The best artists just want to make art. They don’t want to tailor their work to an audience or be given pointers on how to better turn out work that will translate into dollars and cents. That’s why co-ops and galleries run by fellow artists, for better or worse, consistently mount more adventurous and experimental shows: Free rein is consummate when you’re a creative, trying to build concrete dreams from a tangle of ideas and hard process.
We’ve seen artist-run galleries come and go in Denver, but at a time when such venues seem to be in flux, the collaborative artist duo Hollis + Lana, aka muralists/sculptors/fabricators Conor Hollis and Amorette Lana, are making their stand at Druther, a new gallery space on South Downing Street that will showcase the work of interesting artists as well as the busy couple’s new furniture line. Druther opens to the public with an inaugural show, Prism & Paradox, pulled together by Boulder-based art consultant and curator Leah Brenner Clack, who’s well known in the street-art and graffiti world for matching artists with fresh walls.
Clack says Hollis + Lana approached her a few months ago to help out with programming at Druther. “They always have multiple projects going on,” she explains. “They wanted to open a space in South Denver, where they love and live in the neighborhood.”
The couple envisioned Druther as an environment rather than a gallery, where visitors could picture furniture pieces alongside art. “Visiting artists’ homes is always so interesting,” Clack continues. “There’s a special quality to how artists put their houses together — and that’s the vibe that they're going for at Druther: pairing art and furniture as something to visualize bringing into your own home.”
So the opener, Prism & Paradox, riffs on personal places by offering works by six artists with Colorado ties — Andrew Davis and Project Street Gold, Leon Loucheur, Hyland Mather, Suchitra Mattai and, of course, the duo of Hollis + Lana. “They’re all working within the construct of exploring nature and the human tendency to control it through the visual aspects of architecture and other human-made items,” Clack says. It’s a perfect introduction to what will be a running theme at the gallery: a mash-up of home-making and art appreciation, where Hollis + Lana will respond to artworks on display through the design of their furniture pieces.
“It gives artists a lot of freedom in preparing for a show and allows them to have a voice they can stay true to about what they want to create,” Clack notes. “There are a lot of restrictions in working with traditional galleries, and there’s also a lot more inspiration when artists come together to collaborate on pieces. Hollis + Lana want to create a space here with that kind of openness.”
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Prism & Paradox opens with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 23, at Druther, 2378 South Downing Street, and runs through September 24. For the time being, Clack says, exhibits will cycle for three months; she's already planning the next show. The gallery will be open from 1 to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, or by appointment. Learn more about Druther online.