BOULDER | Where there’s a university, there’s a creative student population, and where there’s a creative student population, there’s street art. Boulder is a university town, and it punches well above its weight when it comes to street art.
The street art scene in Boulder is diverse, with large murals you can’t help but notice on main streets, and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stencils and paste ups hidden down unassuming alleyways. The art draws upon a variety of themes from the social and political, to the historical and fun. Keep your eyes peeled, and you’ll find a whole lot of interesting pieces.
The street art scene in Boulder is very community driven. Non-profit organisations such as Street Wise Arts help create murals, community events and youth education programs that enhance the urban environment, and ensure representation for all artists.
While you can find murals in many of Boulder’s neighbourhoods, the majority of Boulder’s street art is located downtown. In this Boulder street art guide, I’ve selected four neighbourhoods, ordered in a way that you can do a self-guided walking tour through all of them.
Located south of Downtown, and directly west of the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus, University Hill (aka ‘the Hill’) is a mixed-use neighbourhood with a large student population. It’s a vibrant neighbourhood full of cheap eats, great bars, and live music venues.
The area around 13th Street and College Ave is where you’ll find many of University Hill’s murals. Many of them are painted by students, and deal with timely topics.
Take a short walk up Broadway from University Hill, and you’ll find yourself in Downtown’s West End. Just before crossing into Downtown, you’ll pass by the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, which is well worth your time.
Many of Downtown’s murals are located along Pearl Street, Walnut Street, and Spruce Street, and the small streets and alleyways that connect the three thoroughfares. There’s always something new to discover, but there are also older murals that have been maintained. The ‘Frank Shorter Runners’ Mural’, on the corner of Spruce and Broadway, has been around since 1997.
Be sure to check out the alleyways around here and not just the main streets. Boulder Alley Gallery is a community imitative which has seen 30 alley and back-of-building doors repurposed into an outdoor artist gallery featuring murals by local artists.
Whittier is one of Boulder’s oldest and most desirable neighbourhoods. Its known for its well preserved Victorian-era houses, one of which was the house in 1970s sitcom, Mork and Mindy. Bordering Downtown’s East End, Whittier is full of art galleries, independent boutiques, and places to eat and drink.
Walking there to explore the neighbourhood and its street art flows naturally as you leave Downtown.
Keep heading east through Whittier and you’ll find yourself in Boulder Junction. Historically an industrial neighbourhood with poor non-car accessibility and little amenities, it’s been developing over the past 15 years as a transit-oriented, planned 160-acre, multiuse urban residential and commercial area.
It’s an interesting neighbourhood that’s still finding its identity, and you can tell that it’s changing fast as it develops. Walking through Boulder Junction, you’ll find interesting shops, some great bars, breweries, and food spots, and several impressive murals.
Identified artists featured in the image gallery include:
Happy discoveries on your street art walk through Boulder. What are your favourites places for street art in Boulder? What are you favourite Boulder murals?