The Denver Lino Project

The Denver Lino Project

Originally intended to be a photo project, the Denver Lino project is the result of a walk around Denver on New Year’s Eve 2021. Walking demands that you connect with a city on a completely different level. You can’t ignore the sounds or smells the way you can in a car. The people change when you see them face to face instead of from a distance. There’s something intimate and beautiful about a long walk around a city that you want to love.

Does this sound pretentious? I don’t mean for it to be. I just don’t think that I would have fallen in love with Denver in the way that I did if it weren’t for the fact that I explored so much of it on foot. Shortly before I left for my ill-advised and unsuccessful stint in graduate school, my car died because I had stopped using it. In the city it doesn’t feel like you really need a vehicle. I fell in love with the city on foot and every chance I get to walk around for ten miles or so, I’ll take.

This walk was different. Denver felt like a different and new place. I had been there before and also not been there before. I knew the streets and understood where I was supposed to be, but the places I was so familiar with had changed. The Oriental Cafe was completely redone–the mural on the side of the building painted over and the kind of clean logo that reeks of gentrification and pretension topped the doorway. There was AstroTurf in front of the mansion where I once stood barefoot, sinking my toes into the grass because my shoes were hurting my feet. When I finally got to my old neighborhood, I saw they had finally closed The Compound and now some new restaurant with a trendy name took its place–the walls that kept out prying, possibly homophobic eyes were replaced by windows, so anyone walking by could gawk at your charcuterie board as you sipped a local, organic wine.

The Denver I knew and loved was disappearing. Had I really been gone so long, or had this all happened so quickly? Can we blame my ignorance of these changes on the pandemic, or had I just not been paying attention? I originally thought it would be a photo project because I liked the idea of exposing a contradiction. Take a picture of what it is, but write about what it was. By switching to lino prints, I can give a better idea of the way things were. I can make alterations so the thing I remember in my mind is more like the thing that appears on paper. Of course, anyone can look up the addresses and the businesses and see the way things are now–how they’ve changed from the way they used to be. If the places that I present here hold special memories for you as well, leave a note in the comment and let me know. I think all of us who were in the city before 2013 have a dream of how it was that seems to contradict the way that it is now.

I hope you enjoy these prints. Thanks for visiting.