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RiNo neighborhood showcases murals by local Black artists

Murals done by local Black artists are starting to go up on loading docks near 29th Avenue and Blake Street.

DENVER — Art is always on display in Denver's River North (RiNo) neighborhood and now, you can find specific art showcased: Black art.

Murals by Black artists can now be seen on loading docks at 29th and Blake streets.

“My role and mission is to engage, to educate all communities using art, and this month in Black History Month we have focused on Black artist[s],” said Rob Gray, founder of Rob The Art Museum.

Gray worked with the River North Art District to give six Black artists the opportunity to showcase their talents on loading dock doors in the district.

Credit: RiNo Art District

"One by 'Just Created' is a beautiful piece," said Gray. "You see a heart, but it looks like crumbling paper and he wants to spread love."

Artists have struggled during the pandemic, and organizers said they saw this as a chance to compensate creatives in this tough time.

"We paid everyone $1,000, and we have up to a $400 reimbursement, and it is very important in this time that we keep supporting creative community," said Gray.

Credit: 9NEWS

It’s not just the murals giving Black artists a spotlight.

“We have this art gallery here at 27th and Larimer where we have 26 local artists, 11 international artists, and we have over 100 pieces of art work on display right here," said Gray.

One of the featured artists at the galley is Yazz, a middle school teacher who recently got back into creating her own art.

"I show my kids and they are like, 'Yo, Miss Yazz, this is cold, this is dope... you do stuff like this?' and I’m like, 'This is my first time, but yeah," said Yazz.

Said Gray, "I chose Yazz because this is her first gallery showing. I love her style, she is really creative. She's a wonderful woman, doing things for the community."

Yazz has five pieces of creative work featured at the gallery.

"It's huge, and I feel like we are part of another renaissance, the Black renaissance," said Yazz.

Credit: 9NEWS

When kids look at the pieces she's crafted, her hope is that they see a reflection.

"I want when a little Black girl or Black boy looks at it to say, 'Yo, I see myself he/she looks like me,'" said Yazz.

It's artists like Yazz that inspire so many. Gray is hoping this is a trend that continues beyond one month.

"I just want to help this community grow and build and become more diverse and make sure we protect the women in our community and are uplifting the minorities in our community," said Gray.

Credit: 9NEWS

The pandemic has forced a lot of mom-and-pop galleries to close, so the hope is by promoting more artists, they can build momentum and boost the industry.

On Thursday, the lease for Art at the Museum on 27th and Larimer streets was extended one month. You can now see the work from Black featured artists at the museum through the end of March.

Rob Gray said rent is expensive, but the goal is to find a permanent place in RiNo or Denver's Five Points neighborhood where Black art can be featured.

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