100 Colorado Creatives: Derrick Velasquez

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#28: Derrick Velasquez

Denver artist Derrick Velasquez seems to be everywhere in the arts world, and not just as an observer. Behind the scenes, he's helping wheels turn -- as a co-founder and manager of TANK Studios, as well as a booster of fellow artists who looks for ways to help them be more productive -- while also teaching and furthering his own career. Velasquez is a little obsessed with putting Denver on the map as an arts community, but he backs up his concern by giving that cause a voice and making positive moves, rather than just talking about it. We asked Velasquez to join the 100CC club by answering the questionnaire; read on to see where he's at.

See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Donald Fodness

Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?

Derrick Velasquez: Frank Lloyd Wright. His architectural creations were so varied and ambitious -- his brain must have been running at full speed at all times. I really appreciate his ability to think about larger concepts on a macro and micro physical scale. Ideas of extreme balance, gravity and communion with natural forces are exemplified in poetic and sometimes brash ways. Collaborating with him would be an intense journey through materials, cantilevers, and nature.

Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?

I've always been a big Gordon Ramsay fan as I love to cook. He is relentless in his ambition and pursuit of perfection. I want a studio critique from him! (I would probably cry...)

What's one art trend you want to see die this year?

Painters making non-paintings and calling other artists' work that aren't paintings, paintings. If that makes sense.

Continue reading for more from Derrick Velasquez. What's your day job?

I'm a full time artist at this point. As a side hustle, I teach a couple of foundations courses at Metropolitan State University of Denver. It's a great program and the students are really talented and work hard.

A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?

Unlimited is a funny word. I would buy the world (assuming the world can be bought) and release it to be free of borders, nationalities, and whatever trivial tensions might be holding humans back from solving the real problems that face the earth as a whole - unreasonably ideal and most likely chaotic, I know. If unlimited only means a few hundred billion dollars, and I can't buy the world, then maybe buy out the major galleries in the world that are really messing up the art economy and production and turn their spaces into K-12 children's art centers.

What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?

Individual, unrestricted artist grants. It really wouldn't take much to pay an artist's rent, studio rent, and food for a whole year. If we could take one-tenth of one percent of the $40 million public annual art fund to support actual Colorado artists, that $40,000 could go a long way to a few artists. There are ZERO grants in Colorado when places like Philadelphia has the PEW, Seattle has the Neddy and the Betty Bowen award (which is tied a grant tied to a show at the Seattle Art Museum), San Francisco has the SECA award and the list goes on. Denver cannot keep its talent if there aren't enough opportunities that aren't tied to poorly paid adjunct jobs or commercial gallery economies. It's a little embarrassing. Fortunately, there is a group who is attempting to start its own grass roots artist grant. It's called YES MA'AM PROJECTS. It's a small grant, but at least it's something!

Continue reading for more from Derrick Velasquez. Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

Probably Mark Sink. He has an ambition and fervor about him that is unmatched by people half his age. He's a true gem in Denver.

What's on your agenda for the rest of 2013 and beyond?

It's art fair season -- Robischon just brought some of my work to the Texas Contemporary art fair in Houston and Pentimenti Gallery in Philadelphia brought a decent amount of my work to the CONTEXT Art Miami art fair at Art Basel - Miami Beach this month. In mid- January 2014, I'll be in a show at Drexel University in Philadelphia. A group show at Robischon in mid-January, a group show at Alter Space in San Francisco and a small solo show in mid-February at BMoCA are also in the works. I'm going to be curating a show at Showpen of Janice Schindler's work this month. She's a brilliant young artist who recently graduated from RMCAD -- I hope to do some more curating in the near future. Finally, TANK Studios is my present and future. I will continue to make that the best studio space that I can.

Who do you think will get noticed in the local art community this year?

My hope is that some local artists start getting noticed outside of Colorado as it's really difficult to get your work out of the state. Everyone related to the arts in Denver needs to work together to make this happen (museums, galleries, universities, artists, etc). We need our best artists to work even harder, take a risk and apply to residencies (leave town and meet people), and make even better work. We have to push each other much harder than is being offered at this point. I hope artists like Laura Shill, Adam Milner, John McEnroe, Dmitri Obergfell, Don Fodness and Beau Carey can begin to get recognized for the quality of their art and relentless amount hard of work. And really, we can't get Clark Richert a killer show outside of Colorado? He has an incredible show over at Gildar Gallery right now that must be recognized out-of-state!

Learn more about Derrick Velasquez online.

Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.

Do you have a suggestion for a future profile? Feel free to leave your picks in the comments.

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