Fine artist, mentor to students at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design and former RedLine resident Jaime Carrejo grew up in the borderlands of El Paso, a region — and state of mind — that he still explores conceptually in interdisciplinary work that’s been exhibited here and around the globe. Discover that world with Carrejo via his 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Jaime Carrejo: Wow, that’s tough. Felix Gonzales-Torres is important to me. The poetics of his work is very human and strikingly political. Sol LeWitt would also be amazing. I have admired his work since I was in my teens. His letter to Eva Hesse has been a very encouraging read whenever I hit a wall in the studio. Minimalist composer Steve Reich would also be an interesting choice. I am obsessed with his 1974-1976 piece, “Music for 18 Musicians.” It’s a really lovely work that builds over time, falls apart and rebuilds.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Hands down, I would say Bernie Sanders. He may not get the nomination, but he has shown that many citizens are ready for a fundamental change. I’ve been impressed with his message as one of inclusion rather than exclusion.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
Die? Trends? Not one. The wonderful thing about art and design is that there is room at the table for everyone. Pull up a chair, have a drink and enjoy the conversation, even if it is a bit of a debate.
What's your day job?
I am the Chair of Foundations at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design and have the pleasure of working with first year art and design students. They really are the best part of the job.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
First, I would pay off all debts for my immediate family and myself. I would also set up a scholarship fund for students who wish to attend college for free. The cost of tuition can be extravagant, and I truly believe that education is an important, life-changing event for those who would like to pursue it. Lastly, I would devote so much time in the studio and traveling the world. Wouldn’t that be the life?
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
Love it. It's a pretty amazing city. It's small enough that many things are accessible. The art community is wonderful and very supportive. Summer camping is a favorite pastime, and Colorado has so many options when it comes to the outdoors. My sister also lives here, which is a plus!
I will also say that there is a serious gentrification problem. The cost of living is increasing, and housing is becoming unaffordable for people who have lived here for years. It is a real problem the city needs to deal with.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Nonprofit organizations in the area do quite a bit for the arts, such as RedLine, PlatteForum and DAVA, to name a few. These organizations need funding. It would be wonderful if the citizens of Denver supported these organizations with donations so they can continue to do great things in the community. Get out there and donate, if you can! They need your help, and so do the communities they serve.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
I have quite a bit of love for RedLine Denver and its executive director, Louise Martorano. RedLine does amazing work in the art community, and the organization’s commitment to social justice is impressive. Gretchen Schaefer is doing a fantastic job in the heading the Visiting Artist Scholar and Designer program at RMCAD. Her team has brought in some wonderful people. I am looking forward to hearing Miranda July talk this week. Cortney Lane Stell of Black Cube and Becky Ruth Hart at the Denver Art Museum are doing pretty amazing things, also. We are lucky to have them here.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
I’m currently working on a project for the Denver Art Museum. I can’t go into the details, but I am working on an immersive installation that cuts pretty close to the politics of difference. The world is in a very strange place right now, and the installation will be a reflection of that strangeness. The show will open sometime next year. I am also working on a series of physical and digital gradient paintings that I am very excited about. Denver Arts & Venues asked me to sit on a public-art committee, and it will be wonderful to work with Rudi Cerri again. I’m also busy writing a new curriculum for the college.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
Lucas McMahon had a show at Pirate Gallery not too long ago that was pretty striking. He is doing some interesting collage work and making lace-dipped concrete sculptures. I would also say keep an eye out for Tya Anthony. She is a photographer who has great skill in crafting visual narratives.
Learn more about Jaime Carrejo online.