The RedLine Contemporary Art Center is a nonprofit arts organization located in the Five Points neighborhood in Denver. Founded in 2008, RedLine has been dedicated to supporting emerging artists and providing creative opportunities for local residents.

RedLine has a 22,000 square foot facility that includes a main exhibition hall with 12-15 curated exhibitions per year, 18 resident artist studios, a community studio for educational programming and community events. There is also a library with over 8,000 art and art history books.


As part of its mission, RedLine works to provide equitable access to the arts for under-resourced populations and grassroots organizations and encouraging diverse communities of emerging artists to use socially-engaged art as a tool for social change. RedLine has been the launching point for more than 125 resident artists by providing them with a two-year residency with subsidized studio space, mentoring, career development and promotion.

Each year, 15-18 emerging contemporary artists in Colorado are selected through an application process. RedLine’s Youth Art Education Programs encourages young artists in 25 Denver schools to use art as their voice to speak about issues affecting their communities and lives.

More than 8,000 Denver students have interacted with RedLine through one-on-one mentoring, guided school tours and art making. RedLine is a great resource for these students when so much of art education classes in public schools are underfunded or removed from the school curriculum. There are weekly and monthly event for members and non-members including figure drawing, sewing club and a collage club.


Louise Martorano, Executive Director of RedLine since 2010, shared her thoughts when I asked her about calling the space RedLine when the term “redlining” has been associated with discriminatory practices (economic, educational, political) towards neighborhoods that have been racially and cultural diverse.

“It’s about claiming space”, said Martorano, and in the process of doing so, “to invite and encourage people to cross the red  line, physically and emotionally, and to begin to engage with local community members and become invested in the mission of the art center and the neighborhood.”

RedLine is also a great resource for the 15-18 emerging artists who are selected for the two-year artists’ residency offered by the center. The residency provides each artist with a degree of socio-economic stability during their two-years, helping with housing, materials, mentoring, media promotion, and studio space.

You do not need to be a Colorado resident when applying for the residency, however, if accepted, artist must relocate to the Denver area for their two-year residency.


Socially engaged art is a philosophy of the artist-in-residence program that “focuses on social engagement, inviting collaboration with individuals, communities, and institutions in the creation of art that informs a social issue”. Applications for the next artist residency will reopen in 2024.

Much of RedLine’s budget comes from foundations and grants. RedLine also offers very reasonable yearly memberships which gives you access to all events and exhibitions. In 2020, RedLine partnered with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency.)

The first project accepted was by artist, Matt Barton that focused on flood mitigation within the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods north of Denver to facilitate projects that are focused on raising awareness and promoting disaster risk reduction activities through art.

“We believe that social change (big and small) is possible when artists engage in and with local communities around a social issue”, Robin Gallite, RedLine Deputy Director, said of the RedLine-FEMA partnership. RedLine is also a partner and administrator of the Arts in Society grant program supporting cross-sector work through the arts across Colorado. Grants are available to both individuals and organizations that use art to promote social justice and community welfare.

Several grantees have focused on the intersection of arts and ecology.

One of the past recipients of a Arts in Society grant is The Prairie Sea Projects – creative initiatives and community actions that response to the ecological future of the Colorado High Plains region. Starting in Yuma County, The Prairie Sea Projects is designed to support and inspire the next wave of community and environmental activism in rural Colorado.


I want to extend special thanks to RedLine’s Louise Martorano, Executive Director, and Patricia
McCrystal, Marketing & Communications Manager. To learn more about and to support the
RedLine Contemporary Art Center’s many programs, exhibitions and artists opportunities, visit
their website:

All photos courtesy of RedLine Contemporary Arts Center.

Susan Heske posing with a guitar outdoors

About the Writer:
Susan Heske


Susan Heske moved to Boulder, CO, in October 2021. She previously worked as Senior Director of Communications for Student Services at The New School in New York City. She has been involved with social justice issues for many years.