100 Colorado Creatives: Lonnie Hanzon
#17: Lonnie Hanzon
Lonnie Hanzon is a bit of a wizard; in fact, he once held the title of Wizard-in-Residence at the Museum of Outdoor Arts. His artistic oeuvre is a cabinet of curiosities (an exhibit he staged while at MOA bore the same name), a baroque mixture of whimsical public art, starry contemporary holiday displays and bottled minutiae from another time and place.
A few of his accomplishments? The Evolution of the Ball arch that's amused baseball fans since Coors Field opened nearly twenty years ago, Hudson Holiday's two-year seasonal light show at Hudson Gardens (which has moved on to new heights at the Houston Zoo), an ethereal chandelier at Palazzo Verdi in the Tech Center, and more magical public art to come; the list is long and gilded by Hanzon's unstoppable creativity. He's definitely one of Colorado's most creative artists; read on for his answers for the 100CC questionnaire.
Lonnie Hanzon, Chandelier Chardon.
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
It would have been amazing to have been one of the original Imagineers for Uncle Walt, but I think I would collaborate with "Mad" King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1886). His imagination was both Wagnerian and Busby Berkeley-esque. His life was one big multimedia opera from start to the tragic end. If the powers around him understood in his time what he was doing for style and tourism in the future, maybe they wouldn't have drowned him.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Producers with Artichoke in the U.K. and Punchdrunk in NYC. People who are developing the next genres of experiential art by blurring the lines between visual, performing, dining and environmental events. I want to add rides and theme-park elements to that mix. I think the next arts/entertainment paradigm (think Disney, Cirque) is about to shift again.
Lonnie Hanzon, Houston Zoo Art Car.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
Art that is craft-less -- obtuse works that boil down to lazy riddles that often cause the viewer to feel stupid or feel nothing. Pure gall. In my world, art has great power, and with that power comes responsibility to the viewer, the audience.
Lonnie Hanzon, Doll House Village, Houston Zoo Lights.
What's your day job?
This is it -- thankfully, for all three shifts.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
Oh, my, unlimited is a very big word! I think we would need to start with ending world hunger, peace in the Middle East, global ethic, equality for all and, of course, save the earth for future generations. While we were working on those, I would pull together a Colorado-based dream team to design and build a traveling caravan called ARTmusement Park, a sort of grand moveable feast. It would travel the U.S. and then start spawning new productions all over the world, spreading the life-enhancing nutrition of the arts.
Lonnie Hanzon, Evolution of the Ball, Coors Field.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Understand that we must get our creatives out to larger audiences, and get larger audiences to come here to see the arts. Colorado is an amazing place to create, but its market is simply not big enough to support the creative output or pay what it's worth. So we need to export. We need more national and international gigs for our Colorado Creatives. Colorado has had some success with launching nationally in the music category, but we need to adopt the same attitude toward all the other arts. It's just like the Gold Rush. We have amazing hidden gems here, but we need to dig for it and get it out.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Because of the usual scale and mix of my work, it usually takes a village. I have been lucky to work with so many incredible Colorado Creatives. I could never single one out. But when thinking about how to answer that, my mind is flashing on so many great people. It has inspired me to make a list. Not finite by any means, but wow, what a great exercise! (Visit Hanzon's website to see who's on his 2014 Dream Team list.)
Lonnie Hanzon, small Cabinet of Curiosities.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
I am honored to be one of more than fifty artists helping printmaker Mark Lunning celebrate the Open Press 25th Anniversary Show, which is up right now at the McNichols Building, and I will return to McNichols in September as an instructor for the ArtMakers Denver Urban Retreat -- Workshops on Reliquaries, Idols and Headdresses. We will finish the sculpture for the Lamar Street station on the Light Rail W line called Lakewood Legacy Trees in the coming months.
I have some wonderful sculpture commissions in Westchester, New York; the D.C. area and Beverly Hills (on Wilshire!).
I am very excited to be working on my first book.
The largest holiday project will be the Houston Zoo Lights, which sold over 210,000 tickets in its second season and needs to expand again. We continue to work with Downtown Dallas Inc. for City Lights and create the tree for the Palladian window of the flagship Neiman Marcus store in Dallas.
In my copious free time, I am working on several bodies of two- and three-dimensional artwork that will not be released for several more years, and I'll continue to consult with a variety of fine and commercial clients.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2014?
I'm excited for Nicole Banowetz. She is doing wonderful work that is so authentic and fresh. She's already booked to be showing at the Museum of Outdoor Arts, the Arvada Center and Pirate gallery this year, in addition to all the teaching she does -- and working with me.
Learn more about Lonnie Hanzon online.
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.
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