Visual Arts

Derrick Velasquez's Black Cube Exhibit Exposes the Bare Bones of Construction

Like most Denver residents, Black Cube artist fellow Derrick Velasquez has grown accustomed to seeing apartment building after apartment building appear throughout the city. The “blocked, stacked and stereotypical-colored” boxes are the inspiration for his upcoming exhibition, New Brutal, which will debut tomorrow in the future home of the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, as the third in a series presented by the nomadic museum. As Velasquez’s project focuses on dissecting the construction process, he says it’s fitting that it will be in area where construction is constant.

“I’m stripping layers down of a construction site and really showing the bones,” Velasquez says. “I know how they’re being built and what the ‘bones’ look like, because I see these condos everywhere.”

Velasquez will utilize plywood and crown molding, materials that correlate directly to the construction of the Stanley Marketplace. Mark Shaker, partner of Flightline Ventures and one of the minds behind the Stanley, says art in the middle of a construction site fits perfectly into the project's “Stanifesto” and core values.

“Our whole idea is that we love partnering with innovative concepts and people,” Shaker says. “Right now Black Cube will utilize our 10,000-square-foot event center while trucks are plowing through the area, and by 2016, we’ll have 48 independent businesses operating in the marketplace.”

Shaker and Velasquez both agree that one of most intriguing aspects of this collaboration is the physical location of the Stanley Marketplace, between Stapleton and Aurora. This portion of the Front Range is often neglected when it comes to interesting concepts, Shaker says — and that's one reason Velasquez says he's excited to work in the space.

“The [Stanley Marketplace] building is still being gutted and intersects where Denver, Aurora and Stapleton all meet, literally on the edge,” Velasquez explains. “New Brutal will be able to cross this threshold and membrane, exposing art and culture that’s so far been ignored in Aurora.”

New Brutal is Velasquez’s largest-scale work to date, and the incorporation of crown molding is new. Although he is perhaps best known for his dynamic "Untitled 88" wall sculpture in the Colorado Convention Center, Velasquez chose deliberate plainness for his Black Cube exhibition; he was inspired after seeing an Anselm Kiefer exhibit with Black Cube executive director and chief curator Cortney Stell in Milan. “Anselm Kiefer’s The Seven Heavenly Palaces combined concrete and shipping containers in a site-specific project, like Black Cube,” Velasquez says.

While Velasquez isn’t originally from Denver, he has been here since 2008. He says that although he doesn’t have native eyes, he does have an important perspective that he’s bringing to his Black Cube exhibit.

“When I first got to Denver, it was right after the economy crashed, and there was a whole lot of nothing going on,” Velasquez says. “I was here when suddenly all of these buildings began springing up, and I watched Denver turn into this huge housing market. That influenced my work.”

New Brutal will run in the Stanley Marketplace, 2401 North Dallas Street in Aurora, from Thursday, November 12, to Saturday, December 12. The sculpture can be viewed on Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. A free opening reception and lecture by Velasquez will be held in the Stanley Marketplace at 7 p.m. Thursday, November 12; RSVPs must be made in advance at [email protected] 
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Lauren Archuletta is a contributor for Westword's arts section covering the Latinx community and reproductive health.

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