The arts in Denver: Ten people to watch in 2013
The Denver Art Museum was on a roll in 2012 and it isn't slowing down in the new year, with exhibits showcasing Georgia O'Keeffe and Nick Cave's Soundsuits on their way. At MCA Denver, the Ladies Fancywork Society will soon have its day in the sun its own exhibition. The folks at the Denver County Fair will be hoping that the third time's the charm. The Month of Photography is gearing up for another run, and the Biennial of the Americas will be back this year, too. As usual, creative people are taking advantage of D-Town's nooks and crannies, its delicious blend of high- and lowbrow concerns, and will be making new, exciting artistic statements in the new year.
All this got us thinking about where Denver's cultural scene will lead us in 2013 -- and who will be at the lead. In the story that follows are ten people -- in no particular order -- who we see leading the way this year. Who do you think will change the way we look at our town in 2013? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Donald Fodness: At first glance, the works of Donald Fodness -- which range from intricate drawings to full-blown assemblages and installations -- might seem like chaos personified, filled with a million unrelated things that make your mind go a little crazy, if in a good way. But in reality, every piece Fodness finishes is a well-conceived schematic of interlaced relationships between shapes and thoughts, one thing leading into another. They are funny, strange, mind-blowing and utterly original; we like to think of the artist as kind of a Bill Amundson on LSD. Over the last few years, he's had work up for the last Biennial of the Americas, as part of the Denver Art Museum's Blink! multimedia exhibition; along with sometime collaborator Alvin Gregorio, he's shown at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, among other places. And it looks like this will be another good year for him: Fodness is starting 2013 off by curating a show at Vertigo -- The Blob-(ish): Uncertain times breed uncertain forms, a group exhibition focusing on organic shapes in art (it also includes Lauri Lynnxe Murphy's first appearance here since she completed her MFA in Ohio); this summer, look for for his first solo at Plus Gallery. See also: - Apocalypse? How!, opening tomorrow night, embraces the inevitable end - The Flying O.H.N.O. Twins can explain, and will tonight at BMoCA
Mona Lucero: It's hard to imagine the local fashion world without Mona Lucero in it: While embracing the elegance of couture, she also has an artist's way of messing with that kind of style. Wear her influences on her sleeve? Absolutely, and it might be a hand-painted tribute she dreamed up in a playful moment. Lucero had her LoHi shop, Mona Lucero Design Boutique, for ten years before she finally closed it for good at Christmas; now she's headed off on a new path dotted along the way with pop-up shops for her faithful customers. The artist Mona will be more fully in charge in this new version, spending her days in the studio rather than behind a counter, and her retail presence will take to the internet and the occasional trunk show, though she's not yet sure exactly how that will all play out. The good news is that she's not going away. She's just expanding her creative universe in a positive way. See also: - Classic Style - Mona Lucero dishes on YSL and the magic of haute couture - Style Local: Mona Lucero Continue reading for more people to watch.
Theresa Anderson Theresa Anderson had a very good year in 2012. Her installation show with Rebecca Vaughan, Swank (fool), was a hit at Ice Cube Gallery, and she followed that by participating in the freely-flowing group soft-materials show Stuff(ed) at Laundry on Lawrence (an expanded version curated by Cortney Lane Stell and Amber Cobb will pop up at Pirate later this winter). She's also a member of the venerable Pirate Contemporary Art, and when she's not making art, Anderson runs Ice Cube Gallery at the Dry Ice Factory and also keeps an arts blog offering a valuable insider's view of the happenings in Denver galleries.
Garrett Ammon: Toward the end of 2012, Garrett Ammon's acclaimed and innovative Ballet Nouveau Colorado announced an important leap in the force that had produced programs, often collaborative, over the past two decades: BNC, the dance school, will become the Colorado Conservatory of Dance and remain in the company's old Broomfield digs, while BNC, the troupe, will move to Five Points as the newly christened Wonderbound, a name that conjures up new and more adventurous creative leaps.
BNC dances around poems and pop music and sexy stuff, too; its best-known work -- Carry On, a collaboration with the Colorado combo Paper Bird -- is indicative of the places Wonderbound is bound to explore in the future. "What we do is not what people imagine ballet to be," Ammon has said. "It's more a different reality, where movement expresses who we are as people. Ballet just happens to be the vocabulary that our dancers use to start from." Amen. Let the dancing begin.
See also: - Ballet Nouveau Colorado is headed for Five Points -- and Wonderbound - Paper Bird and Ballet Nouveau Colorado carry on with Carry On Continue reading for more people to watch.
Gamma Acosta, Art Basel
Gamma Acosta: There's a strong crew of street artists working in Denver, but Longmont muralist Gamma Acosta is also making waves with his hard work. And he is always working, both in commercial endeavors and his own projects, showing he has an especially artful way with the spray can wherever he points one. At the end of 2011, Acosta was one of a group of local street artists showcased in a street-art exhibition at the Longmont Museum; more recently, he created work at Art Basel Miami, and after his return, he painted a Sandy Hook tribute wall -- a heart-breaking scenario of splintering crayons in rainbow colors -- that moved one art collector to pay to remove the wall and preserve it (see the following video).
We're expecting big things from this young man. The world's his wall. See also: - Gamma Acosta on Street Cred, graffiti and the importance of street art
Thomas Scharfenberg, BMoCA
Thomas Scharfenberg: Early in 2012, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art's Petra Sertic kicked off the year with a bold show of work by three local emerging artists. Not the usual museum fare, it shed light on the future of art in the region, rather than honoring artists with a more solid foothold. Thomas Scharfenberg, a Rocky Mountain School of Art & Design alum and former student of famed Colorado geometrist Clark Richert, was one of them, and his rippling pattern paintings struck a note; more recently, he's transferred their pale candy tones to walls and bricks and flower pots and driftwood that adorn Wazee Union in RiNo. This fall, Scharfenberg collaborated with fellow Wazee Union artist Kevin Daviet and programmer M. Vincent Miller on a multimedia installation, "Rock Paper Projector," that cast projections on unusual surfaces.
Continue reading for more people to watch.
The Ladies Fancywork Society: We've been watching the women of the LFS for a few years now, as they've grown from anonymous, fly-by-night, yarn-bombing art pranksters to a more respectable -- yet ever gutsy -- entity on Denver's arts scene. We love what they do, and their approach to art -- the idea that it's for everyone, and that it should be serendipitous, too. This year, a couple of the ladies opened a shop, Lowbrow, on Broadway, again broadening their visibility and reach; the LFS will also gain leverage with an exhibition at MCA Denver in the coming months. That's a big step for anyone in this town, but we hope they never lose their sense of adventure.
See also: - Ladies Fancywork Society (and their crochet hooks) take over Union Station - Best Colorado People to Watch - 2011: Ladies Fancywork Society - An indefinite future for a giant blue ball and chain made out of yarn - Ladies Fancywork Society makes New York Times, called "Graffiti's cozy, feminine side." - Ladies Fancywork Society members open Lowbrow on Broadway - Lucky '13: Lauren Seip of Lowbrow Arts and Ladies Fancywork Society
Pangloss Gravitron: Another conglomeration of minds working together, the members of the recently formed Pangloss Gravitron artist collective -- Erin Asmussen, John Haley III, Patrick Loehr, CT Nelson, Mark Penner-Howell, Meagen Svendsen and Tracy Tomko -- share certain elements in their work, yet each produces pieces that are instantly recognizable as his or her own. They started off their partnership with a wow show at Vertigo; in the future, they say, they'd like to start experimenting with intergroup collaborations. This is a collective of unusually imaginative eyes and minds; the result can't help but be interesting.
Continue reading for more people to watch.
Evan Weissman: Weissman is already a visible Denver creative as a member of the always innovative Buntport Theater company, a group of create types who work in a collective way. That's more or less the Buntport credo -- like the old story of Stone Soup, everyone is fulfilled when each person brings something to the pot. From there, it's been no stretch for Weissman to conceive Warm Cookies of the Revolution, a concept that essentially does the same thing for community-building. The concept is simple: Ideas are presented and discussed over some kind of fun activity -- board games and letter-writing at the first two sessions -- and everyone enjoys warm cookies and milk while, with any luck, progress is made and consciousnesses are raised. The kind-hearted Weissman has a lot of ideas for growing this formula, and hopes to eventually find WCotR a permanent home. For the time being, though, a tree grows at Buntport. Long may it flourish. See also: - Cookies and Community - Warm Cookies of the Revolution invites you to share food for thought in Denver tonight - Warm Cookies of the Revolution goes global with a letter-writing party in India
Onus Spears: Bushy and decked-out in high thrift-gear, Onus Spears -- let's call that his stage name, though he has a long explanation for how it came about -- is a comedy booster who likes to take the mike himself once in a while, as well as a promoter of comedy shows. He's also a man of the people, and more specifically, an avid fanboy of Denver's artists, performers and writers, on whom he's decided to pour some love at Rawlitix, an intimate live talk and variety show he's begun hosting monthly at Deer Pile that features, well, not the usual people. And here's the thing: We have recurring comedy shows like the Grawlix and the Fine Gentleman's Club. We have storytelling and readings, the Narrators and My Teenage Angst. But until now, we didn't have a talk show...and certainly not one like this.
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