Black Cube Debuts Derrick Velasquez's New Brutal 2 at Doors Open Denver

Black Cube alumni artist Derrick Velasquez.
Black Cube alumni artist Derrick Velasquez.
Lauren Archuletta

Since the giant shipping container first came onto the Denver art scene, Black Cube has never been like other museums, especially when it comes to building lasting relationships with its artist fellows. On Saturday, April 23, as part of Doors Open Denver, Black Cube will launch the first of two alumni projects for 2016 with artist fellow Derrick Velasquez and his New Brutal 2.

In 2015, Black Cube worked with three artists, including Velasquez, Chad Person and Desirée Holman, each of whom participated in a year-long fellowship that culminated in a site-specific pop-up exhibition. The alumni program is a continuation of the artist fellowship, offering additional support and opportunities for artistic development. Person will complete one of his professional-development goals and show all eight of his large-scale inflatables together in an exhibition at RedLine in September; Holman is performing her Black Cube live cinema piece Sophont in Action at the opening of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s new building next month.

“We love our artists, and we want to have a committed relationship to them,” says Cortney Stell, Black Cube’s executive director and chief curator. “What better way to have that relationship than to help foster the continuation of their ideas and find different paths to help execute their ideas?”

Derrick Velasquez's New Brutal.
Derrick Velasquez's New Brutal.
Black Cube

New Brutal 2 is a continuation of Velasquez’s Black Cube pop-up exhibition New Brutal, a project that was installed at the future Stanley Marketplace in December and focused on the aesthetics of buildings in Denver. Velasquez compared two contrasting architectural moments in New Brutal, using the custom crown moldings and ornamentation seen in older eras as well as very cubical structures that can be seen throughout Denver real estate today. Stell says his new piece, which will take the form of an outdoor sculpture in La Alma/Lincoln Park’s sunken amphitheater, is more about the architecture of the buildings.

“This is kind of a weird sculpture because it's a sculpture talking about buildings,” Stell says. “From the street side, the sculpture will finish the facade so it looks like a pediment from Greco-Roman buildings, but on the inside of the amphitheater, there are going to be these two building-like structures similar to the New Brutal raw materials mixed with finished and unfinished.”

The construction site for New Brutal 2.
The construction site for New Brutal 2.
Black Cube

The chosen location for New Brutal 2 has been known for gang violence in the past, Stell notes, and because of that and ongoing construction in the area, she and Velasquez were required to pull permits from Denver Parks and Recreation for the exhibition. “The artwork might get tagged, and the shipping container might even get tagged in this location,” she says. “Derrick is looking forward to this as a space for communication and as a space for authority.”

Black Cube’s New Brutal 2 is being funded by Doors Open Denver and a grant from the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation that supports free, architecturally inspired arts activities. “Partnering with Doors Open Denver, the City and County of Denver and especially the  Denver Architectural Foundation is wonderful, because we can have these conversations around the artwork from an architectural side,” Stell says.

New Brutal 2 opens with a Doors Open Denver reception from 3 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 23; Velasquez will speak at 5 p.m. New Brutal 2  will stay on display at La Alma/Lincoln Park amphitheater, between East 11th Avenue and Osage Street, through May 16; it will be open to the public from 1 to 5 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. Find out more at blackcubeart.org.

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