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Best Local Places to Visit in Denver

Join Tariana Navas-Nieves, director of cultural affairs for Denver Arts & Venues, as she tours some of Denver’s most remarkable attractions, including The ART – A Hotel, The Source artisan food market, The Cherry Creek Trail, and Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

5 Lessons You Can Learn From Tariana Navas-Nieves

Tariana Navas-Nieves believes that “art can make you fall in love with a city,” and as director of cultural affairs for Denver Arts & Venues, her job is to create and foster those love stories every day. A Puerto Rico native, Navas-Nieves has always been passionate about the arts. Her current role allows her to oversee every facet of Denver’s thriving arts community, including majestic venues like Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre, vibrant public art installations, expanding arts funding and encouraging growth of the city’s artistic industries.

Weaving beauty, creativity and inspiration into the very fabric of her adopted city is “not just art for art’s sake,” Navas-Nieves says. Her mission is to use the arts to ignite social change and economic development at the government, community and grassroots levels.

Here are five key lessons you can learn from the life and career of this multi-faceted Local Legend.

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Be open to life’s unexpected detours.

Early in her professional career, Navas-Nieves was working at a public relations agency when a news director at Spanish-language network Telemundo approached her with a job offer. “Believe it or not, I started as a weatherperson,” she says. Navas-Nieves jumped at the opportunity to learn about journalism and soon expanded her role. “I started reporting on the arts,” she says. She even co-hosted a local program that covered arts, culture and entertainment.

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Diversify your talents.

Navas-Nieves earned her undergraduate degree in art history, specializing in modern and contemporary Latin American art. She spent 20 years working at numerous museums and galleries around the country, including the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Gallery 44 in Boulder, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Museo de las Américas in Denver and the Denver Art Museum. She has also dabbled in the private arts sector, acquiring and selling works for multi-million dollar collections. “I worked for private collectors, building their collections and doing exhibitions here in the United States and in Puerto Rico,” Navas-Nieves says.

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Never stop asking, “What’s next?”

Navas-Nieves earned her undergraduate degree in art history, specializing in modern and contemporary Latin American art. She spent 20 years working at numerous museums and galleries around the country, including the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Gallery 44 in Boulder, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Museo de las Américas in Denver and the Denver Art Museum. She has also dabbled in the private arts sector, acquiring and selling works for multi-million dollar collections.  “I worked for private collectors, building their collections and doing exhibitions here in the United States and in Puerto Rico,” Navas-Nieves says. 

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Embrace those guilty pleasures.

As someone who spends her days immersed in art and culture, one might expect Navas-Nieves to look down on “low-brow” ventures. Not so, she insists. “There are definitely guilty pleasures! I love watching TV. It's a way to turn my mind off.” Two of her favorite guilty pleasures are “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Project Runway.” “I love Tim Gunn,” she says. “I love his approach to mentorship and empowering artists to take ownership.” Fashion actually falls right in step with her interests. “I just see it as an expression of who you are. There is space and creativity for all types of art forms, and fashion is very much an art form.”

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Art is a powerful language.

Navas-Nieves and her husband have two children, a 19-year-old son and a 15-year-old daughter. Their son is on the autism spectrum, and proud mom Navas-Nieves can’t help but brag about his accomplishments. “He just graduated with honors from high school.” She describes him as “very, very high functioning,” and attributes that in no small part to his ability to communicate through art. “He loves movies. He thinks visually. It's a very unique way of thinking and communicating,” she explains. “There are different types of intelligence and different types of communication. I think the arts are definitely a way to connect. I feel very lucky and very blessed that what I do has allowed me to also support his growth.”

 

 

The conversation with Tariana Navas-Nieves continues on the Local Legends podcast, available on iTunes and Google Play.

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