The Stay Gallery (3519 Brighton Boulevard, 303-408-3057), run by the husband-and-wife team of John and Amy Bodin, only recently opened; in fact, the current exhibition, UNDERGO, is only the third show to be presented there. UNDERGO is a solo featuring Justin Beard, one of Denver's most interesting young artists, and it proves that he's ambitious, thoughtful and talented. I've got to say, it's definitely a must-see.
After graduating from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in 2004, Beard found himself in a position familiar to many with a freshly minted BFA: He needed to find a day job, pronto. At first he worked building guardrails along I-25, an experience he used as his taking-off point for this show. Beard wrote in his artist's statement that his intention was "to expose people to that piece of our culture that few know anything about." I think he means that those of us who live in the art world can hardly imagine what it would be like to put up guardrails along the highway, as he did. I'd say he's completely right.
Beard is a conceptualist, and he's built a group of separate installations, all of which address his topic. Although the various installations are disparate, he somehow links them into a coherent display. This situation is helped along considerably by the gorgeous charcoal-gray paint that covers the gallery's walls.
There are several wonderful pieces in UNDERGO, including "They Called Them This," a vinyl-covered truck replica with a disco ball spinning above it. Also striking is "Paint Roller," a motorized paint roller that is partially covered in mirrors. One oddball construction is "Prop" (left), a puppet dressed in jogging clothes and suspended from bicycle handlebars that also appears in the video projection "Jogger." Both pieces refer to a hallucination Beard had after a too-long night's work.
UNDERGOshuts down at Stay on August 25, when a closing party is scheduled to run from 7 to 10 p.m. At that time, Beard will launch his "Caulking Tube Rocket" -- or, as he calls it, his "caulk rocket" -- in the parking lot.