Box Set

To break out of the “record a record, play a CD-release party, go on tour” box, John Common turned to friend Alicia Bailey, owner of the Abecedarian Gallery, for help. Together they came up with the Common Box Project, a multimedia collaboration that’s grown to involve more than sixty artists across the country. Every artist received an identical box, created by local woodworker Nicolas Willert, that’s designed to one day hold a copy of Common’s new CD in a recessed compartment. They also got some of the music and lyrics, and maybe an image or two, from the in-progress record as inspiration. The rest was up to them.

“To me, what’s cool about this box project is you’re going to see sixty-plus different, individual, unique people who have been quote-unquote forced to express their art in an identically shaped object,” explains Common. “It’s this weird kind of combination of unique art inside an incredibly standardized form.”

Bailey confirms that the results she’s seen so far have definitely broken out of any common box. “There’s none that are even remotely similar to one another, even though some are working off the same lyrics set,” she says. “I do see projects where there’s a quality of sameness overall, and this project does not have that. It’s really dynamic.”

The response from artists wanting to participate has been so overwhelming that Common is looking at taking the show on the road, touring around regional Common Box Projects. Currently he’s in talks with a half-dozen other cities, from Los Angeles to Asheville, North Carolina.

Denver’s exhibit opens at 1 p.m. today at the Abecedarian Gallery, 910 Santa Fe Drive, #101, and will close there with a free listening party for the new record from 7 to 10 p.m. on July 18. For more information, including a list of participating artists, visit or call 303-340-2110.
July 9-18, 2009


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