Artist Chat closes out two installations at Ice Cube this weekend

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The great thing about liking artists who aren't dead is the opportunity to meet them in person and ask, "What does it all mean?" Ice Cube Gallery is giving you that chance starting today, for the closing weekend of Absence, by Jane McMahan, and Wading In, by Regina V. Benson -- two conceptual installations exploring the relationship between nature and space (read Michael Paglia's review of the show here). At 6 p.m. Saturday, the artists will host an Artist Chat -- but they'll be on hand for informal conversations over the next three days.

"When the gallery is open, either Regina or I will be there," McMahan explains. "You can come anytime, and an artist will be there to talk to you. That's one nice aspect of the set-up Ice Cube has, as a co-op gallery, for the artist. You're at the gallery more so you really get a chance to talk to the people who come in. It's good for both the artist and the viewer."

Aside from discussing the process, meanings and textures of the installations, she says, the artists will also be able to discuss the deeper implications of both works, specifically the delicate ecological balance of the systems represented: a coral reef, in Benson's piece, and a butterfly menagerie in McMahan's piece.

"It's interesting to hear the questions that are asked, particularly with installations," says McMahan. "I've met a lot of interesting people who want to talk about environmental issues and I'm passionate about the issues, so it's a meeting of the minds, in a way."

Saturday's more formal talk will focus not just on the conceptual aims of the two installations, but also on the finer points of making the pieces. Benson says she plans to share the step-by-step process of creating her underwater realm -- including taking the fabric panels to the seashore to let the tide wash up on the dye. "The artist talk is an opportunity to experience what an artist envisions, and then how they are able to implement their vision," says Benson. "But also, how you as a viewer may or may not see yourself in that process."

This is McMahan's first show at Ice Cube and Benson's third (she's been with the gallery since it opened). Both signed up for the same show date, but the fact that they created nature-themed installations that explore the micro-scale of the ecosystem was serendipitous -- and made for a very successful show.

"It's been wonderful and it's getting a lot of interest," McMahan concludes. "I'm having a lot of fun watching people walk through the installations and hearing them share their experiences of previous dive experiences or swimming among jellyfish, or even the fear of them."

Ice Cube is located at 3320 Walnut Street in RiNo. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. today, noon to 9 p.m. Friday, and noon through the Artist Chat, which starts at 6 p.m., on Saturday. Find more information here.

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