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Fantasia 2014: part art exhibition, part concert, all interactive crazy aquarium experience

Colin Ward and Stefan Herrera are the co-organizers of Fantasia 2014.
Colin Ward and Stefan Herrera are the co-organizers of Fantasia 2014.

Fantasia 2014 is billing itself -- at least on Facebook, anyway -- as a "performance festival." But it's not a big, multi-stage summertime throwdown for thousands. Fantasia 2014 is an intimate experience, one that co-curators Colin Ward and Stefan Herrera hope will draw people to fest location Rhinoceropolis, especially those who have never been to the DIY space. It's an opportunity for newcomers to mix and mingle with the built-in audience that has been a part of the art and music created there for close to a decade.

Fantasia 2014 spreads over two days, opening June 6 with a free evening featuring interactive installations, participatory performance-art pieces and a whole lot of exploration. In the month leading up to the event, Rhinoceropolis was transformed -- its rooms and outdoor spaces have morphed into multi-level, color- and light-saturated sculpture gardens and installations from local and national artists.

"Fantasia events are about, well, rather than taking some art and displaying it in a white cube, like a gallery, it's about taking the whole space and painting in the subconscious vision and imagination that would be in an art piece -- but painting that directly into the space," explains Ward. "It's kind of like an alternate diorama -- it's kind of like being in a life-sized diorama."

Ward reveals that the visual theme for this year's Fantasia 2014 environment is a "laser-tag arena/coral reef/planetarium/aquarium sort of feel." Rhinoceropolis's facelift for the occasion will, like many installation events and shows that have happened over the years, become a part of what the venue/home will look like long after the show is over. Remnants of the creative work will always physically remain, which Ward says is just part of what happens when a space is allowed to be turned into art that operates as a home for other art.

A massive white tarp will angle down from the roof into the back yard, creating a tilted canvas onto which video-manipulation duo VidKidz will project changing art. The front room will house a viewing area where a collection of clips created by local artists and curated by Herrera will run continuously throughout the weekend.

Chris Bagley -- who recently shot a video for Wheelchair Sports Camp and who, along with MasterMind Kim Shively, made the Wesley Willis's Joyrides documentary -- will have an interactive video installation where viewers can be filmed and their silhouettes trailed by rainbows.

Mark Sink and Kristen Hatgi Sink will also be doing audience-welcome participatory work and Chelsea Bashford will be running a prop-heavy photo shoot with anyone who wants to get in front of her camera. And that's just some of what is slated for the first night.

More on the music featured is on the next page.

 

A peek inside Rhinoceropolis, where a pre-existing Thomas Scharfenberg mural is being incorporated into the installation. Scharfenberg also contributed new work to Fantasia 2014.
A peek inside Rhinoceropolis, where a pre-existing Thomas Scharfenberg mural is being incorporated into the installation. Scharfenberg also contributed new work to Fantasia 2014.

On Saturday, music will take center stage as an electronic-heavy lineup brings Thug Entrancer, Cop Circles, Mystic Bummer and more to the venue. Ward and Herrera are both visual artists who make music -- Ward performs as Alphabets and Herrera as Docile Rottweiler -- and it was important for them to allow these two scenes to mesh seamlessly into one experience.

"One thing I see a lot is, like, there will be a music show and there will be four bands. Then there's an art show and it's like, three hours long, and you look at art and you leave. I'm not dissing anything, but that's not pushing the boundaries of what you can actually do with a space," says Ward of Fantasia's mission to bring art and music together into one experience.

With two previous editions in 2011 and 2012 of Fantasia under their belts, Herrera and Ward say that this year's version will only be bigger, better and more immersive. The two both stress that it is the collaborative work with other local musicians and artists Luke Levitt, Ben Donehower and Laura Conway and many more behind the scenes that make this edition of Fantasia 2014 especially powerful.

"It is about creating an immersive environment," says Herrera. "I know that Colin and I have always talked about criticizing the way public spaces are used, and then we happened into a situation where we were able to create a huge installation like Fantasia. We wondered, how could we maximize that into the the most ideological -- in terms of our own ideology -- potential? Last time we did Fantasia, there was, like, four of us that were doing most of the grunt work. But now there are all types of people who are in on it and are contributing."

Zach Reini, Taylor Boylston, Emily Montoya, Jesse Briata, Thomas Scharfenberg, Dmitri Obergfell, Ryan McRyhew, Alicia Ordal, Kim Shively, Cap'n Fresh, Lockbox, Jennifer and Original Sin are just some of the dozens of artists and musicians participating in this two-day festival. The first night, June 6, is free; Saturday night, June 7 is a suggested donation of $10, but no one will be turned away. For more information visit Fantasia 2014's Facebook pages for night one and night two.

Be my voyeur (or better yet, let me stalk you) on Twitter: @cocodavies

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Rhinoceropolis

3553 Brighton Blvd.
Denver, CO 80216

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