Just a few minutes from downtown Denver, the Santa Fe Art District is a vibrating assortment of galleries, restaurants and boutiques. Spanning on six blocks between the 5th and 11th Avenues, on the Santa Fe Drive, the district is a classic example of urban gentrification. Long time a rundown neighborhood in urgent need of some care and attention, the area has got a new life with the arrival of dozens of galleries and other creative industries outlets, starting from 2003. Since then the Santa Fe Art District has rose to preeminence as the hub of Denver’s cultural life, with more than 40 galleries opening their business in the neighborhood.
The dozens of small galleries, music studios, and bookshops in the District make it the area with the highest cultural venues concentration in the entire state of Colorado. This effervescence has also brought a national attention to the young cultural district, being compared with the world famous Soho district, by influential commentators such as the New York Times.
The historic neighborhood that today forms the heart of Denver’s artistic life has a century long existence. Even before the renaissance, the Santa Fe Drive was home to a number of small yet active galleries, such as the Spark Gallery opened in 1979. Yet, the district only took off at the end of the 90s, when the Sandy Carson Galleries relocated here their activity from their previous location downtown. By 2003, dozens of cultural venues saw the opportunity of opening in the burgeoning cultural district, prompted by the rising costs of rental in the more established areas of the city. A number of venues have decided to join a non-profit organization that would promote the efforts to beautify area, as well as to draw attention to the cultural activities hosted in the Santa Fe district. The Art District on Santa Fe has joined forces with NEWSED and other community organizations that activate in West Denver to successfully promote the neighborhood.
The galleries of the District attract art lover of all kinds, with a generous assortment of collections, including contemporary and traditional painting, sculpture, photography and textiles. Many of them are dedicated to the promotion of the Hispanic traditions and cultural values, since West Denver is home to a large community of Mexican Americans. The Museo de las Americas, exhibiting art from Central and South America and the Chicano Humanities and Art Center are among the most preeminent institutions that promote the Hispanic culture.
To better make known the cultural offerings of the Santa Fe Art District, galleries here have joined a nation-wide art walking program. Every first Friday of the month, thousands of art lovers flock the district, to admire the collections and socialize. The restaurants and cafes in the area are crowded, and the atmosphere is friendly and joyful. For the more serious art collectors, a similar event is held once a month, when galleries open their doors for them until late night.
The Art District of Santa Fe is a beautiful example of the power of art as a mean of sharing and cooperation. At the same time, is a must see destination for anyone who is passionate about art in all its forms.