The First Friday weekend of April 2018 is daunting, it’s true. Seems like every gallery in town on both ends of the art spectrum is having an opening or a party or a lecture. A couple of great shows — Imagine: Recent Paintings by Xi Zhang at ATC Den and Peter Yumi’s Disappearing Room at Alto Gallery — are already written up in Westword’s 21 Best Events in Denver post for April 3 through 9. Beyond those, just so you won’t have to pull your hair out setting an agenda, we've compiled ten more ways to celebrate the arts in Denver this weekend, in chronological order.
Teaching/Artist — Think 360 Arts
Understudy, 890 C 14th Street
Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays through April 14; times vary
The Denver Theatre District’s tiny artist incubator Understudy is starting the month of April with a ten-day nod to local teaching artists who are placed in school and community programs by the nonprofit Think 360 Arts. A divergent selection of artists working with the organization that includes clay artist Marie EvB Gibbons, inflatable-installationist Nicole Banowetz, painter/printmaker Tony Ortega and the tech-centric team from Denver Arts + Technology Advancement (DATA) will be showing off their own work during limited public hours through April 14, with Saturdays reserved for walk-in workshops from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with printmaker Jennifer Ghormley (April 7) and poet Molina Speaks (April 14). See the full schedule online at Think 360 Arts.
Downtown Aurora Visual Arts, 1419 Florence Street, Aurora
April 5 through June 8
Opening reception: Thursday, April 5, 7:30 p.m.
DAVA gets under your skin for Inside Us, an exhibit by youth artists alongside grownup guests Marie Conigliaro and Eileen Roscina Richardson that highlights the importance of good lifestyle choices and nutrition in maintaining healthy innards and positive thinking. Both mentoring artists make work relevant to the theme, and students follow suit in a variety of arts-based installations.
Artist Lecture: Oliver Herring
Emmanuel Gallery, Tenth and Lawrence streets, Auraria campus
Thursday, April 5, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Brooklyn-based artist Oliver Herring brings new dimensions — and a lot of color — to the imprecise field of performance art, patched together by the use of video, woven Mylar sculptures, set design, duct tape, random interactions, collaborative trust and more than a little fearlessness. You could say he’s a leader in a little-understood discipline that’s making a welcome comeback, but Herring’s in town to help local students and artists make sense of it all as a lecturing guest at the Emmanuel Gallery on the Auraria campus.
Thank You Denver
Zip 37 Gallery, 3644 Navajo Street
April 6 through 22
Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 6 to 10 p.m.
Take a moment to think of members of Denver's artist community, and what First Friday means for them, and then zoom your lens in on the plight of the Denver co-op Zip 37, which used to share the tiny Navajo Street Art District with galleries like Pirate, Edge and Next. Then the others made the exodus to Lakewood, driven out by rising rents, leaving Zip all by its lonesome as an operating gallery.
But the artists of Zip 37 are fighting back, by throwing a Thank You Denver group show and sale, where every piece of artwork will sell for $52.80 or less. Here’s how they explain it: “We have survived break-ins, robberies, bricks thrown through our windows, gentrification, the loss of our fellow Navajo Street District Galleries and the closing of Patsy's. We've experienced dark, lonely Friday nights that used to be filled with artists and celebrations of all things creative. We've heard wolves howling at our door (or was that the sound of bulldozers?). But we're still here. Because of the loyalty of our Denver patrons, we have survived over twenty years through bust and boom in this crazy cow-town. We believe art should be for all people, rich and poor, and because we are so very thankful to still be here, we are inviting you to our infamous back gallery for a Thank You from April 6 through 22.”
Don’t forget to show some love to little Zip 37 as you venture out to see some art. (Bonus: Drop by Zip and also take in a fifty-year retrospective from Zip member Frances Mackey in the main gallery.)
Doug Spencer: Cave Lovers
Dateline, 3004 Larimer Street
April 6 through 30
Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 6 to 11 p.m.
Self-taught as an artist, Doug Spencer has been on the radar of some of Denver’s most adventurous galleries — at Leon in 2016, and now at Dateline, where he’s mounted his first Denver solo exhibition, Cave Lovers. As the title suggests, it’s about lovers locked in discovery, rendered in a style reminiscent of cave drawings, with layers of rock dust, smoke and pigment smoothed into smoky images.
Vincent Comparetto, Abstract City
Mod Livin’ RiNo at Modern Nomad, 2936 Larimer Street
Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 4 to 7 p.m.
Vincent Comparetto’s work blends collage and stenciled modernist shapes in poster-worthy graphic compositions that will fit right in at the mid-century furniture emporium Mod Livin' RiNo, which shares open space with other like-minded home-design businesses at Modern Nomad. "Cities are a collision of cultures,” says Comparetto in a statement. “In my work, I wish to celebrate these overlapping styles of architecture and design. Much of this is inspired by my travels.”
Access Gallery, 909 Santa Fe Drive
April 6 through May 4
Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 5 to 9 p.m.
Access Gallery goes in a fascinating direction in April with MRI, an exhibit of art inspired by detailed brain scans created through magnetic resonance imaging. See how artists view what’s inside our noggins from an unscientific and purely visual point of view. Artists include Californian Elizabeth Jameson, who incorporates scans of her own brain into her work; CU Professor George Rivera; ceramics artist Laura Jacobson and 3-D print artist Judy Gardner. Definitely a think piece! Additional receptions will take place on April 20 and May 4.
Large Spaces and Small Worlds
ReCreative Denver, 765 Santa Fe Drive
April 6 through 28
Opening reception: Friday, April 6, 6 to 10 p.m.
Becky Wareing Steele creates miniature worlds, while Leo Rivera paints big on large-scale abstract paintings and even bigger street-art murals. Make what you like of the juxtaposition in this show curated by phenom and recent RMCAD grad Drew Austin that includes a collaborative installation.
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DelecTABLE: The Fine Art of Dining
Art Students League of Denver, 200 Grant Street
April 6 through May 18
Preview party: Friday, April 6, 6 to 9 p.m.
Artist reception: Friday, April 27, 5:30 to 8 p.m.
Preview admission: $10, includes one drink
DelecTABLE is a national juried ceramic-arts exhibit, but it’s also a sale of functional works that will pretty up your table and your home; it kicks off with a preview party offering early-bird shopping to attendees for the price of a $10 ticket. In addition, DelecTABLE juror Marty Fielding will deliver a lecture on April 26, then lead a two-day demo workshop on April 28 and 29; in between, the ASLD will host an artist reception on April 27. Find all the details at the ASLD website.
Suchitra Mattai, Sweet Asylum
K Contemporary, 1412 Wazee Street
April 7 through 28
Saturday, April 7, 6 to 9 p.m.
Suchitra Mattai works wonders twisting paint, collage, embroidery thread, appliqués, mixed media, china plates and whatever else happens to be around into installation pieces that fluidly allude to her own multicultural history and traveler’s spirit in an inviting way. There will be a little bit of everything in her debut solo exhibition at K Contemporary, and like most of what we’ve seen so far at Doug Kacena’s smart new art space, it promises to be stunning. Not to miss.