“Pangloss” refers to Dr. Pangloss, the talkative optimist in the Voltaire classic Candide. And “Gravitron” is the name of a spinning amusement-park ride with a high thrill level. Mashed together, Pangloss Gravitron is a Denver artists’ collective informally spun around a concept. “The general idea is about invested hope,” explains founding member Tracy Tomko. “It’s kind of a loose blind-faith thing, where we all make artwork because that’s our happy place.”
And naturally, the group’s inaugural show, Half the Floating World, which opens today at Vertigo Art Space, explores that path, as well as its detours. “In our ideal life, we’d all be making artwork all the time, but while doing that, things from the real world begin to seep into our work and we end up confronting social issues and stuff,” Tomko says.
Visualizing how that happens is the true theme in what could turn out to be one of the most interesting group shows of the year. The works of Erin Asmussen, John Haley III, Patrick Loehr, CT Nelson, Mark Penner-Howell, Meagen Svendsen, Tomko and guest artist Kieran Collins share threads yet are wildly different, from Haley’s twisted-metal blacksmithery to Penner Howell’s symbolic pop studies of innocence lost; though this exhibit showcases each artist individually, as a group they hope to venture into collaborations — what Tomko sees as happy coincidences garnering excellent public response — in the future.
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Visit Vertigo, 960 Santa Fe Drive, to see Half the Floating World through December 29; the gallery will also be open evenings until 9 p.m. on Fridays for the duration, in particular for an artists’ reception on December 14.