Artists: Art District on Santa Fe galleries shutter as COVID-19 takes economic toll

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — The economic hardship of COVID-19 continues to impact Denver’s art community, according to artists who work in the Art District on Santa Fe. Local galleries are trying to survive while others have been forced to close.

Prior to the pandemic, a stretch of Santa Fe Drive south of downtown was one of Denver’s most popular shopping areas for unique art. While the location is still a place for just that, it’s not the same. More “for sale” and “for lease” signs have been posted on building windows in the district.

“It’s strange,” said Richard Dotson who operates Grace Gallery at West Ninth Avenue and Santa Fe Drive. “As you can see, we’ve lost a few galleries down here this time.”

Dotson said at least four galleries in his block alone did not reopen after the early pandemic lockdown.

“So many businesses have unfortunately shut down or had to really change how they do things,” said handmade collage artist Curtis Bergesen with the Denver Art Society.

The society is home to more than 60 local artists who continue their effort to inspire during this depressing time.

“We’re not doing as well as we would in normal times, but we’re open,” Bergesen said. “People are buying art.”

Pre-COVID First Friday Art Walks could always be counted on to bring in thousands of shoppers to the area. The pandemic has forced a suspension of the monthly event. 

“That, of course, has hurt our income,” Bergesen said.

Artists, however, say they are surviving with hope that their artwork will brighten moods.

“I think [people are] sitting around in their houses looking at those white walls and realizing that they needed to have something on there to look at,” Dotson said.

If you’d like to help the district in its support of artists, a COVID-19 relief fund has been created.

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