First Friday in Denver: 5 Pillars of Hip Hop, Chicano Art and More | Westword

First Friday: Chicano Art, Barcelona Modern and the 5 Pillars of Hip Hop

The first weekend in September will be a real arty party.
Carlos Frésquez, "The Obsidian Ranfla Series #3" (detail), 1999.
Carlos Frésquez, "The Obsidian Ranfla Series #3" (detail), 1999. Carlos Frésquez, courtesy of CSFAC
Share this:
First Friday in September is the perfect way to slide into Labor Day weekend. Co-op shows, juried exhibits, a Black art festival, a craft bonanza in Manitou, an art class sampler, a skate-deck tribute to hip-hop and Marsha Mack's idea of heaven are just some of the ways you can enjoy an arty holiday, engaging with visual art.

And First Friday gets off to an early start, with several openings and receptions tonight. Ready, set, go:
Zsudayka Nzinga, “Basquiat Explodes,” mixed media on canvas.
Zsudayka Nzinga
The Beauty of Blackness Fine Art Show
Foothills Mall, 215 Foothills Parkway, Fort Collins
Thursday, August 31 through September 2: Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, September 3, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Opening Reception: Friday, September 1, 6 to 9 p.m. Artist Saturday Fashion Show: Saturday, September 2, noon
Streaming: Friday through Sunday, September 1-3, 3 to 6 p.m. daily
The Beauty of Blackness returns to the Foothills Mall in Fort Collins and runs throughout the Labor Day weekend with original works by Black and African American artists, both in person and online (streaming September 1 through September 3, 3 to 6 p.m. daily on Facebook or Instagram). Viewing opens on Thursday, or wait until the Friday -night reception; the TBOBFAS Fashion Show follows on Saturday afternoon and includes a two-day boutique. The event is free; learn more here.

Bruce Price, Turbulences
Gallery Galore, Tejon Art Studios, 2890 South Tejon Street
Thursday, August 31, through September 16
Opening: August 31, 4 to 7 p.m.
Quietly and endlessly creative with the simplest of materials, Denver artist Bruce Price salvages and collages gay checked-gingham fabric samples of cut-up clothing with paint on paper, or folds and twists them into perfect little objets d'art. For gardeners, Price fashions in-demand hypertufa planters with panache and a sharp focus on imperfect edges. He also creates printed accessories with sharp designs, including backpacks and laptop cases. He’s practical, yet his brain spins in outer space, gathering ideas as fast as he can make them real (incidentally, that's something he has called, at times, the fancyreal). Enter Gallery Galore, a middleman-free exchange where people can buy whatever Price makes. Join him for Turbulences, a show of “new and historic” works “curated from [his] archives by invited guests,” at the Tejon Art Studios. You’ll find amazing work and meet new people.

2023 Summer Sampler
Art Students League of Denver, 200 Grant Street
Thursday, August 31, through Sunday, September 3
The Art Students League of Denver has been doing its thing now for almost forty years: offering affordable art classes and use of the appropriate apparati to people of all ages and skill levels. If that stirs your inner artist, ASLD is hosting Summer Sampler classes over the holiday weekend, where wannabes can test the waters for a day, learning about cartooning, calligraphy or jewelry-making — and much more. Fees for sample classes vary, and they are filling up fast; learn more here and register here.
click to enlarge
Annette Coleman and Melody Epperson share walls at D'art Gallery East.
Annette Coleman and Melody Epperson
Spot On #4 Juried Exhibition
Reflections and Refractions: An Installation and Painting Collaboration with Annette Coleman and Melody Epperson in Gallery East
D’art Gallery, 900 Santa Fe Drive
Thursday, August 31, through September 24
Opening Reception: Thursday, August 31, 5 to 8 p.m.
D’art premieres its annual Spot On juried show, a challenge to artists both local and national to submit what they consider to be their best works. The exhibition, juried by Molly Bird Casey of NINE dot ARTS, contains work by 44 hopeful artists; find out who won the Best in Show awards at the reception. In the East Gallery, glass mosaic sculptor Annette Coleman and abstract painter Melody Epperson tag-team for Reflections and Refractions, a collaborative installation.
Tara Kelley Cruz, "Knuckleball."
Tara Kelley Cruz
Tara Kelley-Cruz, Deconstructed
Artists on Santa Fe, 747 Santa Fe Drive
Through October 1
Artist Reception: Friday, September 15, 5 to 8 p.m.
Painter Tara Kelley-Cruz has a good feel for composition without thinking about it too hard — instead, she’s busy layering, scraping, sanding and adding image transfers, drawings and ephemera to the mix in a frenzy of pure process. The results are handsome and contemporary, building on influences from the second half of the last century.

Mark Freeman, Barcelona
Urban Mud, 530 Santa Fe Drive
Friday, September 1, 5 to 8 p.m.

Urban Mud member Mark Freeman celebrates the eclectic spirit of Barcelona — the fierce Catalan city known for its rich aggregate of arts and architecture, museums, the curvy crafted buildings of Antoni Gaudí, modernist sensibilities and Mediterranean cuisine —in Barcelona, an exhibition of more than forty colorful ceramic sculptures composed in the modern mold. Slap a barretina on your head if you really want to honor the occasion.
click to enlarge
Jamie Gray, “Moon Cradle,” 2023, beeswax and pigment on reclaimed birch.
Jamie Gray
Jamie Gray: High Desert Homecoming, Friday, September 1, through October 1
Jon Sargent: Nude Masculine States in the Living Room
Bell Projects, 2822 East 17th Avenue, Friday, September 1, through October 29
Opening Reception: Friday, September 1, 6 to 10 p.m.
Jamie Gray grew up in Buena Vista, close to nature in the shadow of the Collegiate Peaks. But she left for other places and only recently returned to Colorado, settling in Denver after big successes in the international art world for her mixed-media work. Now she’s turning out smoothly polished and carved wood-and-encaustic flat forms, alone and in groupings, which is what will be on view for her debut at Bell Projects this weekend. In the Living Room, photographer Jon Sargent follows in the footsteps of Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston and Anne Brigman, but chooses male models to mold their nude bodies to the natural forms of rocks and trees.
click to enlarge
Robert Bell's Beastie Boys skate deck for Can I Kick It? at Alto Gallery.
Robert Bell
Can I Kick It?
Alto Gallery, ArtPark RiNo, 1900 35th Street, Suite B
Friday, September 1, through September 30
Opening Reception: Friday, September 1, 6 to 10 p.m.; RSVP here
Hip-hop-directed curator Lorenzo Talcott brings a group skate deck show, Can I Kick It?, that pays homage to the Five Pillars of Hip Hop: MCs, DJs, graffiti art, breakdancing and, perhaps most important, knowledge. It wouldn’t be completely off-mark to add skateboarding, but that won’t be necessary since blank decks already provide a surface for every artwork. To drive things home, the evening will include live performances by the Brown Bombers and the Cosmosmiths, the 303 Skateboards Pro Team and more.
click to enlarge
Tattoo artists Dominic Cutillette and Lydia Schram pull out some fine-art pieces at Dateline Gallery.
Dominic Cutillette and Lydia Schram
Lydia Schram and Dominic Cutilletta, Manifest World
Dateline Gallery, 3004 Larimer Street
Opening Friday, September 1, 5 to 11 p.m.
Artists Lydia Schram and Dominic Cutilletta share the stage for Manifest World, a duet show that signals the rebirth of Dateline in what appears to be a new age for the underground gallery. Curated by artist George Bangs, the exhibition pairs Schram’s windswept dotted drawings, reminiscent of her other art — poke tattoos — with Cutilletta’s sculpture crafted with gnarly, criss-crossing sticks of metal.

Remembrance, Community and Celebration, a Día de los Muertos Exhibition
Brighton Armory, 300 Strong Street, Brighton
Friday, September 1, through November 1
Artist Reception and Celebration: Saturday, September 16, 1 to 5 p.m.
The Armory in Brighton gets an early start on observing Día de los Muertos with Remembrance, Community and Celebration, an annual collaboration with Denver’s CHAC Gallery artists. While it opens September 1, the show’s culmination isn’t until September 16, when a big, family-friendly afternoon event with altars and sugar calaveras honoring the dead, pan de muerto, face-painting and vendors will celebrate the ancestors with loving memories.

Los Trabajadores: The Life of the Worker
Art Contained Del Sol Collective, 3058 West 55th Avenue
Friday, September 1, 5 to 9 p.m.
The Art Contained Del Sol Collective, a small group of local Chicano artists who present art shows in a gallery space made up of attached shipping containers, will host Los Trabajadores: The Life of the Worker, an exhibition acknowledging the role and importance of laborers in Latinx culture.
Kalliopi Monoyios, “Untitled Geode I,” 2022, single-use plastic, polyester thread.
Kalliopi Monoyios
Kalliopi Monoyios, Made With Art Parts wall
Art Parts Creative Reuse Center, 3080 Valmont Road, Boulder
Friday, September 1, through October 31
Artist Kalliopi Monoyios is dedicated to educating viewers about the environmental evils of plastics through her woven-plastic installations, while offering the scientific background of how plastics endanger our planet that scientist Monoyios knows to be true. Monoyios has been spinning plastic refuse into essential consciousness-raising warnings for the past few years, and the wall she’s finishing up at Art Parts in Boulder is just another step in her campaign. Echoing larger exhibitions in the past, Monoyios is sewing together quilted plastic elements she calls “geodes” for a display wall to show the multiplying dangers of plastic waste.
click to enlarge
Sylvia Montero, “They Came on Ships” (detail).
Image courtesy of Sylvia Montero
Mi Gente: Manifestations of Community in the Southwest
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs
Friday, September 1, through February 3
First Friday Art Party: Friday, September 1, 5 to 8 p.m.

Low Rider Show, Saturday, September 2, noon to 4 p.m., free, RSVP here
Performance by Su Teatro/Carlos Frésquez Panel Discussion: Saturday, September 9, 4 to 6 p.m., free, RSVP here
Mi Gente, a visual love letter to community among the Chicanx/Latinx population in Colorado and New Mexico, will have top billing this fall and winter at CSFAC, showing how history and colonialization created tight relationships in the border regions. It opens with a whirlwind of activity, including a First Friday Art Party with Mariachi Lobos and free admission, followed on Saturday by a celebration not unlike the one the Denver Art Museum threw for Desert Rider: Dreaming in Motion — a lowrider show with live music and dance, and art activities for kids. A week later, Denver’s Su Teatro will drive down to the Springs for a free performance, and quintessential Chicano artist Carlos Frésquez will participate in a panel discussion. Both are free.
click to enlarge
Jahna Rae Church poses with her paintings.
Photo: Cam Margera
Jahna Rae, Aura
Balefire Goods, 7513 Grandview Avenue, Arvada
Friday, September 1, through September 27
Opening Reception: Friday, September 1, 5 to 7 p.m.

Balefire welcomes Jahna Rae, a Denverite by way of New York who uses traditional and street-art materials to drench beautiful, stylized portraits of women from minority cultures in lush colors. See her work at the Olde Town Arvada jewelry shop through September.

First Friday Pop-Up Art Gallery
Source Hotel and Market Hall, Hall, #2, 3330 Brighton Boulevard
Friday, September 1, 6 to 9 p.m.
Pop-ups at the Source could never be confused with the slapdash variety of market. (We love those, too, but for different reasons.) This one is an artist showcase for three very different artists — Emily Roan, installationist and painter of wild abstracts; Alex Odnoralov, who paints traditional landscapes; and collagist/muralist Speaks (aka Devin Urioste) — for an interesting lineup.

Commonwheel Artists 49th Annual Labor Day Weekend Art Festival
Memorial Park, 502 Manitou Avenue, Manitou Springs
Saturday, September 2, through Monday, September 4, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

Tradition runs deep among colleagues at the Commonwheel Artists Co-Op, which celebrates its 49th Labor Day Weekend Art Festival in Memorial Park as a cornerstone of the Manitou Springs arts community. Potters, jewelers, painters, sculptors, photographers, glass artists and other artist/makers offer easy shopping at the fest, which also includes live music and food and drink vendors both days. The festival is free; find a complete artist list here.
click to enlarge
An element of Marsha Mack's Happy Place installation.
Marsha Mack
Marsha Mack: Happy Place
Understudy, 890 C 14th Street
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 2, 6 to 9 p.m.
Marsha Mack grew up visiting the Asian Market in San Rafael, California, with her mother, delighting in the imported sweets and ridiculously cute ceramic merchandise. In adulthood, Mack’s childhood experience constitutes a nostalgic, peaceful paradise and the basis for her installation Happy Place, which opens Saturday at the Understudy artist incubator as an indescribable phantasmagoria of sweetness. Trust me.
Marina Dieul, “Chaton 45,” 2023, oil on panel.
Marina Dieul, Abend Gallery
Animalia V
Abend Gallery (Golden Triangle), 1261 Delaware Street
Saturday, September 2, through September 16

Joseph Idowu: Before the Wooden Wall
Abend Gallery (Cherry Creek), 303 Detroit Street
Saturday, September 2, through October 7
Both Abend Gallery outposts host new shows this weekend, beginning with the popular annual exhibition Animalia V, which needs no introduction, at the Golden Triangle space. It’s all about the animal world, in both natural and unnatural poses, while in the Cherry Creek gallery, Nigerian artist Joseph Idowu’s solo, Before the Wooden Wall, recalls scenes from his early life in a small village.
click to enlarge
Anahit Cass, "Salpi and Nancy in Flight."
Anahit Cass
Center Forward 2023
Center for Fine Art Photography, online exhibition
Through May 31
Virtual Reception and Artist Talks: TBD (check website)

Hamidah Glasgow, director and curator of the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, and art curator, mentor and writer Charles Guice juried the exhibition Center Forward 2023, an online show that is now available for viewing. No theme was requested in the call for entries, but a requirement of excellence was required in three key criteria: creativity, content and mastery. A beautiful show that leans from documentary photography to shadowy double exposures and portraits to stunning landscapes, it’s a great subject for armchair viewing.
click to enlarge
A view of Chris Bagley's installation Space Command at the Denver Art Museum.
Chris Bagley, courtesy Denver Art Museum
Meet the Artist: Chris Bagley, Space Command
Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway
Tuesday, September 5, 6 to 8 p.m.
Included in DAM admission fee, free to $19
Chris Bagley uses every last thing multimedia has to offer in order to create installations of moving pictures, light effects, optical illusions, sculptured sound, robotic movements and whatever else comes to mind as he works. That’s evident in his current immersive install, Space Command, in the level 2 Precourt Family Discovery Hall at the Denver Art Museum’s Hamilton Building. If space is your place, meet Bagley and sound artist Ben Coleman for a hang in the space-age universe.

Interested in having your event appear in this calendar? Send the details to [email protected].
Can you help us continue to share our stories? Since the beginning, Westword has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver — and we'd like to keep it that way. Our members allow us to continue offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food, and culture with no paywalls.