100 Colorado Creatives: Good Thieves Press

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#79: Good Thieves Press

The grassroots of any art community? That's easy. Artist cooperatives and the newer model of studio communities like Wazee Union provide both a supportive camaraderie for artists just starting out and a launching pad for adventurous and creative ideas that might fall outside the requirements of more commercial ventures.

See also: - 100 Colorado Creatives: The Ladies Fancywork Society - 100 Colorado Creatives: Terri Bell, artist/gallerist at tbellphotographic - 100 Colorado Creatives: Marie EvB Gibbons

That's what makes it so interesting to watch a young co-op like Good Thieves Press get off the ground in a town where some revered co-ops are celebrating decades of bringing fresh art to Denver audiences. Good Thieves call themselves a "creative conspiracy," and that's how they roll -- echoing some of the spirit of the original Pirate, one of Denver's first co-ops, which started out on a similarly defiant note.

Young and unafraid to try new things, the Thieves -- who also operate a print studio on the premises -- are taking what's theirs, little by little, hosting shows and readings and, this Saturday, an open-entry show called The Art of Deception. It kicks off at 5 p.m. April 13 at Good Thieves Press, 2401 Stout Street, with "an evening of art, lies and half truths," and continues through April 27.

We asked the Good Thieves to take on our 100CC questionnaire, which they did democratically, with each of the seven members tackling a different question and collaborating on communal answers for a couple more. Here's their outlook on life and the arts.

Westword: What and who are the Good Thieves?

Good Thieves: Good Thieves Press is a creative conspiracy.  We are a cooperative artist studio, gallery, project house and community located at 24th and Stout streets.  We are printers, painters, sculptors, drawers, thinkers, lovers and dreamers. We currently have seven members who strive to keep each other active and accountable in life and art.  Our goal is to be THE art makers and doers in the Denver art community. We are Good Thieves!

Continue reading for more on the Good Thieves. If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?

Javier Flores: If we could collaborate with anyone in history, it would probably be Rembrandt Van Rijn, the Dutch painter and printmaker. Rembrandt had financial hardships in his lifetime as well as success, which is something we can personally relate to. The paintings and etchings that he created were and are influential even into this modern era. As painters and printmakers, we can appreciate his images, which are rich in depth as well as symbolism and underlying narratives, not to mention one of the highest levels of rendering.

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

Corrina Espinosa: Right now, we are very interested and highly inspired by conceptual artist Shea Hembrey.  He's the artist who put on an international biennial showcasing the works of 100 artists, all of whom were completely imaginary.  He invented each artist, wrote their bios and statements and then made each of their bodies of work!  The entire biennial was based on creative lies. Deception in art is something that I love to play with in my own work, and Hembrey's creative trickery was a major inspiration in the development of our upcoming Art of Deception show.

What's one art trend you want to see die this year? Michael Frazier: I'd love to see the romantic notion of artist-as-independent-genius die off ASAP. Since art is rarely created in a vacuum and seldom functions without an audience, I'm encouraged to see more collaboration and inter-creativity at hand in Denver's art future!

What's your day job?

Martin Schneider: Our Good Thieves maintain a wide range of day jobs. We are teachers, substitute teachers, mechanics, service folks and so forth. We all work daily toward making Good Thieves Press our day job.

Continue reading for more on the Good Thieves.

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

"Erin Bee" Lea-Dougherty: The first thing we will do is hug our new patron dearly and give them glittery kisses and a life-time of complimentary, hand-printed T-shirts and gear.  We will purchase the whole building and knock down the wall to expand our gallery space. We will turn the upstairs into office/work space, including a classroom for our community outreach workshops and programing. We will also acquire the empty lot across the street and turn it into a community garden and sculpture park. After our expansion project, we will travel the world together to see some of the amazing wonders, such as Machu Picchu and Chichen Itza. This travel experience will inspire and inform our community outreach workshops and individual bodies of work. We will grow our creative conspiracies to include more Shirt Cart endeavors, hosting student shows for art clubs at Metropolitan State University of Denver and participate in social justice activism.

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

R. Tyler Christopherson:  Enthusiasm! I have come to realize that art is a living, breathing thing. Without active participation, its presence in the community can diminish. Art needs makers, it need doers, it needs people who hit the streets and put up art without asking for anything in return. Most of all, it needs to be shared. We need more awesome large sculptures in the Denver area like the fantastic large blue horse and big blue bear. Whether it's in a gallery or out on the street, the more art we can get out there, the better. It does no good to have art tucked away in basements and locked up in storage where it can't be seen. 

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

Amy Odorizzi: Our favorite Colorado Creative is Tymla Welch and the rest of the crew at the fantastic Lowbrow. Finding the right balance between inspiring creativity, salesmanship and community is tough, and those inspiring folks seem to have found it. We here at Good Thieves aspire to such balance and hold those able to achieve it in awe.

What's coming up for you in 2013?

Good Thieves: We have a lot of exciting things coming up in 2013: The Art of Deception show opens on Saturday, April 13, we have a robot show in May, and we plan on doing some community outreach this summer.  But our biggest, most exciting project, which has been top secret until now, is our custom-built Wandering Shirt Cart, a bicycle-driven cart with an attached silkscreen press! Watch for us this summer, wandering around at festivals, downtown and various events, where we will be printing and selling unique, custom T-shirts and gear! 

Throughout the year, we'll be casting our radar 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.

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

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