Tory Tepp's "SubVert: Denver," made with materials he found on Denver streets.EXPAND
Tory Tepp's "SubVert: Denver," made with materials he found on Denver streets.
Lila Thulin

The 48 Hour Summit Brings Socially Engaged Art to RedLine

“In order to be a strong ecosystem where artists can thrive, we have to have a healthy amount of cross-pollination” says Libby Barbee, Arts in Society and Programming manager at RedLine. It’s that aim, along with a vested interest in socially  and community engaged art, that anchors the 48 Hours Summit, a free and open-to-the-public series of talks, workshops, and visual and performance art on August 11 and 12 related to the gallery's annual theme: (dis)place.

This is RedLine’s third 48 Hours Summit. After its first, thrown-together iteration, the nonprofit recognized that the gathering of artists around art that addressed local issues filled a void in the gallery world. Now, Barbee expects between 150 and 200 attendees to drop by to see the accompanying Land Trust exhibit, engage with performance and interactive exhibits, and attend workshops for artists and art advocates alike.

RedLine landed on the theme (dis)place prior to the Ghost Ship fire and the closure of Denver DIY venues Rhinoceropolis and Glob, but those events made the issue even more salient to local artists. “It’s a topic that comes up in every single meeting that I have these days,” says Barbee. The current political climate has also added urgency to creating art with a social message. “Are we whittling away our time in our studio while the world is falling apart?” asks Barbee, voicing the sentiments of many artists she’s spoken with.

Becky Wareing Steele's miniature community, "Utopia."EXPAND
Becky Wareing Steele's miniature community, "Utopia."
Lila Thulin

This weekend will see the Five Points space buzzing with activity, but volunteers and artists were already bustling around the gallery on Wednesday, setting up. RedLine resident Becky Wareing Steele explains her piece "Utopia" as “a new society that I’m creating” in miniature with tiny domed modeling-clay homes. "Utopia" is complete with a registry of actual people (represented in the work as centimeter-or-shorter figures), a national anthem one of the residents is composing and a small pin that Wareing Steele wears on her overalls. In a show that confronts the consequences of having to leave a home, her art is “trying to create a place where everyone does have somewhere to be,” she says.

Meanwhile, Florida artist Tory Tepp’s hands are dirty as he works on "SubVert: Denver," a series of grocery carts collected from the streets and dumps and made into portable gardens that grow produce like chard, kale and cucumbers.

Ryan Fedderson's "Black Snake Rising" looks lovely and serpentine at first, but then you realize that the black coils are an oil spill. Viewers can place provided stickers on the art to add to the scene.EXPAND
Ryan Fedderson's "Black Snake Rising" looks lovely and serpentine at first, but then you realize that the black coils are an oil spill. Viewers can place provided stickers on the art to add to the scene.
Lila Thulin

Barbee and co-curator Kirsten Walsh give a tour of the other exhibits, just as they will at the gallery’s opening reception on Friday. They turn over the cards of Daisy Patton’s memory game, where players must match pairs of almost-extinct species by flipping over two squares at a time. They explain the thought behind Brian House’s "Animas."  On first impression, the piece consists of four large, inscrutable rectangles of polished metal. But the metal is actually wired to create sounds based off live data on chemical levels in the Animas River in southern Colorado. To Walsh, House’s piece illustrates how socially engaged art can come in subtler forms than a bright and blunt mural; she and Barbee aimed to highlight this variety in Land Trust.

The 48 Hours Summit’s workshops and performances proposed by local artists are similarly diverse. In addition to talks from local activists and artists like Wareing Steele, attendees can try the Brazilian martial art of capoeira, watch Curious Theatre perform a play written at its young playwrights' workshop, or pontificate with a cocktail in hand on the Great Shout Soapbox, among dozens of other options.

Walsh is particularly jazzed for RYAN! Feddersen’s 1 p.m. workshop on August 11, “How to Have Fun (While Addressing Some Serious Sh*t)." “I hope I walk away with a few new tools in my toolbox,” she says.

And more than that, she hopes Denverites gain new artistic wrenches or percolate new ideas at the summit, even if it’s just a quick twenty-minute stop. “We want you here; we want you to be a part of it,” Walsh says.

The 48 Hours Summit begins at 7:45 a.m. on Friday, August 11, and wraps up at 9 p.m. on August 12. The Land Trust exhibit opening reception will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on August 12. Before the hors d’oeuvres and a performance by Life/Art Dance, Barbee and Walsh will lead a tour at 5:30 p.m. Land Trust will be on display at RedLine through August 27. For a complete schedule and descriptions of the activities at the 48 Hours Summit, visit Redline online. Register for any part of the event here.

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