100 Colorado Creatives: Jaime Kopke
Kopke co-curated the design exhibition, Once Removed, in New York (2012) as part of ICFF.
#30: Jaime Kopke
Jaime Kopke hails from Massachusetts, but ended up in Colorado, bringing cultural gold in her pocket. She's helped spark more than a few creative projects here, from the city's ongoing Pecha Kucha series to the Denver Community Museum, a short-lived but brilliant pop-up people's reliquary that threw imaginative shows using the contributions -- and wishes, hopes and dreams -- of everyday folks. In her spare time, she kept the design blog, Designklub, and contributes to another at mocoloco.com. After shutting the DCM, Kopke took a break to complete her graduate studies, finally returning here in 2011 to a position at the Denver Art Museum, where she assists in adult programming and helps curate the museum's ongoing Untitled evenings.
We asked this born idea-maker to share some of her ideas via the 100CC questionnaire; read on to find out what makes her heart beat.
See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Christina Battle
Jaime Kopke (left) and Angela Schwab, founders of Pecha Kucha Night Denver.
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
When I was writing on my blog, Designklub, I would do an infrequent post called Future Friends. One of the people I highlighted was Japanese architect Terunobu Fujimori. I have no idea what kind of project we would do together, perhaps designing some sort of meeting place/structure for happenings, but his work is incredible. He's been called a surrealist architect, creating these other-worldly buildings that are fantastical, but that also have humble qualities which are so appealing. He incorporates a lot of natural materials into his work; roofs of dandelions and grasses are common, along with walls made from charred wood. I admire that he incorporates a lot of research and traditional techniques into his projects, but that he applies them in a totally new way. Fujimori is also part of this nebulous (at least by Google standards) group called the ROJO Society. From what I can gather, ROJO is made up of Fujimori and a group of friends that document their city, looking for intriguing patterns/traces left by humans or nature, and photographing the things that are unusual and/or out-of-place. In a world where everything seems to need to be documented, it's refreshing that the project is more personal and doesn't need its own website or broadcasting. He is a little mysterious and I like that. Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
I love the work of Arabeschi di Latte, an Italian collective that works in food design. Food is always at the heart of their work, but it is really more of a means for connecting people and stories. They create convivial happenings of all different forms, from workshops and pop-up restaurants to installations and brand styling events. One night they may be hosting a compost dinner and the next day they'll be running an open workshop where visitors grind and knead their own flour from a variety of plants. I think food is such a great connector and can be used to break down social barriers. Of course, the US has way stricter health and liability laws, so it would be hard to do the kind of free-spirited projects they do without a lot of permits and expenses, but the basis of their work is inspiring.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
With the constant flow of information we have at our fingertips, I feel like trends move so quickly you almost can ignore them. It's easy to look at blogs and websites to stay up-to-date, but there are so many sources and opinions now, it's also easy just to skip it. Over the years, I have come to appreciate the web for research and personal inspiration, but seeking trends is tiresome. If everyone just does work they are interested in, it will all be OK.
Kopke designs and produces the DAM's monthly late night program, Untitled final Fridays, including this summer's blow-out performance with artist Nick Cave.
Photo courtesy of the Denver Art Museum.
What's your day job?
I am the manager of adult and college programs at the Denver Art Museum. I feel really lucky that my job involves working with local creatives on almost every project I do. I have seen the creative community grow in amazing ways since I moved to Denver eight years ago. My goal in my position at the DAM is to get creatives seeing the museum in a new light -- as an active resource in their lives -- a place to meet other creatives, get inspiration from the collections and share their work. Our monthly late night program, Untitled final Fridays, is basically an open platform for creatives to share their skills, expertise and work with visitors. Museums, in general, hold so much potential for creatives to tap into. Whether you need to find an interesting new color palette, pattern or research a certain technique, museums are full of inspiration. Forget Pinterest and go see the real thing. Then sketch it, make notes, chat about it and go make it. A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I love what museums are and what they offer to society. I would probably start some sort of incubator/test lab for practicing new museum models and ways to engage audiences. Similar to what I did with my project, the Denver Community Museum, but now I'd partner with all different types of museums to help them experiment for their own institution. And since there are unlimited funds, I'd set up a creative-in-residence program as well to help design the projects. I'd bring in two to three people working in different fields and pay them their regular salary for six months to a year, so we could get some big projects done. What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Between Create Denver and the recent re-opening of McNichols, I feel like the City of Denver has done a lot to focus the spotlight on local creatives. McNichols alone is an amazing resource. Being able to propose projects of all kinds for the space, and having it open to the public for meetings/work is great. I am sure the booking schedule is getting more filled up, but hopefully it will stay nimble enough be able to include more spontaneous projects as well.
I'd still love to see a program like Storefronts Seattle happen in Denver. It seems like a lost opportunity for the arts scene to have storefronts sitting empty, just waiting to be used, and artists who need a space to work and/or exhibit. There has got to be a way to match up property owners and artists, one that is mutually beneficial and extremely low-cost or free for the artists. This is more of a community project though, rather than something just for the city to take on. It would take partnership between the city, business owners and the creative community.
Last summer's community design exhibition at the DAM, Open For Design.
Photo courtesy of the Denver Art Museum.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
This is a tough question because I get to work with so many creatives every day at the DAM. I am constantly meeting new people who I had no idea existed -- weavers, soundscape musicians, wood workers and more. It's exciting that there are so many diverse areas of the arts being developed in Denver.
Two creatives I admire though are Andrew Novick and Buntport Theater -- for mostly the same reasons. Andrew is this unstoppable force, coming up with the most creative and wonderful projects, both large and small. I have no idea how he gets it all done, but the most important thing is he does it. The same goes for Buntport. They are the mad scientist geniuses of the theater world. I am constantly in awe of the originality and breadth of their work. What's on your agenda for the rest of 2013 and beyond?
At the DAM, we are gearing up for the next season of Untitled final Fridays, so we are seeking out creatives to help us produce the program and starting to plan our events.
On a personal level, I'd like to fit in some independent projects again too. I have lots of ideas cooking -- right now they involve fossils and radishes (two separate projects). I would also love to find a venue for an exhibition I have researched and organized. It is a show about designers who are incorporating plants into their work in dramatically new/wild ways. I've contacted all of the designers and it's ready to go -- we just need the funding. So I guess going back to the previous question, add this to my list of projects for unlimited funds. Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community this year?
The organization is already getting attention, but I think Warm Cookies of the Revolution is ingenious. The idea of creating a civic health club is so innovative and yet, it also serves a huge need in our community. My favorite creative projects are the ones that bring friends and strangers together, just to slow down and connect. I think WCoR does this in a really novel way and I can't wait to see how this idea expands over the next few years. I could easily see civic health clubs popping up in other cities and countries as well; I think people are craving this kind of personal interaction.
Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.
Do you have a suggestion for a future profile? Feel free to leave your picks in the comments.
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