People power the arts scene in Denver. Not money or business connections or bending to public demand, but creative people who have the courage to make things happen in their own imaginative ways. As the new year started, we went on a search for people to watch in 2014, and found that Denver and the Front Range have creative people to spare. Somehow, we managed to narrow our list to twelve names; read on to learn more.
See also: Fifteen arts flashbacks from 2013
Adam Milner's name is becoming commonplace in the local art world, partially because people seem curious about what this whiz kid will do next. Part of a wave of young artists not content to stick with one medium, Milner's got his finger on the pulse of what's next, dealing with murky issues of human relationships in a century when everything moves faster and people are inventing and reinventing themselves on the Internet just as quickly, in full sight of everyone else. He crowned 2013 with Wave so I know you're real, a solo at Emmanuel Gallery that included a 24-hour performance in which he talked continuously to whomever would listen. Yes, he's the real deal in 2014.
Anthony Garcia Sr.
Anthony Garcia Sr. is the wheel who turns the BirdSeed Collective, a small-scale community agency with big ideals. Originally formed to provide arts outreach to underserved youth at Street Kidz Inc. in the Globeville area, while providing resume-building opportunities for local artists, BirdSeed is expanding its reach and Garcia spent a good part of 2013 throwing fundraisers, including last September's Fashion Smash show. He also found time to create one of two murals in Globeville, the neighborhood where he grew up, on the walls of the I-70 underpass at 46th Avenue and Lincoln Street, a project that invited the community to come and lend a hand. Garcia is a hands-on visionary who works from the roots up; we're excited to see what he envisions for 2014.
Throughout 2013, we saw Amber Cobb's name come up again and again in 100 Colorado Creatives questionnaires (where fellow artist John McEnroe suggests she's ready for a show at the Denver Art Museum) and on the street, as someone to watch...and we concur. Cobb's oeuvre combines a spirit of invention with determination and moxie, and her willingness as a woman to master the art of heavy fabrication is inspiring. And we saw a lot of Cobb in the galleries last year, too, with a show at Gildar Gallery and participation in First Draft at the McNichols Building, as part of the Biennial of the Americas, as well as work included in several shows at RedLine, where she is currently a resident. Cobb is on the upswing -- watch this space in 2014.
Usually, we wouldn't watch someone who's just moved to New York City as a person making things happen in Denver, but Brian Freeland, artistic director of the LIDA Project and a Westword MasterMind, intends to continue pulling strings here this year, thanks in part to the global village that is the Internet. That means we won't be saying goodbye to LIDA, which will go through some obvious changes but still call Denver its home. Freeland is anything but daunted by the challenges: He visualizes national tours or performances split between two cities, online brainstorming and the use of technology to change the face of what we call theater...and possibly some other stuff he hasn't thought of yet. Wherever he lives, Freeland's heart is still beating in Denver, and we're looking forward to feeling that pulse.
Fashion Design Center Denver
There's really a team of people working to make the Fashion Design Center a reality, and for the local fashion community, it's a big deal. When it officially opens later this year, the center will provide studio space and small-run production opportunities for local designers looking to expand the scope of their lines on a national level. Designers Lisa Ramsfjord Elstun, Tricia Hoke, April Hoy and Stephanie Ohnmacht are all playing key roles in bringing this missing link to fruition, along with participation from big names like Mondo Guerra; in essence, the FDCD will act as Denver's garment district, bringing industry and new possibilities to the local scene.
2013 was a year of changes for artist Bruce Price, who saw his work on the walls of the Denver Art Museum and in a solo at Emmanuel Gallery, but also parted ways with the Rocky Mountain School of Art + Design, where he taught, and Plus Gallery, where he'd been a gallery artist for several years. So it's the freedom of new horizons for Price, an established artist who still has places to go, that interests us in 2014. This is the year Price gets to do things his way, for better or worse.
Amanda and Ben Berg Wilson and the Catamounts really began to turn heads in 2013 after a few years of coalescing: With roots firmly in the fringe mentality, they've created their own alternative mainstream based on the idea that theater-going should be fun, and it's proven engaging for Front Range audiences looking for something original and out-of-the-ordinary. And the addition of the ensemble's FEED events -- theatrical fundraisers built around a slow-food feast -- only makes the pot sweeter. Seeking theater that's not stuffy? We think this will be a good year to head for Boulder.
We got to know young Denver painter Charlie Boots during his three-month PAIR residency last summer at Powerhaüs Studio, when he reported on his progress with a Westword Show and Tell blog spot. And it was revelatory to learn to learn about a young artist's life with Boots as our tour guide: Bright, articulate and inquisitive, the recent art-school graduate made the act of stepping over the ledge into the real world authentic and poignant. As talented an artist as he is a communicator, Boots took the PAIR mentoring program seriously, and we can hardly wait to see where he ends up as his own man.
Kristen Hatgi Sink
As a photography power couple, Mark and Kristen Hatgi Sink are the consummate collaborators, but both have healthy careers of their own, as well. In Hatgi Sink's case, the career, which straddles the line between fine-art and commercial work, has blossomed and flowered -- you might say literally, considering that floral imagery is a strong theme in her recent work -- into something promising. From the vintage wet-plate images she makes with and without her husband to showy art-show collaborations with the Goldyn boutique, she wowed us in 2013. And she kicked off 2014 right away with Flower Face, a beautiful photo exhibit of flower-decked models, currently at the Byers-Evans House Museum. Whatever comes next is certain to catch our eye.
Officially, Brian Corrigan calls himself a creative strategist, and that's fairly exact -- he makes things happen on a creative level that proactively binds small businesses, working creatives, micro-economies and big, eye-popping projects into urban happenings that the whole community can enjoy. His latest project, Oh Heck Yeah, does all of that on a scale grander than anything else he's done before: The plan to bring an immersive street arcade to Champa Street in downtown Denver is a whopper -- a really big fish -- that's already been partially funded by a number of groups and agencies, including a six-digit grant from ArtPlace America. He's still fundraising (the next event is at Crave on January 15), and if all goes well, next summer we'll be zapping at one another big-time in the heart of the city.
Dylan Scholinski's work and persona as an artist stem from a rough, identity-scarring start in life, but he's always faced his past with redemptive solutions, including his heart's work, Sent(a)Mental Studios, an umbrella program he founded to provide art-making mentorship for troubled youth and create a living memorial to LGBTQ suicides. But in 2013, as a RedLine resident, Scholinski's expressions as an artist have moved front and center, especially in works like the long-term performance/installation 72-Hour Hold, for which he turned a critical spotlight on the mental-health industry by spending a series of 72-hour periods in a tiny holding room he built at RedLine. Scholinski is clearly continuing to grow by leaps an bounds as an artist; we think that will continue in 2014.
There's no one more unorthodox -- and some would say completely nuts -- in the local theater/performance community than Adam Stone, a guy who never does the same thing twice, whether performing at Buntport Theater as the crazy genius behind Screw Tooth or in his musical incarnation, the Indestructible North. Stone's most recent endeavor, the zine Slug Tooth, tackles the art world with a vision similar to his other works, and it should only be a matter of time before he crosses over into still more disciplines. We can hardly wait to see how far Adam Stone makes our jaws drop in the coming year.
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