A muralist hard at work. Photo courtesy of Street Wise Boulder.

Street Wise Boulder Brings Together Art and Activism

In Arts & Culture by Sarah KutaLeave a Comment

Maybe you’ve noticed: Boulder is a lot more colorful these days.

And it’s not just the fall leaves starting to change colors, either. The city has tons of new murals around town, painted with vibrant pinks, bright blues, rich reds and golden yellows.

The new murals stem from Street Wise Arts, a nonprofit arts organization in Boulder with a pretty awesome mission: “To vision, advocate and implement community art, mural projects and art education in order to build community, amplify cultural diversity and engage each other in social advocacy and dialogue.”

The organization advocates for collaboration and the creation of a rich cultural landscape, as well as artist inclusivity.

This weekend, the organization is hosting its second Street Wise Boulder festival. The festival runs Sept. 7-13 in various locations around Boulder, including virtual events.

The festival bills itself as an “ARTivism festival” that’s driven by social activism. What does that mean exactly? Well, more than 30 artists will be painting murals on 20 public walls, many of which will help shine a light on various social issues.

The idea here? That murals can be a vessel for change and connection within the community.

“Each mural will respond to important current social issues like Black Lives Matter, public health, climate crisis, indigenous rights, immigration, LGBTQ+ rights and more in order to promote and create an empowered and equitable society,” according to the festival’s website.

A muralist hard at work. Photo courtesy of Street Wise Boulder.

You can take a self-guided walking or biking tour of the murals and watch the artists work. In addition to an epic week of mural-painting, there are other events happening, too.

On Friday, Sept. 4, there’s a First Friday event at the Bus Stop Gallery in the NoBo Art District featuring small works and prints by this year’s festival mural artists.

Then, on Wednesday, Sept. 9, the festival is hosting an “Art & Activism” panel featuring visiting muralists and Boulder artists and activities. This is a virtual event, with a live online stream on Zoom. You can register here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIvdu-grDMsGdNv4gJN2fdyG2BVgWfdvIMH

On Sept. 12, there’s a women’s spray painting workshop and an artist reception at the Bus Stop Gallery in North Boulder.

A muralist hard at work. Photo courtesy of Street Wise Boulder.

2020 Mural Sites

Of course, you’re required to wear a mask and maintain at least six feet of social distance from everyone else when you attend these events. Festival organizers are asking that you take any and all precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

If you just want to walk around and scope out the muralists hard at work, here’s a map of all the 2020 mural sites.

“As the murals go up, we invite you to (respectfully) watch the artists do their work, and tour to the various locations around the city to see all the murals in their complexities and beauty,” according to the event page.

You can also get to know all of the 2020 muralists’ bios on the Street Wise Boulder site: https://www.streetwiseboulder.com/

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