ReturnCreating Community in Colorado with the LeftSide Gallery
For the latest MTN Dealers feature, we head over the Atlantic to meet D.Wade from the LeftSide Gallery
The LeftSide Gallery opened in the summer of 2021 in Denver, Colorado, responding to a need for a real graffiti store in the area, managed by someone involved in the scene. That someone is D. Wade, who has single-handedly established a genuinely unique point of sale for Montana Colors. But the business is only half the story, as we found out when we called him up recently.
“We did this all out of pocket,” Wade explains. “I got a family of two kids and my wife. I lost my brother to cancer about five years ago and ever since I’ve been trying to do something for the community.” The results of his hard work are spectacular. The LeftSide Gallery, located in the Cole neighborhood of the city, is a spacious, well stocked store which is incredibly well organized and displays products from brands like MTN, Krink and Stylefile immaculately. There’s still space for personal touches though - the Lego street scene decorated with mini tags and throw-ups shows the pride that Wade takes in the space, and the appeal he has to both adults and kids.
His late sibling Austin was a significant influence on Wade when they started painting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “We grew up in the skateboarding and graffiti community to the point where we started connected with so many people at such a young age,” he remembers. “We decided to focus on just painting and hooked up with All City Paint. As young kids we were supported by them, very well. That gave us the idea that this graffiti thing could be something that me and my brother could grow with.”
They moved to Denver together in search of more creative possibilities when illness struck. “My brother got sick and we lost him to cancer,” Wade says. “But no matter what we were going through, we never let go of writing graffiti. It was everything for us, it still is.” Having made their name in New Mexico, they established themselves in neighboring Colorado, and graffiti helped him channel his energy after losing his writing partner. “I started catching a ton of freights, which was a dream of mine, for as long as I could.”
Sadly, it was not the last time tragedy would strike Wade. Not long after his brother passed, he also lost one of his daughters. Needless to say, he was devastated, but he was able to find inspiration even in this period of mourning. “I hid in the house and dreamt up ideas that led to this phase that you can see now,” he says. “Rather than focusing on being an artist, I wanted to make change in the world.” So he was inspired to open the LeftSide Gallery in his new adopted city.
Opening the store wasn’t the end game for Wade, and his optimism and ambition is clear in everything he explains: “This is the first of many locations that I want to open. I really hope to push the graffiti culture to the next generations in a smoother and more accessible way - still filled with enough rules so we don’t ruin what we’ve worked for throughout our whole lives.”
As any independent store owner will tell you, there are no guarantees of success, and the money you risk is your own. “I was afraid of how much rent I’d be paying each month,” Wade explains. “I knew I’d be able to sell all the spray paint we needed to, and maybe some of my clothes and some art. But we’re already clearing rent by selling MTN paint alone. This is truly turning into something I never thought it would so quickly.”
This particular graffiti store offers way more than art materials. The epic windows look out onto a basketball court, flanked by racks of balls for the locals to practice their jump-shots. The court is surrounded by walls which are painted on the regular, and the store front currently features a tight production by local artists Payer Slayer, Shoe TKO and Tusk 36. All of this is located next door to a Union Pacific Freight yard, for fans of rolling stock.
So what’s the best thing about the LeftSide Gallery? Wade has no doubt. “My favourite part is the kids. We’re located near to an area where people need help with food and clothing. Their kids have nothing to look forward to. Nothing pushing them towards constant happiness. With this community center, I want to voice the idea that everyone needs taking care of, everywhere.”
Follow the LeftSide Gallery on Instagram: @leftsidegallery. And make sure to pay them a visit if you’re in town!
ShareDecember 03, 2021