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Dry Dock Brewery Celebrates Hop Workers Through Art

Dry Dock Brewery Celebrates Hop Workers Through Art
Scott Grossman

Starting Friday, Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora, CO, celebrates the unsung heroes of the craft beer industry — hop workers. The brewery will showcase the artwork of Christie Tirado, which focuses on the Mexican migrant and immigrant workers who facilitate this critical beer ingredient. These workers toil under often-difficult conditions to plant, trellis, train and harvest hops in the Yakima Valley, Wash.

Tirado will open the exhibit at Dry Dock’s North Dock this coming Friday, Sept. 9 . She’ll be onsite from 5 p.m. and will speak about her work and her mission at 7.

Additionally, Tirado will hold a block printing workshop for kids and adults from noon-4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10. The workshop is sponsored by Denver’s Latino Cultural Arts Center. Reservations are required and can be made through the center’s website.

Artist Christie Tirado (photo courtesy of Christie Tirado)

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

Dry Dock is particularly excited to bring Tirado’s artwork to its culturally-diverse hometown during National Hispanic Heritage Month. Says Marty Jones, publicist for the brewery, “We were impressed by her work. Everybody at Dry Dock loved her work, and the cause she is championing struck a chord with us.” He added, “It was quite a revelation to me. I was dumbfounded how I could have never heard of these people.”

Life Experience Drives Mission

Tirado is an artist and elementary school art teacher in Washington’s Yakima Valley. Her interest in this virtually-unrecognized workforce started in childhood. Her parents immigrated from Mexico and she saw first-hand the difficulties that immigrant and migrant workers experience. “I feel that in a lot of these sectors it’s easy for people to not be seen or noticed,” she says.

Tirado felt the need to connect craft-beer-lovers with the workers that make great craft possible. “Being a teacher and an artist I noticed that there was little-to-no appreciation for the work that the immigrant and migrant communities do for the industry,” Tirado says.

Fostering Inclusion in Craft Brewing

She also felt that in an industry that has made great efforts in diversity, Latinos weren’t necessarily seeing themselves as part of that community. “Going into these places I felt that these craft breweries weren’t marketing towards the Latino community,” Tirado explains. “I wanted to make people like my parents and my students’ parents feel valued where they went.”

On a most basic level, Tirado wants to tell these laborers, “We see you.”

Art Inspired by History

Tirado gets her inspiration from old Mexican prints. She chose the medium of block printing because artists have historically used these images for artistic social and political expression. This style has often been employed to communicate the struggles of the oppressed.

Brewery celebrates hop workers through art
Photo courtesy of Christie Tirado

She typically executes her block prints on linoleum or wood. Using a reduction process, Tirado carves out negative spaces, leaving details she wants to print in the raised areas. Essentially she is creating a reverse image or a negative. She then inks the block and presses it onto paper to create the image.

The process takes a high level of artistic skill to perfect, but is relatively easy to experiment with. In keeping with her approach of empowering everyday people, Tirado says, “I want to make this accessible. Anybody will be able to make this from home.” This ethos is one of the drivers behind Saturday’s workshop, which is designed for anyone interested in learning how to create art.

Connecting Yakima to Denver

Tirado’s Denver visit is her first showing at a brewery outside of Washington. She looks to gain a new audience for both her work and her message. At the core, Tirado hopes to bring people together. Reflecting on her connection with Dry Dock, she says, “These pieces are doing what they’re supposed to because now we’re connected.”

Jones agrees that Tirado’s message will connect with Dry Dock customers. “She’s putting a face to some very important people in the trade. She’s helping people realize where their beer comes from.”

Brewery Celebrates Hop Workers

To commemorate Tirado’s visit, Dry Dock brewed a special beer made with Yakima Valley hops and created a unique T-shirt featuring her art. The brewery will display Tirado’s prints and have them available for sale through Oct. 15. This allows people visiting for GABF to appreciate and perhaps acquire some accessible, affordable high-quality art while also sampling delicious craft brews.

Featured image courtesy of Christie Tirado

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