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Artist-run TANK Studios sets a new precedent in the local art scene

Derrick Velasquez in his TANK studio.
Derrick Velasquez in his TANK studio.

Walk into TANK Studios, and you'll find a raw but ordered space where one artist's studio segues into another's, and big windows, high ceilings and skylights unfold in a panoramic, circular pathway. Built out in a South Acoma Street warehouse in the Overland neighborhood early this year by a group of former RedLine residents whose shifts there were over, the shared workspace was designed to blend the buzzing energy of work being done with a hive-like sense of real community -- similar to what happens at RedLine, only not as formal or finished in appearance.

See also: What's Old Is New: Ironton Summer Group Show

Photos by Derrick Velasquez, unless noted.

Artist Ian Fisher in the studio.
Artist Ian Fisher in the studio.

"We wanted it to be dirtier," co-founder Derrick Velasquez notes as he walks through TANK's shadowed hallways and patches of natural light. Along with fellow artist Sarah Wallace Scott, Velasquez serves as manager of the completely artist-run space, where a new crop of studio-mates are now moving into TANK's recently completed second-stage buildout, doubling the artist community's size. The manager role, he says, will most likely be a revolving one in TANK's democratic society.

Joel Swanson's studio at TANK.
Joel Swanson's studio at TANK.

Not so much a public place, TANK is all about art being made, with seasoned local veterans like David Zimmer working alongside younger counterparts like Adam Milner. And there is no gallery, nor are there plans currently to add one. Rather, inside community -- and a shared cosmopolitan spirit of professionalism -- is the engine that keeps TANK humming.

Continue reading for more on TANK Studios.

New TANK community member Amelia Carley.
New TANK community member Amelia Carley.
Susan Froyd

The general mindset here is that the art must go on, even in a city where an artist's success seems to hinge on saleability, a second job and the ever-elusive chance of nailing down a major grant or commission. But if more public funding for artists doesn't seem to be a trend here, artists helping artists is: TANK, as an entity, is embarking on a collaboration with Adam Gildar's local Art-Plant program to create a curated national-scale residency on the premises.

Artist-run TANK Studios sets a new precedent in the local art scene
Susan Froyd

That partnership extends to include Showpen, a private artist residence administered by Denver artist Donald Fodness, through which TANK residents will also be privy to a free living space during the length of the residency. The first picks are being ironed out now by Art-Plant (but not yet unveiled); Velasquez says announcements will be made when the details are in place, and a formal fundraiser could be in the works for later this year.

Conor King's slice of TANK.
Conor King's slice of TANK.

And down the road, he adds, the TANK community might find other ways to give a hand to artists struggling through the early stages of their careers -- or even to more established artists seeking a toehold in the art world. Getting the word out nationally about the Denver scene is a serious goal of the venue's denizens, and it fits right in with the TANK model of an open, creative factory without doors or limitations, setting a precedent in Denver's arts community. For more information visit TANK online.

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TANK Studios

1474 S. Acoma St.
Denver, CO 80223

www.tankstudios.org


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