This is one in a series of posts in honor of Denver Arts Week that salute some of our favorite people and places on the arts scene.
If you've been by Lumonics Light & Sound Gallery, 800 East 73rd Avenue, then you already know it's unlike any other gallery in the city. Artist Dorothy Tanner sculpts amazing, impossible-to-describe works featuring light as a main component; the gallery also plays host to events that include music, weekly yoga classes, meditation, Chinese Qigong, and workshops on expanding your consciousness (like the Tao of Bass event coming up on Saturday, November 19, and featuring DJ sets, aura healing and more). We caught up with Tanner to talk about where she gets her inspiration, good vibrations and more.
Westword: When and how did you get started using light as a component of your artwork?
Dorothy Tanner: About 25 years ago -- something like that. Adding light is like finding a whole other mode of expression that does a totally separate thing with whatever work that you're doing. Very much like, how do you look when the light is kind and how do you look when the light is bleak? I'm very mindful of it as an environmental attribute, and I like my work to have people feel good -- and look good, by the way. You really need to come to the space that we've created here and see how everybody looks, and those create a very nice vibration. People respond to it without being directly aware that that's what is influencing their view of things. The result is the vibe that is created here because of it is really very comfortable and very kind, and people respond well to it. And, of course, I'm totally pleased when that happens, and it happens all the time.
How do you find the inspiration for your works?
In a sense, I'm very responsive to my environment. I'm responsive to things that I see. And I might have a found object around the studio which I've somehow want to take off on, and things go from there. Now and again, I decide I want to do a particular type of thing, but I'm happiest being directly or immediately responsive to what's in front of me, for the moment, so to say.
How, exactly, do you create your work?
Well, I'm very fortunate. I have a fellow who I've been working with for years, and he's an excellent craftsman. So if I sketch an idea, or if I find a piece that I want to expand upon, I turn it over to him, tell him what I would like done, and we work on it together. Something like that. There's no set way that I have, it moves around, fortunately. It gets boring, otherwise.
Is there anything you'd like to say about some of your works currently on display -- like your current work at the Museum of Outdoor Arts?
In one sense, I think what happens is, once the work is out of the studio and I don't see it, it's like it almost doesn't exist for me, but I like the way the work looks at the museum. Getting it out of the studio and getting it into another type of space is always a shot. I get a fresh view of what I'm doing and who I am.
Can you speak a little more about the type of vibration you're trying to reach with your work?
Well, of course, I have been looking to expand my consciousness and the consciousness of people who view it. And so it has a ... I suppose you could say a spiritual quality that I think is intrinsic to what I'm about. And I don't know that I can say any more about that.
Are there any pieces you've done that you're especially proud of?
My interest, really, is in the last piece that I've done or that I'm doing. So I'm involved working on a piece, and I don't have very much interest in anything else. It's like it takes me over, or I take it over, and that's what I care about. The rest of it, well, that's something that was. All well and good. Sometimes I like it a lot, sometimes I'm very critical of it. It depends on how I feel. That's a part of how you respond to art anyway, where you are and how receptive you are to what's being promoted, so to say.
Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know about you and your artwork?
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I want to get people high, and I think that does happen, so to that degree, I'm proud of what I do. And I'm currently having a sale, which is the first time I've done it, a sale of small sculptures and wall pieces. It's running now through, probably, the holiday season. And after that, we go back to normal, whatever that is.