Curators facilitate innovation in art, and as such, Jacquelyn Connolly has been a trendsetter in the field locally. Now the director and curator at Emmanuel Gallery on the Auraria campus, Connolly’s left a trail of past good calls at Denver International Airport, where she previously sculpted the bones of public art exhibitions and projects, and as a high-level consultant and curator-for-hire throughout the region. Keep reading to learn more about what fuels Jacquelyn Connolly’s zest for making Denver appreciate and think about the power of art.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Jacqueline Connolly: Bruce Nauman. What an original, and what an interesting time. Still makes relevant and interesting works. I mean, really, what more is there to say? Nauman — enough said. Anyone want to connect me?
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
I was also a history major, so I have to admit current political affairs are quite interesting to me, as I see the cyclical nature, and it seems that, for once, there is some uniqueness to certain situations globally. I’m not religious in any way, but I am interested in the current Pope. It seems that for once, a pope might be willing to go out of his way to speak to people about the universal truth of love and kindness to your fellow wo(man) and how this might be carried out in more ways than the obvious. As for his recent encyclical regarding climate change, how’s that for taking care of one another and of thinking about something greater than yourself? What a platform to be a leader from. Perhaps we will see great things, impactful things, from this man… one can hope.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
Beards — ha, how superficial is that? guess I enjoy watching ‘trends’ come and go. Maybe binder clips? My poor work- study students have listened to my tirade more than once about dishonoring your work with a install/mounting technique that is only used for cheapness and not because it lends itself to the work in any way. On some occasions, these things work, and work well, but on most, I can’t stand it, and I cringe when clipping a simply beautiful print and watching it destroy a section of the work. So distracting. Bring on the naysayers.
What's your day job?
I am the director and curator of the Emmanuel Gallery on the Auraria Campus. I spend my days working directly with students to care for the oldest church structure in Denver and fill it with mind-blowing contemporary art. Next year, we will celebrate forty years of Emmanuel serving the community as a gallery. I look forward to showing off the incubator space that it is.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I’m dubious. Where did it come from? What strings are attached? It’s likely I’d coordinate an ongoing performance work giving the money away — Pass the Buck? Ha!
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Two things. Affordable housing: Let’s learn from other communities in our nation and head off a disastrous artistic/creative exodus while we still can. I’m proud of Denver, and I have no doubt that we’ll continue to price ourselves out of being able to afford living here. Let’s get creative about solutions for this. And more facilitation of critical conversations about art, beyond just the support and kudos for each other — critiques and discourse that help artists deepen their practice.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
I will say I’m pretty stoked for the Biennial this year (see next question), so there’s one. Also, I noticed that Brian Leister was a recent creative — good choice. What a fabulous artist, a kind person and a great thinker. CU Denver is lucky to have him.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
Locally, I have to say I’m really excited and optimistic about the Biennial of the Americas this year. I think Lauren Wright has been an awesome addition to the Biennial team, and I look forward to attending as much of it as I can. Internationally, the Venice Biennale — that’s where I plan to head in the fall. I’m working on some exhibitions for Emmanuel Gallery in 2017 that I’m researching for, and I’m primed to cultivate a great many collaborations (my favorite thing and this is a damn fine city to do this in) and look forward to continuing Emmanuel Gallery’s role/tradition of an exemplary space in Denver. Can you tell I’m travel-oriented? One of my favorite topics, and another reason why I adore working with artists.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2015?
I’m happy to say many artists I’ve admired for the past four or five years have been receiving the recognition they deserve. I think there is a whole new crew bubbling up to the top of recent graduates and transplants waiting in the wings. One recent graduate from CU Denver’s sculpture program really caught my eye: Walter Ware III. He was a blacksmith before he started studying art and as such has a good handling of his materials and is typically thorough in his conceptual components. I look forward to seeing his work bubble up next.
Keep up with what’s happening at Emmanuel Gallery online.