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Charlie Boots on finding unexpected mentors at MOA and the joys of collaboration in art

Charlie Boots on finding unexpected mentors at MOA and the joys of collaboration in art

Editor's note: Artist Charlie Boots is part of the inaugural pair of PAIR residents at Denver's Powerhaüs Studio. As part of his residency, he and his fashion-designing counterpart will be reporting from the real world via Show and Tell, as they learn the ropes from studio mentors Mona Lucero, Lauri Lynnxe Murphy and Jimmy Sellars. Applications are now being accepted for the second PAIR residency; visit the website for details. Here's the next report from Charlie Boots.

See also:

- Charlie Boots on the vagaries of sudden fame and wearing the mask

- Charlie Boots on his artistic process, Internet romances and why logos inspire him

- Charlie Boots on light-rail adventures, being a poor artist and why he is like Jesus

Katerina told me that I think too much. She's probably right.

There are things I've done my whole life as little games to keep myself entertained. Some of them are the basic games kids play: Stepping on only certain colored tiles when in a store. Kicking rocks. All the things kids do when they are bored and have no one around to play with. I never stopped doing these things, but have only found new ways of entertaining myself.

Wearing costumes in public places. Singing and dancing without regard to my current situation. Analyzing the logic of Mutually Assured Destruction. Thinking. Thinking. Thinking as if I'm on some political talk show, having to desperately defend my stance. Thinking as if people who radically disagree with me are breathing down my neck.

There is a reason why one of my paintings is titled "Perpetually Bored, Mildly Ashamed."

So much of my time has been spent in my own mind because of difficulties finding people with shared interests and corresponding personalities. I'm pretty sure there is nothing special in all of this; we all have some degree of difficulty relating to others. It's been a life-long pain in the ass. This experience is, I think, responsible for such blessings as the ability to develop the images in my paintings. You have to cultivate a certain peculiarity that is only borne out of seclusion to make the kind of work I make. You have to be really good at being your own source for conversation.

Charlie Boots on finding unexpected mentors at MOA and the joys of collaboration in art

Still, I realize the value in mingling with others, which is one of the reasons I apply for programs such as PAIR. My first blog post described the way this program helped me become acquainted with members of Denver's art scene, and it is well known by now that I've been spending my summer as a resident at Powerhaüs. What is less known is that, when I'm not in the studio developing my body of work, I'm at my internship at the Museum of Outdoor Arts, helping develop a show as part of this summer's Design and Build Program.

Organized by MOA, Design and Build offers a group of student artists an opportunity to work together on every aspect of a show centered around a pre-established theme. I applied for this internship with the knowledge that we would be working with the theme of "abstraction," a challenge for me, as I usually do figural work. On the first day of the internship, it was revealed that we would be abstracting concepts of "weather," specifically. This was an added challenge, as my personal work has little focus on "weather." This kind of challenge is another reason I apply for these sorts of things.

While many of the ideas for the pieces to be featured were provided for us on arrival, one aspect of the show includes each individual artist's abstraction of a chosen weather term. I chose the term "lightning," as I feel a more personal connection to that weather phenomena than, say, "sunny."

I am anything but "sunny."

Olivia, repping the Iron Man mask.
Olivia, repping the Iron Man mask.

Of course each artist's selected term was equally well suited to his or her personality. My fellow artists, as well as the weather term they chose to abstract, are as follows:

Alex Huninghake- Drought

Jesus Palma- Frost

Label Siler- Hail

Katerina Kapodistrias- Humid

Elizabeth Wong- Hurricane

Mallory Meisner- Monsoon

Mickey Boyd- Overcast

Bryce Johnson- Scorcher

Madison Markel- Spring Rain

Olivia Martins- Sunshine

Bre Nielsen- Thunderhead

Continue reading for more from Charlie Boots.

Katerina giving Alex a haircut.
Katerina giving Alex a haircut.
Photo by Elizabeth Wong.

I've been working with these people for a couple of months, tearing Tyvek for our Cloud

Walk, folding hundreds of pinwheels for our Wind Shadow, and paper mâchéing more than I've ever mâchéd in my life. All this has been done under the leadership of Cory Gilstrap, local master of all things puppets. Cory has provided me experience with materials I have yet to use in my personal work, which I hope will prove useful. I owe him a "thank you" for treating me as a peer as opposed to some kid intern, something I would have taken the time to chew him out for in this blog, had he not done so. So -- thank you Cory.

My issue with locating corresponding personalities has been subdued for the summer at least, as all of my peers are not only talented in their own specialized ways, but are also

interesting people. Bre and I have perfected the Top Gun high five. Katerina listened as I explained Wonder Woman to her. Olivia dealt with my incessant teasing. Mickey and I discussed the works of Phillip K. Dick and went to a record store, where I bought that Rhye album, after one of our shifts. Alex has restored my faith in the musical taste of Americans with his iPod. Jesus payed me a dollar for every pack of Sriracha sauce I could drink without vomiting. And about five of us had to deal with that annoying rash from those Styrospray1000 chemicals. Mallory is still dealing with it.

Cory and Bryce.
Cory and Bryce.
Photo by Elizabeth Wong.

Most importantly concerning my personal body of work, Cory has expressed his willingness to be a resource to me in the future, like the damn-cool fellow that he is.

Think about it. He's a puppet maker. Mascots, it turns out, are qualified as puppets. Thus, he knows how to make mascot outfits.

Fucking mascot outfits.

He has confirmed that he will help me learn this craft, which is something that will help me create the kind of environment I want my personal work to be shown in. I've had a desire to go to every show I ever put on as a cartoon bunny (again, I've been known to get bored and throw on costumes for the hell of it). Sometimes, dreams do come true.

In addition to meeting these artists, a Denver painter whom I greatly admire, Daniel Sprick, swung by the museum and expressed his appreciation of our work. When he knocked on the door, I was hanging our individual pieces on the wall with Olivia. I told her, "it's probably some creeper who doesn't get that the museum is closed," as we walked toward the door. When she pulled it open, I immediately recognized Mr. Sprick from his self-portrait.

Meeting Daniel Sprick.
Meeting Daniel Sprick.

This is how Broncos fans feel when they meet John Elway. This is how Protestants feel when they meet Tim Tebow.

We are currently finishing up our installation. It is titled Weather Suspended and is part of MOA's Art Abstracted show. Our work will be shown along with photography by Sally Stockhold and paintings by Virginia Maitland starting this Saturday, August 3, with a reception from 5 to 9 p.m. Come by and check out my first attempt at abstract art, along with the works created by and with my peers. Art Abstracted continues through October 19. Visit MOA online for details.

--Charlie Boots, August 2, 2013