A Sense of Place: Stella Yu and David Griggs

Laura Bond

Stella Yu and David Griggs give their hearts and their art to the Santa Fe Arts District. Someday they'll give their home too. 

Twenty-two years ago, Stella Yu and David Griggs moved into a two-story, former grocery store in a culturally diverse neighborhood -- home to generations of Irish, German, and Latino families -- that was coalescing as a creative hub. Since then, the 5,000 square-foot building in what's known as the Santa Fe Arts District has served as studio, office, gathering place, and home to one of Denver's most accomplished creative and community-minded couples. 

Stella is the founder of Arts Street, a youth program that birthed one of the first arts-based social enterprises in the city. David is the creator of large-scale public art pieces that are found throughout Colorado and the country, including several immediately recognizable pieces around Metro Denver. 

Both have led or participated in numerous initiatives to shape, protect, and elevate the Santa Fe Arts District as well as the surrounding La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood. They're currently involved in efforts to increase awareness about the historical significance and financial value of homes in the neighborhood, as one way of encouraging those who've lived there for decades to stay. 

Through a planned estate gift to Metropolitan State University, they'll give their beautiful art- and light-filled home to the neighborhood itself. Metro will, in turn, use the building in service of the arts for at least 10 years. The couple envisions a place for exhibitions, installations, and seminars for faculty, students, and visiting artists. 

"I have personally seen the value of artists' residencies, of having a place that's outside your own studio to live, showcase work," says David. "We thought, 'Well Metro already has a presence here. Maybe they would see the value in exploring what this building could be.'"

Stella and David hope their gift will help preserve the history and character of the Santa Fe Arts District, which is undergoing rapid change. They see future residents as potential patrons of local galleries and isnstitutions, and buyers and supporters of Denver arts. Their house can serve as a creative anchor for artmakers as well as the audience to come. 

"We see lots of development here now, and we know in the future, there will be more people flipping houses, doing tear downs and scrapes," says Stella. "We hope the building can serve as some sort of buffer between development and the future of the community."

Stella and David are members of The Denver Foundation Community Legacy Society. As part of their estate plan, they'll also leave a trust to The Fund for Denver, the Foundation's permanent endowment. A gift to The Fund for Denver is a fitting legacy for a generous couple who have a long-term vision for supporting their passions for the arts and community. 

Do you have a long-term vision for your philanthropy? Please contact us at 303.300.1790 to discuss planning your charitable legacy. We would be honored to help bring your vision to life. 

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