Danette Montoya creates jewelry and found-object treasures for her business Tinkerbirds, making a living by way of her own imagination. That keeps her busy enough, but somewhere along the way she and fellow starving artist Rebecca Peebles decided to open a gallery. GroundSwell was different from the start, beginning with its location in the front room of an East Colfax Avenue pot shop. But its ideology is what made it great: The two partners -- who won a Westword MasterMind award in 2013 -- imagined it as an incubator where artists could try out ideas, collaborate or show work that cut just a little closer to the bone.
Now, Montoya and Peebles are about to turn the page on a new chapter. GroundSwell will close its doors after its next show, which debuts Saturday and ends May 6, and both women will be moving on to future personal projects. On the eve of the gallery's last opening, we asked Montoya and Peebles to give us a peek into their futures; Montoya's 100CC questionnaire touches on new horizons and more.
Westword:If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Danette Montoya: Judy Pfaff. She is one of my personal heroes who has helped create and has stayed true to form with one of the most difficult mediums to find success in: art installation. I admire her ability to transcend the decades and still have relevancy. To put it simply, viewing her work makes me want to go directly home and make art. I imagine her "collages in space" would be a joy to make, an experience with the unexpected and an exercise in mindfulness.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Every morning when I open my computer, I check out Colossal. I begin my day being inspired by the artists, designers and thinkers showcased there. Currently, my favorite is artist Andrea Mastrovito, who does these incredible installations with repurposed books. I'm a collage and assemblage girl myself, and I love to see what people are reimagining with their materials at hand. Most of the artists Colossal shares are doing something extraordinary and visionary. It's a great way to start your morning, because these artists take it to the next level and remind you that the visual arts can truly transcend.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
I would like to "evolve" the negative perception of Denver as a "cow town" that doesn't know anything about art or have artists worthy of collecting. I call it a trend because I feel like I hear it a lot, and it is a bit contrived. Through my work at GroundSwell Gallery, I've had the opportunity to be around so many inspiring artists working really hard to put Denver on the map. We need to celebrate that and encourage them to keep up the good work. If we don't support our local arts community, how will we ever build our own unique scene that we can call our own?
What's your day job?
I work part-time at the Denver Art Museum in membership and guest services. My other daily work involves GroundSwell Gallery and Tinkerbirds, my art-by-craft business.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
That's a big question. I would of course continue building my creative arts business, but if I knew I had unlimited monetary support, I would definitely need to bring something to the community. I would start an artist-initiated and -directed foundation that could bring projects, exhibitions, education and intelligent discourse to Denver. It would create vital conversation about how the arts are evolving outside of the gallery and the art market. It would especially focus on the arts and other disciplines, how they interrelate, as well as the importance of visual dialogue in our lives. I also think it would be great to help artists receive more small business training that they often don't get in school that could help them build their careers.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Knowledge is power. I think the more we educate people on local arts and have programming that is able to relate to people the more we will grow. Support for these type of endeavors is key, as is dialoguing with people and businesses that have the means to do so. We need to inspire them to invest in our art community and the best way to do that is by example. I think there are more people and businesses out there willing to support these endeavors than we think. They just need to be convinced as to why it is in everyone's best interest to make the investment.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
My favorite Colorado Creatives right now are Donald Fodness, Sabin Aell and Rebecca Peebles. They are the amazing team that I was able to work with to conceptualize Direct Connect Denver, and I think they are all powerhouses! I can't wait to see what they do in the future, as well as to continue to work with them on other DCD projects.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
I am excited to get back in my own studio and continue developing product for my creative arts and craft business, Tinkerbirds. I have been taking small business courses and have been enrolled in a savings/grant program through United Way that will help me make a $5,000 investment towards growing my business, so I'm excited to get the ball rolling. I will also continue working with Rebecca Peebles on various community projects and in developing an agenda for Direct Connect Denver next year.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2014?
There are so many incredible artists here in Denver, it is hard to narrow it down, but I think Suchitra Mattai and Sandra Fettingis are going to get some well-deserved attention this next year. The work that Sandra Fettingis did at the convention center is an excellent example of successfully implemented public art. Suchitra Mattai is a Guyana, South American-born artist who relocated to Denver not too long ago. She does illustration, painting and installation, and I think she will definitely make her mark here.
GroundSwell Gallery's final show, Karen Fisher's Anyone lived in a pretty how town, opens with a reception from 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, April 12, and runs through May 6. Visit Groundswell online for information.
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.
To keep up with the Froyd's eye view of arts and culture in Denver, "like" my fan page on Facebook.
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