#57: Dmitri Obergfell
A Colorado native, Dmitri Obergfell graduated from the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design under the watch of Clark Richert in 2010. He's since embarked on a career of international scale, making art that turns classicism on its head, sometimes quite literally, as in the case of a proposed outdoor sculpture of an upended statue that he hopes to complete next year at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. What does this newly anointed RedLine resident artist think about his place in the local art world? He discusses this and more in his answers to the 100CC questionnaire.
Dmitri Obergfell, "Phaedo" series installation image, Chameleon automotive paint on wood panel and aluminum, 2014.
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Collaboration is not a regular part of my art making process, but I recently read an article about North Korea's Mansudae Art Studio that was interesting. They make and export monuments to countries like Ethiopia, Senegal, Germany and Malaysia. The monuments are what you'd expect to come out of North Korea -- basically, giant Orwellian monuments of propaganda. I like the idea of subverting Mansudae Art Studio, but I am not sure how that would work ethically or politically. Their work is topical to a project I am currently working on with the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. The project is a large outdoor sculpture that is based on the concept of public monuments called "Go Home Bacchus, You're Drunk." In short, the outdoor sculpture focuses on the tension between the act of erecting giant monuments and the consequential vandalism of those monuments. Essentially, I am interpreting the monument as a bellwether of a political landscape. Sort of like an informal conversation between bureaucratic aesthetics and the public.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Sterling Crispin. I think his approach to art and technology is really intriguing and inviting. He has a levelheaded interpretation of how technology is developing and I think it is a good perspective for something so daunting. His interest in technology being an extension of humanity can be really beautiful.
Dmitri Obergfell, "Four Kingdoms," concrete, bowling ball, Bondo, quartz crystal, 2012.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
I wouldn't mind seeing sentimental illustrations, youth culture photography and street art taken down a notch, but not die. Trends are an important aspect of art.
What's your day job?
Making art is always my first priority, but I do some things on the side. I help with exhibition installation at the MCA Denver, build stuff with NM Studios and occasionally do some snowplowing.
dmitri Obergfell, "Recollection Moon" ("Phaedo" series), Chameleon automotive paint on wood panel, 2014.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
In no particular order: Buy a Walmart and destroy everything inside of it, then burn it down. Buy political influence and use it to reform campaign financing. Support underprivileged communities. Build a museum for my wife, Cortney Stell, to curate. Buy a stable of Kentucky Derby quality horses for my mom. Make a bunch of art. Buy a bunch of art. Travel. Buy courtside season tickets to the Nuggets. Put my niece and nephew through college.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
I think Denver has been doing a pretty good job of supporting the arts. I have lived in Denver since 2005, and it has been pretty amazing to watch Denver's support for the arts grow. If there were any room for improvement, I'd say creating incentive to keep talent in Denver and further development of alternative galleries, like Dateline and the Dikeou Pop-Up Space on Colfax.
Dmitri Obergfell, "Go Home Bacchus, You're Drunk," Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art project rendering.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
There are so many, it is hard to mention just one. I have a lot of respect for Colin Ward and Stephan Herrera. Those guys are inspiring people and artists. Zach - the main mane - Reini is producing great work. Jeromie Dorrance and Adam Milner (who recently moved to Pittsburgh for grad school) for opening Dateline. Devon Dikeou for her contributions to Denver's art landscape. And the reason for the season, Clark Richert. My neighbor that makes piñatas like a factory. And most importantly, my wife Cortney Stell.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
I will be ending 2014 with several exhibitions in Rome, Houston and Denver. In September, I will have some paintings and a sculpture in a group show at Montoro12 in Rome. I have a solo show opening at Gildar Gallery in October. At the same time, I will be participating in a two-person show with artist Raphael Zollinger at Gray Contemporary in Houston.
As mentioned before, I am currently working with the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art on a large-scale outdoor sculpture, for which we are building public support and hope to have it completed in 2015. I was also fortunate to be accepted into the RedLine residency program, so I look forward to being a part of that community and having a studio in a social environment.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local art community in 2014?
I think Molly Bounds will get noticed more. She has a strong style, and the paintings I have seen are pretty good. Geek Mythology Productions is making cool music videos for drag queens like Adore Delano, and I think people are starting to take notice of their talents.
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