TGI First Friday! The Santa Fe Art District at a Glance


On the first Friday of every month, the Santa Fe Art District hosts an Art Walk where participants can tour the many galleries for free.

Only a twenty-minute drive from ACC towards Denver, this monthly event is an engaging and enjoyable way for the poor college student to spend an evening.

February 3rd, 2017. A view of downtown as darkness falls over Denver and the Art District on Santa Fe Drive. Many braved the brisk winter weather to participate in the ‘First Fridays’ Art Walk, but the monthly event is far busier in warmer weather. In summer months, the street is closed to accommodate the art admirers.
February 3rd, 2017. By late evening, the Santa Fe Art District is bustling with people.

The Art Walk starts around 5pm, and some galleries stay open as late as 11pm. However, it may be smart to show up early to get a good parking spot. Even in the chilly months of the year, participants turn out by the hundreds for cheap wine and diverse artwork.

Inside the 910 Arts building –an essential stop in the district– artists open up their personal studios to display their work. Art District adventurers get the opportunity to see inside and get a taste of the professional artist lifestyle.

February 3rd, 2017. A peek into an artist’s studio at the 910 Arts building, a hub of studios, complete with a coffee shop and floral store.
February 3rd, 2017. A close-up of a sketchbook displayed in the 910 Arts building. Much of the artwork displayed on the Art Walk are paintings, drawings, and photography, but many artists attempt to display their work in more creative ways.

Further down the street is the Grace Gallery, where Jean Philbrick displays her beautiful paintings. Philbrick, the gallery owner, has a background in sales and management and has been painting for over 40 years. Her recent boost in sales has been encouraging, but she insists that it has taken a lifetime of learning to paint at such a high caliber. She continues to take classes every week to hone her craft even more.

February 3rd, 2017. Jean Philbrick, owner of the Grace Gallery on Santa Fe Drive, looks forward to displaying her own work each month for the Art Walk.

Philbrick loves being surrounded by other artists in the district, where she can give and receive feedback on projects. She’s learned it typically takes three to nine months for an artist to sell their first piece, and urges young artists to stay encouraged and learn how to promote themselves.

On February 3rd, the Very Special Arts Colorado studio, located at 909 Santa Fe Drive, hosted the ‘Stick ‘Em Up Chuck’ event: a collection of works compiled of stickers. Using stickers as a medium allowed artists with severe physical/mental disabilities to create exceptional, studio-quality work.

February 3rd, 2017. The Very Special Arts Colorado studio displays the ‘Smiley-Face’ piece, made with over 10,000 small smiley stickers.

Further down the street is another vital stop on the Art Walk: The Denver Art Society building. This venue hosts free live music and two large floors of assorted artwork. Better yet, it’s right next door to the delicious El Noa Noa Mexican Restaurant. If the wine sold in many of the galleries isn’t for you, perhaps a margarita or a plate of flavorful, hot food is more your speed.

February 3rd, 2017. Art Walk participants gather in the Denver Art Society building to enjoy the large gallery of diverse artwork. By 7 pm, many of the galleries are teeming with eager Denverites and tourists alike.
February 3rd, 2017. On the ground floor of the Denver Art Society building, live music from local acts can be enjoyed free of charge. Although the Art Walk consists of primarily visual art, music, dance, and theater can be enjoyed if you know where to look.
February 3rd, 2017. In the basement of the Denver Art Society building, even more artwork can be appreciated by partakers of the First Fridays Art Walk. The artwork is as diverse and beautiful as the artists who proudly display it.

For amateur artists, the Art Walk is a must. Not only is there opportunity to talk to creators about their process, but one can learn about the day-to-day life of an artist. There’s a chance to see their workspace and maybe even learn some fresh techniques.

February 3rd, 2017. A close up of an artist’s work-space.

What makes the First Fridays Art Walk so gratifying isn’t just that it’s free. The Santa Fe Art District is a home for remarkably creative, independent artists with whom participants can openly converse. There’s no pressure to buy pieces, no need to be fluent in fine-art lingo, but there is plenty of opportunity to closely observe and thoroughly experience various artwork.

In a time of global uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to celebrate and encourage creative expression. Attending a monthly Art Walk is a wallet-friendly opportunity to support the arts, to broaden your perspectives, and have a great time doing it. The next Art Walk will be held on Friday, March 3rd, in the Santa Fe Art District in Denver.