The relationship between people and their gardens is an ancient one, primeval as a redwood, humanity's link to its own natural beginnings. And not only do we love gardens for their beauty, but also for the creativity they inspire. That's how it is for Boulder artist Cha Cha and a diverse group of fellow sculptors, painters, dreamy forest sprites and junk collectors: Each one of their dirt patches is a living artwork, an imprintable, aesthetic symbol of artistic identity. "Usually people have more formal, linear gardens. But artists don't think in a linear way at all; they're all over the place. They see things most people would overlook," says Cha Cha, who calls her own little Eden a "fairy garden."
Last year she joined forces with Boulder Library gallery coordinator Karen Ripley to mine ten of Boulder's unique art jungles. Photographers documented these canvases as they unfolded over the summer; the resulting record, The Eccentric Garden, goes on display today at the Boulder Public Library Exhibit Space, 1000 Canyon Boulevard. And next week, the library will host a garden tour that winds its way through the participants' xeric and overgrown plots filled with found objects, yard-sale chatchkes, kinetic sculptures, devotional figures, mosaics and more.
They're all one-of-a-kind, but Cha Cha's especially enamored of Rebecca DiDomenico's garden -- really an outdoor room that features oddly placed Asian stone objects and a concrete wall that the artist stuccoed, painted cobalt blue and inlaid with smashed abalone shells. "And then there's my favorite part," Cha Cha says. "Rebecca spread cocoa shells all over on the ground, so it smells like chocolate. When you're PMS-ing, it's fabulous!"
The Eccentric Garden opens with a reception tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. and continues through June 27. The garden tour goes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 13; a map and garden guide are available at the library for $10. Call 303-441-4397 or visit www.boulder.lib.co.us for details. -- Susan Froyd
Haz You Like It
Little ILK makes big changes
Danger! Danger! ILK Art Space, the tiny gallery tucked into Pirate: A Contemporary Art Oasis, is officially changing its name to HazMat Gallery/Denver. "All of the founding ILK members have left, and we've brought in a lot of new blood, so we figured, why not have a new name?" says Troy Briere, director of HazMat. "We have quite a few big changes in store."
The first one is the inaugural show under the new marquee: Sap Demons, an installation by recent Metro State fine-arts graduate Stephen Plount. During an opening reception from 7 to 10 p.m. tonight, HazMat will celebrate its new moniker as well as Plount's debut solo show. "We're trying to get back on our feet," says Briere, also a sculptor. "We're going to focus on getting some really good, challenging stuff out there."
An artists' co-op with twelve members, HazMat is also looking for a place of its own. "Hopefully, by the end of this year, we'll be in our own space that has room for both studios and a gallery," says Briere. In the meantime, Sap Demons, based on a book of Plount's poetry by the same name, will hang in the gallery at 3659 Navajo Street through June 20.
For more information, call 303-861-8919 or 303-458-6058. -- Julie Dunn
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Photographer Jennifer Loshaw's In My Skin: a photographic autobiography is an installation of images revealing her struggles and ultimate triumph. Badly burned when she was just seventeen months old, Loshaw underwent numerous agonizing surgeries throughout her childhood and teenage years. In My Skin is both a photographic record and a reflective self-examination of her journey. "I found that I was a much stronger child than I am a woman," she says. "It didn't hurt me then; why does it now? "In West Africa, the appropriate response to 'How are you?' is 'I am in my skin,' meaning 'I am alive and well,'" says Loshaw, an Alabama native who has lived in Denver for the past five years. "Their culture understands that the body is the house for the living spirit. Our spirit makes up our identity."
In My Skin opens tonight at VSA Arts of Colorado's Access gallery, 2256 Larimer Street; Loshaw will discuss her work in a free lecture at 7 p.m. The show continues through June 26; call 303-777-0797 or visit http://co.vsarts.org for more information. -- Kity Ironton
Swallow Hill presents art that sings
For a guitar player, there's no question what makes an instrument a work of art. All he needs to observe is the transformation evident in a guitar, how the wood's been lovingly worked and bent into pure, reverberant timbre. But what about everyone else? The Swallow Hill Music Association, an organization that's well acquainted with the artful side of that musical divide, decided to turn the question into a fundraiser that should appeal to musicians and non-musicians alike. The group approached 25 local artists and, as Swallow Hill director Jim Williams explains, asked them to turn "a bunch of cheapo guitars" into collectible works of art. The resulting harmony of creativity and whimsy goes public when Artists in Resonance opens tonight with a reception from 5:30 to 9 p.m. in the lobby of the Park Central Building, 1515 Arapahoe Street. The evening includes musical performances by Swallow Hill friends and the live auction of a transformed instrument sponsored by Mayor John Hickenlooper (Hick himself is the rumored auctioneer). The show continues through June 29, with a concurrent online auction on Swallow Hill's website, www. swallowhill.com; for details, call 303-777-1003. -- Susan Froyd