Reflective Discourse

University of Denver RTD Station

When I was at the Lab the other day checking out that impressive Liam Gillick piece, for obvious reasons the installation at the staggeringly ugly University of Denver Station on RTD's light-rail line came to mind. Like the Gillick, John Goe's "Reflective Discourse" uses words as a key component.

Considering that the commission was only $75,000, "Reflective Discourse" is a tremendously ambitious piece. The work has two sections -- one on the outside of the integral parking garage at Buchtel Boulevard and South High Street, and the other in the pedestrian tunnel -- that together add up to 200 running feet of art. Goe had the work executed by MID, artist Andy Miller's fabrication shop. Looking something like decorative screens, the two parts (detail pictured) are made from lined-up sheets of steel that have been powder-coated blue. Stencil-like letters in simple modern typefaces are cut out to spell various words, such as "originate" and "search," broadly following RTD's imposed theme of "light and motion." The words are arranged in an all-over pattern, with visual interest created in several ways. First, they're done in different sizes and have been put together like pieces of a puzzle. And in the part facing the street, they run off both the top and bottom.

Using words as compositional elements is something graphic designers do, so it's not surprising to learn that Goe works in that field as well. He's only lived in Denver for the past few years, having moved here after earning an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and was teaching as an adjunct professor at DU (and moonlighting as a waiter) when he snagged the commission. Since coming to town, Goe has rarely exhibited; the piece at the station is the only thing I've seen by him. And like the Gillick at the Lab, it's worth the trip to see.

 
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