Buddha-ing Artists

As candles burn brightly along the wall at the Funky Buddha Lounge on a chilly Tuesday evening, the conversations below revolve around Bill Kinsey's creepy, crawly 3-D bug masks hanging in each of the venue's booths. Not exactly your style? Don't worry: Next week's feature will be Sumi ink sketches on paper.

One night a week, Exhibition Tuesdays transforms the trendy Buddha into an art gallery where local artists and art lovers -- many of whom show up on a regular basis -- mingle with members of the cocktail crowd who just happen upon the event.

"I think it's the hippest thing around," says Joseph Triscari, a photographer. "There are youngsters and 'oldies but goodies' like me, but we're all artists, and this is a great place to hang."

Local artist Michelle Barnes began coordinating the shows over a year ago as a way to promote Denver's burgeoning art scene. "We have so many talented people in this city, but the gallery scene is hard to break into," says Barnes. "I like to show emerging young artists to give them a chance. It really is a great promotional tool for them."

Past exhibits have included paintings, photographs, sculptures and illustrations. Prices for the works vary depending on the artist but generally fall somewhere between $150 and $2,000 per item. "It's unique, because you get a lot of people looking at the artwork who don't normally peruse galleries," says artist Eric Trujillo. "Plus, the art changes with such frequency" -- shows stay up for just one week -- "you can get a taste of a lot of different styles." Trujillo's pop-art illustrations will be on display the week of November 19.

Barnes says that most artists sell at least one or two pieces per show. "The artists get exposed to a younger audience, a broader audience," she says, adding that free champagne is served from 7 to 8 p.m. "It's a very social thing. It's a bar/gallery mix, so we can have more fun."

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Julie Dunn
Contact: Julie Dunn