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Denver's 16th Street Mall alleys get an artistic upgrade

The Downtown Denver Partnership launched an initiative to turn alleyways into art hubs in an effort to engage passersby.

DENVER — Alleys around and near the 16th Street Mall are being transformed with art as a result of a Downtown Denver Partnership Initiative.

“You don't normally look down an ally when you walk by," said Kate Barton, a spokesperson for DDP.

The DDP is a non-profit business organization dedicated to building an economically powerful center city.

One alley, between Stout and Champa streets, includes a 16-foot smiley face -- something many people stop to look at and snap a selfie with.

"It's a surprise and delight moment for the people that are walking by," Barton said.

DDP oversees 14 allies -- five have been transformed into art.

“We have large car fresheners in the allies, and we pump in evergreen scent to it ... changes the way the alley smells," Barton said.

Barton added that it’s a great way to keep people from ignoring the alley, and encourage them to engage with it instead.

“We don’t have people defecating in the alley ways or leaving trash,” said David Coffman, the manager of University Building, which is located along the mall.

Cortney Stell, the alley art curator, said the idea for the alley art is bold and simple.

“I felt it was good to engage local artist,” said Stell, who chose each artist featured.

Each mural has a description of the artist who constructed the transformation.

The alley between 15th and 14th streets and Larimer and Market streets features cats figurines.

“You might catch one cat out of the corner of your eye, and then you look up and see more and more,” Stell said.

Stell added that the best part of the project has been engaging people who may not go into a museum, "or may not go to see contemporary art, or don’t even think they are looking at an art work from the first glance."

The alleys are open during daylight hours. The art will be on-display through May of 2019.

DDP said it hopes to add even more art to other alleys in the future.