Denver's art market is too "commercialized" says local artist moving to New York

James Lorca Garcia Velazquez makes his own brushes, varnishes and pigments. He cuts all the glass for his pieces and hand-cuts the wood for his frames -- frames he makes himself using a technique from the 18th century. Because he spends so much time on his process, and invests so much money, he doesn't want to sell prints of his work. Rather, he wants to sell the actual work.

But Velazquez says Denver's art market isn't interested in what he's is offering. In fact, people here aren't interested in art at all, he believes. So he's moving to New York.

Before his exodus, Velazquez talked with the Westword about the art industry, his current exhibit at ism Gallery and the upcoming endeavor to find his perfect market.

Westword: How did you get hooked up with ism Gallery?

James Lorca Garcia Velazquez: Three or four months ago, Craig, the owner, stopped by my studio and he loved all my work, so he arranged for a showing shortly after. The reception was well-received. But, the pieces were smaller works, and smaller pieces are much more complicated to hang because they are space-orientated. People want big pieces to put over their couches -- so, they didn't sell well. If you do buy a series of smaller works, then it makes it much more complicated to set up.

Where do the printed figures come from, in your pieces? Like in 'Figure in preparation?'

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The figures that emerge in my work are a cause of some form, be it meta, or even contra-rational, or completely accidental. I do not plan any of the work -- the figures emerge as a consequence of my dealing with the medium. I am always amazed what is able to come out of a drawing, painting, or collage without the aid of a preconceived idea. Without a direct impulse to make the work from an immediate impulse, I do not believe you are actually making anything, you are making a copy of a copy.

Why is this exhibit, at ism Gallery, going to be your last public exhibit in Denver?

I love Craig's gallery, and what he does there, but my experience in the past three years with the commercialization of art in the Denver area -- like in the Santa Fe area and elsewhere -- kind of ruined the experience of showing my work. When people find out how much my pieces are, they aren't interested. If I were to make prints of those works, then the gallery would make money and I would make money, but I'm not interested in that -- I want to sell my art. It's the reason I work a full-time job for income, because if I don't want to commercialize my art, then I have to do that. That's part of the reason I'm not interested anymore; I've just been exposed to the bad side of art.

What would you say to those who argue that prints make art more accessible to those who can't afford to purchase pieces?

I would say that it does make art of a particular artist more accessible, but the artist has to put an incredibly limited number of his or her prints out, as does Odd Nerdrum, or the original and all other work devalues incredibly, that is if you are interested in the art market, and not in the process of making art in of itself.

Why New York? I know you said because it's a new market, but it seems as though New York would be more commercialized than Denver.

New York is more commercialized, but its not as bad as some cities like Vienna, and there is a bigger demand for art and a more accessible approach in the art communities. New York is a grand city for art, as its museums house some of the most important pieces of many ages. I will ultimately face the same problem in New York as I am in Denver, which will be the commercialization of my work to make the gallery money.

Will you miss Denver?

I have been showing my work in the city of Denver for over ten years. Because of my experience, I find it somewhat strange that people may actually care about art. If anything, people seem to have abandoned the search for meaning. We have an abundance of technology that will "answer" and "solve" all of our problems, as many have been led to believe. I will not miss showing my work in this city, and I am quite surprised that people still go to galleries, or even buy art at all.

For more of Velazquez's work, visit his Flickr page.

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