Art Review


There's a funky new art spot in town that has the ridiculous name of Rhinoceropolis (3553 Brighton Boulevard, no phone). The venue recently opened in the old Wheelbarrow space, another funky art spot with a ridiculous name that closed some time ago. Like its predecessor, Rhinoceropolis is held together with little more than spit, string and a bunch of wide-eyed young artists.

Right now, there's also an interesting solo there called The Next Big Thing, which is dedicated to the work of emerging conceptual artist Justin Simoni. The show includes prints and photographic documents of performances and films that illuminate Simoni's exploration of fame, which he sees as illusionary because it exists only in the imaginations of observers just like art.

Simoni did a number of things to flesh out his ideas, such as wearing a suit made from fliers with self-portraits and the motto "The Next Big Thing" on them. He wore this outfit around to many art openings and took photos of himself, which resulted in photo-based images done on multi-colored papers. These works reveal Simoni's sense of humor, because in them, he's wearing a quizzical expression and his hair is flying off in all directions. He also walked from south Broadway into downtown wearing his paper suit and carrying a huge painting he did of a woman's face with the word "hot" superimposed over it. Another time, he hit the openings dressed as Andy Warhol.

For the Rhinoceropolis show, Simoni covered the walls of the gallery with the self-portrait fliers. On top of them, he placed prints of the pictures of him wearing the flier suit as he made his way through the art world. There are also examples of correspondence both to and from Simoni. These stunts did not garner Simoni any fame, but surely he'll come up with something that will.

Rhinoceropolis is only open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and because there's no phone, there's no making an appointment, either. Simoni's The Next Big Thing closes on July 31.

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Michael Paglia is an art historian and writer whose columns have appeared in Westword since 1995; his essays on the visual arts have also been published in national periodicals including Art News, Architecture, Art Ltd., Modernism, Art & Auction and Sculpture Magazine. He taught art history at the University of Colorado Denver.
Contact: Michael Paglia