Austrian-born Denver artist Sabin Aell -- mixed-media artist and photographer, maker of unusual jewelry, graphic designer, gallerist and curator -- casts a ray of sunshine down among the warehouses of RiNo: Not only is Hinterland, the gallery she and husband Randy Rushton run in their living space, known for its intimate, highly creative shows and welcoming ambience, but Sabin herself is a dynamo of talent, spreading beauty and the spirit of collaboration wherever she turns up. She loves Denver, and Denver loves her.
Ironically, Sabin never expected to end up in a place like this: "I submitted to a call for entry at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins. Mark Sink was the curator, and I was accepted; I came for to the opening reception and stayed for five days. During that time, I met Mark and many other interesting people, and I began thinking that Denver sounds like an interesting place to go. I came back and did a collaboration with Mark in 2005, and then I met Randy." She ended up staying here.
"I love it totally; I think it's fantastic," Sabin adds. "I like the artist community here and how nice and generous the people are. In Frankfurt, the community was not as prolific. And there is a lot of talent in Denver. I was surprised to see that Denver is like this. It was never on my map of cities where I might move someday, but now I cannot think of a greater place to be." Like many other local creatives who adore this town, Sabin thinks Denver's isolation is what make it so grand. "The community here evolved out of almost nothing," she explains. "People have a lot of freedom out here in the middle of nowhere on the prairie. There's not as much pressure as on the coasts, and also, the land draws people who are like this." And she hopes in the future to see that freedom expand and, naturally, to be a part of that movement: "I would love," she says, "to see the artists come out of studios and take over the city." With Sabin Aell in charge, we're looking forward to that day.
We asked Sabin a few questions about art and Denver and life. Her answers follow on the next page.
Westword: Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Sabin Aell: I would rather name some movements I am interested in. One is the Eco-City Development. The idea to live and help building a sustainable city with vertical gardening, local greenhouses, aquaponics, chickens and goats in back yards, etc., is essential to me. Another movement I am intrigued with is the "Genuine Wealth Model" initiated and described by Mark Anielski. In his book Economics of Happiness, he explains his concept, based on a sustainable well-being of communities rather than on possession or control of assets. Another group of people I am interested in are artists who are blurring the edges between media. The categorizing of artists is no longer needed nor working. This for me opens up another dimension to creativity and art. One artist I would like to mention is a young French street artist named JR, who won the TED Prize in 2011 for his project "Women Are Heroes." His spirited, community-minded large-scale work all over the world is highly remarkable.
WW: What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
S.A.: I can't think of any right now.
WW: What's your day job?
S.A:Full-time artist and designer (graphic, web design, jewelry design, product design). Currently, I am designing a restaurant together with my husband, Randy Rushton.
WW: A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
S.A.: I would start huge art events where several cities internationally team up, exchange artists and turn the outdoors and the whole cityscape and surrounding areas into a platform as an opportunity for everybody to engage with art. I would bring scientists, technicians, doctors and artists together for brainstorming. I would love to see whole communities inspired by creativity initiated by art in all sorts of areas and professions.
WW:What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
S.A.: More funding, grants, scholarship for artists. More exposure for local artists in museums and public places. Positioning of art at unusual locations to expose and integrate people outside the art world -- e.g., art on billboards, bus stations, shopping centers, restrooms, etc. Extra focus on artistic and creative programs in all schools as a standard educational requirement.
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Sabin Aell recently won first place in painting in the Artslant.com contemporary art network's national 2011 Showcase. Her artwork is currently on view in Celebrating Month of Photography Denver at Walker Fine Art, through March 19. Hinterland's Month of Photoography offering, Down the Rabbit Hole, a juried group show featuring "cutting-edge photography or photography-based artwork," opens March 25 with a reception from 6 to 11 p.m. Both shows are MOP must-sees!
Throughout the year, we'll be turning the spotlight on 100 superstars in Denver's rich artistic community. Watch for the next installment on Show and Tell -- and go to the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.
Who rocks YOUR world locally? Do you have a suggestion for a Colorado Creative? Leave it in the comments section below.