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Downtown Denver Arts Festival Returns to its Roots

Sean Brown's mixed-media work.

The Downtown Denver Arts Festival takes place at DPAC May 24-26.

Sean Brown's mixed-media work.

The Downtown Denver Arts Festival takes place at DPAC May 24-26.

The 15th annual Downtown Denver Arts Festival is taking place from May 24-26 at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, where it started in 1999.
Held from 1999 to 2001 at the Denver Performing Arts Complex (DPAC), the Downtown Denver Arts Festival is headed home after 11 years at the Denver Pavilions.
 
"It's just a better fit for us," says Director Jim DeLutes. "Number one, that location is our demographic. The people who go to the symphony, opera and plays are people who enjoy the arts and have the disposable income to support the arts. At the Pavilions, you get people heading to the bars and people heading to the movies."
 
DeLutes is pushing this synergy with this year's tagline, "Where the visual arts meets the performing arts," and is cross-promoting with several of DPAC's resident organizations. 
 
The show will start on the glass-covered promenade and spill out onto the lawn under The Dancers, with about 100 of the artists on the lawn between DPAC and Speer Boulevard.The Denver Downtown Arts Festival takes place at DPAC May 24-26.
 
DeLutes expects 125,000 or more attendees, touting the art as "more affordable" than other arts festival. "It tends to be what people are looking for," he says, describing a range of work spanning pastels to precious jewelry made by the 140 artists who were selected by the jury. And for nearly a third of them, this is their first Downtown Denver Arts Festival.

Vote of confidence
 
"I saw more applications from artists than ever, and it was because I moved it," says DeLutes. "They're excited -- it's a good vote of confidence."
 
More than 90 of participating artists are from Colorado, including Denver's Sean Brown. Brown, who makes colorful and whimsical mixed-media sculpture and jewelry and owns Studio 12 in the Art District on Santa Fe, has participated in the festival since 1991.
 
"I always thought it was the perfect location for an arts show," says Brown. "It was people who really are patrons of the arts. I'm glad it's moving back." He calls DPAC "underutilized" as an event space.
 
In the festival's early years, Brown says he kept his booth open after hours to catch the night's theatergoers. "I'd get customers between intermissions," he says. "It's like a bonus for coming down for a show or a play."

Read more articles by Eric Peterson.

Eric is a Denver-based tech writer and guidebook wiz. Contact him here.
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