100 Colorado Creatives: Artist and Westword Artopia star Valerie Savarie

"Intergalactic," Valerie Savarie.
"Intergalactic," Valerie Savarie.

#92: Valerie Savarie A storyteller through her art, Valerie Savarie uses the physical manifestation of stories -- books -- as an integral part of her process. The Zip 37 member's work is often small in scale because hardbacks are her chosen medium, but her ideas are hardly limited; among the paper cut-outs, the artist incorporates varying textures, colors and shapes.

A participant in Westword's Artopia 2013 coming up this Saturday, February 23, in the Golden Triangle, Savarie talked to us about her format and who in the community most inspires her as one of our 100 Colorado Creatives.

See also: - Event: Artopia 2013 - 100 Colorado Creatives: Onus Spears - Reed Weimer talks new work, gallery drama and the birth of Navajo Street Art District

Westword:What are you most excited about presenting at this year's Artopia?

Valerie Savarie: There are two things: I have a few new works of altered book art that have strayed from my traditional style. Instead of painting onto canvas (which I attach to the book,) I have painted directly onto the book page itself. There is a wonderful translucence that happens with the text and paint that I am liking and playing with. These pieces lend themselves more to portraiture, where most of my other altered book art pieces focus on the figure and its surroundings. These pieces are a sneak peek for an upcoming show.

The other thing I am looking forward to presenting is on a much larger scale -- but still relatively small for art -- where I take paintings that, for whatever reason, I never completed. I trowel on some paint, add a little cattle marker and then sewn-on elements cut out from other paintings, as well as designs that relate to the piece. I haven't shown these before, and so am interested in what the response will be.

"Art Living Inside Art," Valerie Savarie.
"Art Living Inside Art," Valerie Savarie.

Are you working on any project/collaboration coming up that you're looking forward to sharing with the community?

I have a solo show coming up at Zip 37 that opens on March 15: me, myself & thou. I want people to engage themselves in the art -- my work is small, so people will have to get up close and really look at the details to see the full picture. I would like the public to document their connection or feelings they had about the show or specific piece -- I'll have blank postcards for people to fill out with their thoughts and then I will mail it back to them with a small painting, drawing, collage or poem inspired by what they shared with me.

I want people to realize that as different as we are (or told we are) from one another, ultimately, we share a lot of the same experiences and emotions. We need to rid ourselves of all the labels and categories we are fitted into, and embrace one another as simply another human who is looking for a happy, healthful and peaceful existence. In saying that, we also have to understand that the paths leading us to that goal are going to be different and we must respect those differences. There will also be a piece up for silent auction with all proceeds going to Radio 1190.

  If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?

Edward Gorey. Since I was in elementary school, I have always enjoyed his art (both visual and written.) The dark humor which permeates his work has always been inspirational; finding a balance of silliness and absurdity in sadness. It may not be something we normally pick up on, but it is there. He did so much with just black and white -- a simple palette of positive and negative space. Yet this simplicity carries with it such complexity of emotion. Less can be more.

Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?

Wow, "interesting" is such a broad term. I would have to say right now, it would be the Pope (because he is retiring). That hasn't happened since the 1415! That's almost 600 years ago. What are his motives behind it? They state (he's) not feeling physically or mentally up to the job, but that hasn't seemed to be a deterrent for most of the previous popes.

How can you retire from something you have given your whole life to and are married to? I could never retire from art -- no matter how long I do it, how much (if any) money I make, what the world's perception of my art is. I will always create art, even if it can only exist within me.

"Bird Woman," Valerie Savarie.
"Bird Woman," Valerie Savarie.

What's one art trend you want to see die this year?

If it's that bad and hasn't taken its own life yet, someone will take a hit out on it soon enough. Be patient, Grasshopper.

What's your day job?

I do computer drafting for American Stainless Steel -- a family-owned and -run business that does custom fabrication of commercial and residential stainless steel kitchens and components. It's the technical yin to my creative yang, and keeps me in balance and harmony. Although at some point soon, I would like to throw my life into chaos and just create art. More than likely, I would just develop two totally different styles -- one precise and calculated, the other fluid and subconscious. Or maybe I would just take up solving complex math problems -- I think either one would work.

A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?

Honestly, the first thing I would do would be pay off my student loans. Then, make sure my immediate family's needs would be taken care of. I also would establish art and music programs in all schools, community centers, and senior living homes -- across the globe for groups that want them. I would get every book that I turn into art digitally scanned, then distribute copies to anyone that wanted them. I would probably volunteer a lot, and just keep producing art, exploring art and try to develop an understanding of one another within the masses -- through artistic expression and appreciation.


100 Colorado Creatives: Artist and Westword Artopia star Valerie Savarie
"Am I Dreaming?," Valerie Savarie.

What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?

Just come out to the galleries and experience art. I think a lot of people feel intimidated by going into a gallery -- (as if) they will either be pushed into buying something, or will feel stupid for not knowing enough about art. Art is for the people; all people. I get great ideas from talking with people that come to my shows and feel inspired when I can make that connection with the public. I learn new things about life, about what my art says to someone and what it says to me just by talking to people that venture inside the gallery.

Art is a way for us to communicate that doesn't require words; it creates a feeling when we experience it that we can't always put words to. Art opens up dialogues, so go out to the galleries, experience some art, meet some people and exercise your brain -- you will be happier for it.

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

I can't narrow this down to just one person; really, Navajo Street Art District would have to be my pick -- even though it's entity. I am a member at a gallery there -- Zip 37 -- but the art that comes from the district is so wide-ranging and unique. I admire it all; I am proud to call it home.

I can say, however, I do have my favorites within the district. (It's hard to accurately describe something that was created to be experienced, not read, about but I'll try!) Katie Hoffman is at Zip 37. Her art is, well, simply delicious. I can't get enough of it -- it's stunning, emotional, thought provoking. I can get lost in her paintings, not in just the imagery, but the technique and skill used to achieve the final piece. The morphing of space and elements is magical. I would love to be a fly on the wall of her studio to see how she does it, and what she listens to while creating.

Over at Pirate, I would say Jason Theel would be my pick. He creates these fantastic ceramic piggy bank sculptures ranging from teeny-tiny to grand. I remember him describing them before I ever saw one; he said he "makes pig sculptures with no eyes." When I went to his show, I was absolutely blown away -- they where not at all what I imagined. I decided I had to have one (well, two.)

My guess is that most people that see his work wouldn't even know it was a pig unless they had been told so. Danma vs. V2R2 (Dan Ma & Veronica Reeves) over at Next are just over the top -- pushing boundaries, challenging viewers, hitting you in the face with bold colors and enticing imagery that you have to look away and think "what just happened - what did I just see?" Then of course, turn around and take a few seconds. They make art that bridges gaps between gender, culture, age and reality. They are who I wish I was when I was their age, but since I can't go back in time, I simply absorb as much as I can from them without being too creepy.

I don't know a lot of the members of EDGE, but I do know they live up to the name. Many of the members explore art in ways that can make us feel uncomfortable, because it makes us question who we are, what we believe, what is truth and what is deception. I so admire and respect that approach to art.

Don't forget to use the hashtag #Artopia to tag your conversations on Twitter and Instagram. To buy tickets to Artopia, visit our Ticketfly site. Use the promo code ARTOPIA to get $5 off!

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