100 Colorado Creatives: Matthew Hunzeker
Matthew Hunzeker in the studio with some of his creations.
#55: Matthew Hunzeker
Back in January, our first 100CC subject in 2013, artist Donald Fodness, chose Matthew Hunzeker -- a northern Colorado ambient musician who performs using hybrid instruments of his own invention -- as his favorite Colorado Creative. It was an intriguing choice, purposely drawn from outside Fodness's own artistic milieu. Hunzeker, he explained, is a creative loner operating far outside the norm, in an off-the-grid world of his own making.
As Fodness said of Hunzeker:
He performs Folk Noir as a one-man band with instruments he pieces together using various cultural detritus. These instruments recall the bedpan guitar or cookie-tin banjo, but he also incorporates electronic parts and found digital samples. In addition to his music, I am really inspired by his hermetic lifestyle. He lives off the grid in a small rural studio, collecting water and living in rhythm with the sun. It reminds me of when I used to have a converted chicken coop as a studio and live in my van.
Be Brave! a Night of Songs Honoring Brenda Worley Billings
TicketsTue., May. 10, 7:00pm
That works for us. Hunzeker will perform as part of tomorrow night's Gorinto program, Homemade Instrument Showcase Redux, at the Mercury Cafe; he'll be creating drones and loops using everything from bone horns to a sitar-guitar hybrid. Music begins at 8 p.m.; admission is $5 and food is available for an additional $5. Visit the Facebook event page for details.
In preparation for the performance, we asked Hunzeker to answer our 100CC questionnaire. Continue reading for his take on the artist's experience.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Matthew Hunzeker: That's a hard question. I couldn't pick one specific person in to collaborate with; there are too many choices throughout history and I have many interests. I would say that I would love to collaborate with scientists doing work with regard to sound. Also, I would love to collaborate with scientists or researchers who work in the field of neuroscience. I would really like to collaborate with people who work with sound and music who could add to my work with a more scientifically based concept. One example would be to work with a researcher that does work to explain and understand different sound frequencies and how they affect the body, brain and mind. I'd like to have a better scientific understanding of what I do with my own music and sound art; collaborating in this area of interest would be exciting to me.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Right now a few people are really interesting to me in the world. I really admire and am interested in the artist Sabin Aell and her space, Hinterland. What she is doing with the space and with other artists is really inspiring to me personally. Also, Sabin is making outstanding solo works and works used in performance and installations at Hinterland and other venues. The shows at Hinterland are very contemporary, spiritually inclined, beautiful, and also have a deeper vision and concept. The space is primarily for less mainstream contemporary work, so it seems to me to be a space that promotes freedom of expression in its truest sense. Sabin and Hinterland are really interesting for me because most all of my work has an intentionally spiritual intention and effect; my work is definitely not mainstream as of yet and I have a vision that is similar in sensibility to what Sabin is doing and achieving.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
One art trend I want to die this year is consumption-driven art made purely for the intention of monetary gain, and anything that is purely ego-driven with regard to artworks and shows. I think both of these things are detrimental qualities for art in general and people that will be experiencing the work.
What's your day job?
My day job is my own art and music. I work every day in my studio or out in public and also online doing my different art and music projects.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
If a mystery patron offered me unlimited funds for life I would probably continue what I am doing presently but try to do a bit more with my work in different areas of interest. I would likely travel more often and perform more and see other parts of the world. I would for sure go to places that have asked me to perform my music where I cannot presently afford to go. I can also see myself opening up some sort of spiritually based art/music venue that would help showcase other artists' work and spread their message. This would give me a place to show and have works by artists and performers that I feel are doing something that benefits others via spiritual intention. I would promote collaborative shows and works that have a greater purpose. I would love to be able to curate events and happenings that have a profound effect on the audience. I like the idea of art and music having a certain esoteric concept.
I feel that right now the world benefits from creative people creating works that have a deeper meaning and work that impacts the audience on a deeper level of experience. I would definitely keep creating my own music, art and audio works, as well as perform, release strange records and likely use that space to work and live in.
I lived in Denver from 1999 to 2008, and it has changed a lot since 2008. I actually feel like Denver is doing a fantastic job to help the arts, and so many different people and places are extremely active in supporting the arts. I could see some kind of improvement in areas of 'patronage of the arts.' I believe more funding for the actual artists themselves, like more grant programs or incentives that would help artists with the cost to make and display their work, would be a great thing. I think Denver or Colorado could promote and hold events that art patrons and art collectors could go to and support local artists.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
My favorite Coloardo Creative at this moment is Edher Alan Paniagua. Edher is a painter living in Denver, and his work is from his personal spiritual visions and lucid dreams. I admire what he does because his work 'speaks' via visual forms in a spiritual 'language' and comes from either his own raw vision or from a spiritually channeled source. Edher's paintings are definitely unique to him, and he uses many different avenues and mediums in his work. Also, Edher has a way of spreading his works to others and working with interesting artists and gallery spaces, so his work is experienced by many instead of few. He trades or sells his paintings for things he may need to live and create and in doing this, Edher is putting his work into the hands of people who appreciate what he does, and everyone benefits. Edher is presently doing a weeklong residency program at Showpen Residency in Denver, where he is currently working out of a trailer as his studio. The works from the residency program will be displayed in Puerto Rico in another trailer that is a mobile art gallery. To me, this is a fantastic way to spread work and creativity from one location to another with similar vision.
I also want to mention the artist Viya Rogozina because her work is also visionary, and she creates with spiritual intent and has a way of spreading her work around and also promoting and supporting other people and artists in the process. She creates many forms of art, from photography to performance, and also recently published a book. I have so much gratitude for what she has done for me and for helping spread my work around and personally giving me a lot of inspiration to continue creating and performing the new works and music that I am presently doing. I admire how she works, and I admire that her work comes from a spiritually driven place that is uniquely her own. Both of these people's work have a profound impact on me as a person and as an artist and musician.
What's on your agenda for the rest of 2013 and beyond?
My agenda for the rest of 2013 is to release the first album of my newest music project, Of Earth and Sun, and continue connecting with people locally in Colorado and also worldwide. I have been fortunate enough to connect with a lot of people in Denver recently whom I admire, so I want to keep connecting and doing studio and gallery visits and hopefully work more with these people and venues. I see myself doing more music performance and working with art venues with regard to my music, playing shows for openings and also doing some installation works where I am part of the art.
I also want to keep recording new music and continue doing radio and releasing albums in Europe and other places. What I do is a bit more mainstream and accepted in Europe, so I have worked mostly with different people and entities in Europe with my music over the past four years or so. I would like to travel a bit more than I have, but not sure if my personal funding will allow that. I've started to create some interesting projects that are mostly in a conceptual realm. Right now I am in process of creating my own self-run record label and also have been and am continually doing a sort of ongoing recycling project creating work out of what people would consider junk.
I'd like to see those projects emerge from the realm of concept or just a few people working with me to something bigger. All of my works over the past four years utilize cultural detritus and embrace the concept and aesthetic of recycling. I am currently working primarily with audio, music and performance. My work is sort of "esoteric drone music," and ambient audio art. I create audio sculptures and homemade musical instruments from reclaimed materials and make them into functioning works. I am going to continue on with my personal vision and see who responds -- find the most fertile ground for what I do and more or less spread my word with my art and music.
Who do you think will get noticed in Denver this year?
That's a tough question for me because I have not lived in Denver since 2008. I am not sure who is being noticed currently and what the art currents are pointing towards right now in Denver. I live north of Denver about an hour, and I do visit Denver a lot but my current studio space is in a relatively secluded area. I tend to work in my space a lot and make a lot of time for myself to work without distractions. The upside of this is that I work daily and get a lot of work done and can continually work towards my vision. The downside is I am a bit disconnected from what is going on in Denver. I would say, generally speaking, that anyone doing something different and unique is going to be interesting to me and others.
For more about Matthew Hunzeker, visit his website.
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.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events happening in the Denver art and theater scene.