely new and awe inspiring because of it. Maybe I’m romanticizing [it], but in NYC the work on the streets in general looks less like propaganda to me and more like something released helplessly, and hopelessly, from the unconscious (and I like that).”
While bunny M may be a prolific artist on the streets of Denver and NYC, there are other up and coming artists in Denver. One in particular, Square, is an artist that she has worked with in the past and says she would enjoy working with him again saying, “He is one of the most talented painters I have ever known.” As far as other artists she would love to work with on Denver’s streets, the anonymous artist that does wheat pastes of polar bears and panthers out of multicolored triangles has piqued her interest.
When it comes to the street art scene in Denver, I agree with bunny when she says, “Denver is ready for the challenge of it, I feel. There are many people living here right now that appreciate the fun in finding something unusual where there used to be nothing out of the ordinary, the breaking away from the sterility and uniformity of an artless city (or at least one where much of the truly modern and new art was kept out of public sight).”
I have to say, to hear an artist encapsulate the way I feel about the Denver street art scene is a pretty wonderful thing. It excites me to think that there are many young artists out there similar to M (perhaps not in style, but in sentiment) who are excited to take Denver and turn it into a city where the alleyways and building walls are a playground for art to inspire and delight the masses and not just the select few who buy a ticket to an art museum.