In 2013, we've gone to Paris at the Denver Art Museum and invited the rest of the world in for the city's second Biennial of the Americas, visited galleries in garages and warehouses, and found unexpected art wheat-pasted on brick walls, projected from LED screens and gracing billboards. To be fair, this list could go a lot longer, but for the sake of brevity, here are some of our favorite art flashbacks, in chronological order. Feel free to chime in with yours.
See also: Twelve Denver arts flashbacks from 2012
TANK Studios, January 2013
Nine artists, some of them graduating RedLine residents, joined together early in 2013 to realize a dream by building out TANK, a revolutionary new studio space in Overland. The flowing circular blueprint worked so well that they've since added a second buildout of interconnected, doorless studios, included an area reserved for residents selected through Adam Gildar's nonprofit Art-Plant. Imagined in the spirit of other precedent-setting spaces like RedLine and Ironton (which also added a new building this year), but with an added layer of grit, TANK proves that Denver's art community is ready for its close-up.
Ladies Fancywork Society MCA-Denver: Fancygasm, January 20-April 7 Denver Art Museum: August 26-September 27
The yarn artists of the Ladies Fancywork Society proved this year that their work, though rooted in the street, transcends the underground designation. The LFS created not one, but two, major yarn installations at a pair of Denver's most prestigious art museums: MCA Denver and the Denver Art Museum. MCA kicked off 2013 with the LFS curtain installation Fancygasm adorning its chilly entryway in wintry shades of white and blue; later, in conjunction with its textile blockbuster exhibit Spun, the ladies draped a massive knitted floral carpet off the roof of the DAM, which was later disassembled by museum patrons who were invited to take home a piece of the work. A sneaky art idea has become a welcome part of the landscape.
Art of the State, Arvada Center of the Art sand Humanities, January 24-March 31
Art of the State was state of the art: Arvada Center gallery director Collin Parson invited the Clyfford Still Museum's Dean Sobel to help jury this massive love letter to Colorado artists, and the many-layered Art of the State did not disappoint. In fact, it was staggering in scope. Featuring nearly 200 works in every medium imaginable by 160 artists, it sprawled through the center in a pastiche of paintings, photography, sculpture, clay and fiber that addressed many local movements with love, if not seamlessly. Colorado's got talent!
Continue reading for more 2013 Arts Flashbacks. Control Group Productions, Salon Romantik, Opus 2, January 25-February 2
The motion-based performances dreamed up by Patrick Mueller and Control Group Productions cross so many disciplinary lines that it's hard to know what to call them, and perhaps it's ridiculous to try and pin it down. For this second leg in the troupe's journey called Salon Romantik, they threw a party where the audience could wander through as participants. Later in September, the third portion of Salon Romantik even took to buses for a tour of staged performances at locations along the route. We're not sure where they'll go next, if not to the moon. But wherever they end up, Mueller and Control Group are sure to being new levels of sophistication to the Mile High City.
Museum of Broken Relationships, BMoCA, February 14-May 26
Bittersweet sentimentality ruled BMoCA last spring when past lovers Dražen Grubišić and Olinka Vištica, an artist and a film-producer from Zagreb, brought their Museum of Broken Relationships to Boulder, along with a local call for lost-love relics -- little gifts shared between couples that are no longer meaningful after the relationship ends -- to be displayed at BMoCA. Not only did it stir wistful smiles and inspire a kind of romantic angst, but Museum also brought a taste of Europe to Colorado for a subtle romp.
Month of Photography, March 2013
Mark Sink's big beautiful mess of a biennial photography blowout once again pleased endlessly with its many explorations of camera work, technique and in-the-moment imagery at galleries and museums -- and even random brick walls -- all over town. International in scope and growing ever larger, MoP left no photography subject unturned, by featuring dozens of shows both big and small -- and diverse, as well, from the Sink-curated The Reality of Fiction at RedLine, which revealed a deep vein of work based on visual trickery and staged narratives, to The Denver Salon: Then and Now, a historical retrospective of Denver's one-time photographers' salon at the Byers-Evans House Museum Gallery. Best news yet? 2014 will usher in Mo'Print -- a Month of Printmaking biennial that will alternate years with MoP.
Continue reading for more 2013 Arts Flashbacks. Bruce Price: Works on Paper, 2007-2012, May 19-November 3
Beloved by his fellow artists and students, though recently set free from his teaching job at the Rocky Mountain School of Art + Design, Bruce Price currently makes work with wit and rough, rippled edges, all collaged around odd corners with cloth and painted surfaces. They are fascinating and ordered in a disorderly way that belies his formal training with mentor Clark Richert. But it's not in any way overpowered by Richert's influence -- rather, it takes off whimsically, surely and solidly on its own path, in wavy swatches of pattern and color. Price's little corner of the DAM's fiber-art exhibit melange, Spun, not only gave the artist his due, but pinned a gold star on Colorado artists in general. Thanks, DAM.
Plus Gallery's Ivar Zeile and digital artist Ryan Pattie brought a different kind of spectacle and a wave of the future to the streets of downtown Denver this summer, with help from the Denver Theatre District, when they presented this monthly series of curated motion-based artwork on the DTD's jumbo second-story LED billboard at 14th and Champa streets. The five programs changed focus each month by featuring works, sometimes on a theme, from a local and/or international pool of artists, ending with a presentation of works commissioned from seven artists by the DTD for tis permanent collection. A gallery showcase by the artists coincided at Plus, and all seven received stipends which smoothed the road for their contributions.
Nick Cave: Sojourn, June 9-September 22
Denver caught Nick Cave fever long before the multidisciplinary artist, dancer, choreographer and creator of the Soundsuit -- a wild Gestalt of costume and art installation that can be worn in performance, but is also equally at home on display in a museum -- ever hit town. And the DAM took full advantage of that deserved Cave fever by teasing us with public auditions for potential dancers to perform in the Soundsuits and whispers of events to come in conjunction with the well-anticipated exhibit -- Nick Cave: Sojourn. It would be hard to say that the hoopla wasn't warranted: Cave's magnificent and painstakingly crafted Soundsuits and installations blended art and craft in with a power that put joy and and a smile on any viewer's face, regardless of age and/or level of refinement.
Continue reading for more 2013 Arts Flashbacks. Warhol's soup can at CSU, June 10
To call it Colorado's fifteen minutes of fame is probably the cliche of a cliche, but in certain circles, pop-art icon Andy Warhol's 1981 Colorado stopover for an exhibit of his work at Colorado State University was just that, at least in the art world, where his ethereal presence touched more than a few local lives. He did leave behind a souvenir: a large-scale Campbell's soup can sculpture signed by the artist, that remained in the CSU collection long after it fell into disrepair. But early last summer, L.A. sculptor/fabricator Mark Rossi was commissioned to restore the can to its former shiny newness. Sometimes, you get a second fifteen minutes: The famous tin can is now on display on the CSU University Center for the Arts lawn...until it rusts again.
Create Denver's Come Play in the Park, June 21
To some disappointment, Create Denver threw in the towel on Create Denver Week this year, though to its credit, the arts agency did retain its Create Denver Expo and sponsored a number of less-connected events throughout the year, from an art exhibit at the McNichols Building to the inaugural Denver Music Summit in September. But the event Come Play in the Park came the closest to echoing the CDW of old, by hosting a day of leisurely picnicking and artifying in Civic Center Park that ended with a big nighttime video-mapping finale projected on the side of McNichols. People are what make a cultural scene vibrant; seems like a good idea to invite them to be part of it.
Biennial of the Americas: First Draft, July 16-September 2
This year's short-and-sweet Biennial of the Americas was more perhaps blip than big idea, but it had its moments, and First Draft, the Biennial's nod to local artists was one of them. Curated by Cortney Lane Stell of the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design's Philip J. Steele Gallery, First Draft was lively and well-arranged, and best of all, a sign that Colorado has artists strong enough to hold up on a national, or even international, scale. Good work, Colorado.
Continue reading for more 2013 Arts Flashbacks. Biennial of the Americas: Denver Night, July 19
All on its own, Denver Night might have single-handedly rescued the Biennial on a grand scale: Masterminded by MCA's Adam Lerner and sound artist Chris Kallmyer in the spirit of blurring the edges between art and fun, the climactic gathering, which qualified as a "happening" of major dimensions, included an opera for dogs, an interactive light installation by Boulder artist Jen Lewin, Viviane Le Courtois's welcoming Human Grazing Experiment and most notably, a fine finale to Nick Cave's stay in Denver -- HEARD•DAM, which let loose an army of Cave's flowing horse Soundsuits into the park, to the delight of all. It was a world-class evening for a world-class town.
Gildar Gallery: Clark Richert: Symmetry and Dimension, November 15-January 18, 2014
Clark Richert famously started out a co-founder of the innovative Southern-Colorado artist commune Drop City, best remembered for its experimentation with geodesic domes and the theories of brilliant architect Buckminster Fuller. But his mathematical fascination with Fuller's geometry stayed with him, even as he moved on and developed a style of painting that's uniquely his own -- a kind of pattern (or anti-pattern!) painting that subtly confounds the eye and bends the mind. Adam Gildar joined forces with respected gallerist Robin Rule (who has sadly just passed away) to hang this fine and compact retrospective that also pays personal homage to Drop City and the communes that fueled Richert's ongoing oeuvre. Thumbs up to Gildar for putting this exhibit in motion.
Project Speedo Colorado Underpants yarnbomb, December 1
In a time when public-art yarn-bombs and other capers are becoming an everyday occurrence in Denver, merry prankster Kyle Williams's serendipitous action -- placing a Colorado flag-bedecked knit Speedo on one of Jonathan Borofsky's oft-decorated Dancers in the Denver Center Sculpture Park -- almost feels like an afterthought, though it does uphold the notion that Denverites have a sense of humor when it comes to civic pride. And still, to date no one has dared take on DIA's Blucifer demon horse and his glowing red eyes with a prank to match his evil presence. That's a challenge, Denver. 2014 is your palette.
What were your favorite moments and exhibits in 2013? What are you looking forward to in 2014? Share your ideas in the comments section below.
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