#11: Jerry De La Cruz
Artist Jerry De La Cruz, who nows splits his time between studios in Denver and Miami, has been a force in the local art scene for more than forty years. His signature style is all his own, sometimes tapping into cultural roots and sometimes not, reaching beyond the limitations of labeling. De La Cruz is now pulling together work from across the decades of a long career for a retrospective opening in October at the Museo de las Americas; following are his answers to the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Jerry De La Cruz: Since being an artist is such a personal journey, for me I’m not sure that I would care to “collaborate” with any other artist of the past if that collaboration were on a single art piece. I’m not a big fan of art by committee, whether that be a committee of two or ten. If that collaboration were on a project such as an exhibition or art movement, then count me in. That said, I think it would be great to hang out with Leonardo da Vinci during the Italian Renaissance. I would certainly like to go back and meet many artists whose work I admire. Outside of art, it would be equally inspiring to “collaborate” with Nikola Tesla.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Actor Jonathan Goldsmith, because he is “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” He can speak French in Russian, and on his business card, it simply says, “I’ll call you.”
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
I don’t care for the concept of “art trends,” as it sounds too much like “this year’s designer wall colors.” By their very nature “trends” are primarily driven by marketing concerns; therefore they have expiration dates stamped on them. Wait a while, and they’ll die on their own.
Jerry De La Cruz, "Sandra," oil and acrylic on canvas.
What's your day job?
This is an interesting and at the same time sad question. Sad because most artists do have day jobs, as most people do. I do not have a “day job” per se and have not had one since my military service days back in the early ‘70s. Outside of being a “full-time” artist since then (with an eight-year stint as a radio station owner in the ‘90s), I have had what I term "entrepreneurial experiences."
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
Unlimited funds for life? The answer is everything — not the least of which would be to feed the poor, travel the world, clear the national debt, fund cancer research and save the whales. As for my art, I don’t think the money would do much, except to offer access to any supplies I could think of to explore, explore and explore.
Jerry De La Cruz, "Fun in the Sun," collage on vintage engraving.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
When you speak of ‘the arts,” you are actually speaking of two different segments of the community. You have the administration of artistic formats by nonprofit entities, who use public money to promote their specific goals. Then you have the artists, who use their talents to express themselves and hopefully make a living doing so. The two segments co-exist, but have very different agendas. For both, the one salient thing is obviously access to money. I think a thriving economy does more to help the arts than any “arts” law or regulation the city or state can pass. The arts are notoriously at the bottom of most peoples’ lists when it comes to spending. So anything that can be done to improve “everyone’s” ability to get to the bottom of their lists is paramount. Moreover, passing laws and regulations that help a narrow spectrum of the population is not, in my opinion, fair and equal treatment.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Colorado has one of the richest arrays of talented and creative people in the country. My taste in art is very eclectic, so picking a favorite from the ones I know about would be very difficult. As a courtesy to all my friends in the arts community, I will not single anyone out.
Jerry De La Cruz, "Frida Puts on a New Face," collage and mixed media.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
The last two years have been totally filled with art stuff, real-estate dealings, acquiring a second home in southern Florida, and most recently, preparing for my 46-year retrospective in October. Outside of taking life as it comes and spending more time in the studio, I have no specific agenda for the coming year. That being said, I do want to spend more time hanging out with my artist friends.
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Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2015?
I’m afraid that I have been so busy with my own concerns over the last couple of years that I am not fully up to speed on the current “crop” of yet-to-be-noticed creatives. From my experience, it actually depends on which artists are capable of making the most “noise” and which arts administrators, gallery owners and critics are willing to jump on that band wagon. I know this answer sounds a bit cynical, but I have been doing this for more than 45 years and my perspective is guided by my own experiences.
More than ninety works by Jerry De La Cruz will go on display at the Museo de las Americas in Jerry De La Cruz: A Road Well Traveled, a 45-year retrospective exhibition that opens October 15 with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. and runs through January 16, 2016. Learn more about Jerry De La Cruz online.