The first Friday of the month isn’t just a date on the calendar. Across the U.S., the day has taken on a new meaning with public events dedicated to community collaboration and celebration. Among the most popular “First Friday” happenings in the Denver metro area are art walks through the Art District on Santa Fe and in Lakewood.
But you don’t need to travel far for an art walk. The Auraria campus is filled with creative activity, from powerful sculptures to vibrant murals and unique figures, many created by CU Denver’s own students and faculty. We created a walk for you with stops at some of these pieces, and others from the shared campus—that you can take on First Friday or whenever you need a burst of creative energy. You’ll start at a whimsical sight along the Cherry Creek Trail and end at scuplture with a meaningful message at the Ninth Street Historic Park.
Can you think of a piece of art that should be added to this list? Share a photo on social media and tag us at @CUDenver.
Stop 1: “Blooming Wall” by Yulia Avgustinovich, 2019
Located: East wall on the Cherry Creek Trail at 14th Street and Speer Boulevard
The once gray graffiti walls have been transformed into colorful flowers and vibrant patterns. The artist says flowers represent symbols of rebirth, hope, and spring, and nature helps people look at their lives with more gratitude.
Stop 2: “One World One Water” by Rik Sargent, 2012
Located: Front lawn of MSU’s Student Success Building
This bronze sculpture of a single drop of water was designed to promote water education and represents the weaving together of watersheds and ecosystems, according to MSU. Located on the north side of the Auraria campus, the sculpture welcomes all visitors.
Stop 3: “Bronze Lynx Statue” by Dan Ostermiller, 2021
Located: Benson Terrace
Created by a beloved bronze sculptor based in Loveland, the Lynx statue serves as a permanent symbol of CU Denver’s community and pride. Rub the paw of the 8-foot-tall statue for good luck or snap a selfie for posterity.
Stop 4: “This is Our Place” Murals by Thomas Evans (aka Detour), 2022
Located: City Heights Residence Hall and Student Commons
In the heart of campus, Business School alum and renowned artist Detour painted two massive murals that depict four other alumni. From filmmakers to medical professionals and politicians, the subjects have impacted the community for the better.
Stop 5: “Psyche (The Butterfly)” by Donald Lipski, 2010
Located: Science Building
This larger-than-life butterfly is made of steel and 10,000 resin-filled, orange and yellow glass test tubes. Lipski’s Psyche (which means butterfly and soul in ancient Greek) is suspended from the ceiling in the building’s main lobby.
Stop 6: “Rat Fink Revolution: Started With a T-Shirt, Now We’re Here” by Ed Roth, 2022
Located: Emmanuel Art Gallery
Located in campus’ beloved art gallery, this exhibition includes Rat Fink (the bizzarro anti-hero to Mickey Mouse) hot rods, T-shirts, skateboards, toilet seats, and more.
For extra credit, take a side jaunt to the CU Denver Experience Gallery next door to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts for “Future Forging: Mythos of the Cybernaut.”
The Emmanuel Art Gallery is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Stop 6: “Journey” by Michael Brohman, 2002
Located: 10th Street, between Lawrence and Curtis streets
The bronze sculpture depicts enslaved human figures packed tightly in a ship. Artist Michael Brohman currently serves as a senior instructor of sculpture at CU Denver.
Stop 7: “Madre” by Maria Cristina Carlini, 2010
Located: Lawrence Way and 10th Street
The well-known cracked globe sculpture was originally part of a 2010 exhibit that took place simultaneously on the Auraria campus and the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design.
Stop 8: “Force Field” by Emily Zeek, 2021
Located: 11th and Lawrence Streets
The steel metal rods are welded into a variety of configurations that tell a story around diversity, feminism, and existentialism. Zeek earned a BFA in transmedia sculpture from CU Denver and works across the mediums of sculpture, photography, and performance.
Stop 9: “Waymark” by Walter Ware III, 2021
Located: Ninth Street Historic Park
Ware, who earned a BFA with an emphasis in sculpture and a BA in Anthropology from CU Denver, connects the past and present by using cultural artifacts in his art. His stone sculpture highlights humanity and symbolizes the four institutions that make up the Auraria campus.