Colorado Creatives

100 Colorado Creatives 4.0: Doug Kacena

Ron Hicks, "Intimate Encounter," 50x40, oil on canvas, painted over by Doug Kacena to become "Redacted Memory."
Ron Hicks, "Intimate Encounter," 50x40, oil on canvas, painted over by Doug Kacena to become "Redacted Memory." Courtesy of Doug Kacena
#66: Doug Kacena

Doug Kacena, an artist-landlord at Denver’s Artuvus Studios and a fine abstract-expressionist painter in his own right, gained notoriety a year ago for Crossover, an experiment in collaboration at the former Mike Wright Gallery; Kacena painted over and transformed canvases by some well-known local representational artists and allowed them to do the same to his. The exhibit’s premise raised kudos and eyebrows alike, as well as controversy over the boundaries of creative ownership. Now Kacena is adding gallerist to his résumé as co-owner and director of K Contemporary, a new art venue sharing space with Gallery 1261 and Abend Gallery at 1412 Wazee Street in LoDo. Learn more about Kacena through his answers to the 100CC questionnaire.

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Doug Kacena
Courtesy of the artist
Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?

Doug Kacena: My creative muse is a building, Artuvus Studios. It is a magical Quonset hut that I am incredibly fortunate to own with Melody Sealman. We have sixteen artists creating here, and it is a constant source of inspiration for my artwork. It feeds my passion for promoting artists and engagement with the arts.

Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?

I would love to have a party with artists Gilbert and George (who in my mind count as one guest), Andy Warhol and Alexander McQueen. I’m not sure why...but I think the conversation would be fantastically dry, and everyone would be impeccably dressed.

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Doug Kacena, “Blind Love," oil, graphite and spray paint on canvas.
Doug Kacena
What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?

I love how supportive Denver artists are of each other. We tend to have a “We're in this together” attitude that is unique in what is typically a very competitive industry. The worst part is definitely the “starving artist” paradigm. I feel like we have bought into this idea as a culture, and it is far past time for it to evaporate from our lexicon. Artists can and should make a living for the very important role that we play in our communities.

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Doug Kacena, “As of Now” installation.
Photo by Jordan Spencer
Are trends worth following?

Only if it makes you happy.

What’s one trend you love and one that you hate?

Love: Shoes.
Hate: Disposables.

What’s your best or favorite accomplishment as an artist?

I am most proud of my Crossover exhibit; I got a fair amount of hate mail from it.

You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?

As grandiose as it may sound, in my heart of hearts, I really want to see the Denver arts community elevated to a more prominent role in the international arts dialogue. Oh, and I have a lot of traveling still to do.

Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?

I absolutely love Denver! As a Colorado native, I have been watching the creative community blossom my entire life. I feel we are at a pivotal time in Denver’s artistic evolution, and I’m incredibly excited to be a part of it!

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

I’m kinda obsessed with Suchitra Mattai’s work. It is fucking brilliant!
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Ed Kucera's "The Frontiersman," oil on panel, painted over by Doug Kacena to become “The Traveler - Just Us.”
Courtesy of Doug Kacena
What's on your agenda in the coming year?

My new gallery, K Contemporary, is heading up my list. I’m concentrating on creating a dynamic, immersive and synergistic platform for championing artists and engaging the community and collectors.

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A new canvas awaits transformation in Doug Kacena's studio.
Courtesy of Doug Kacena
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?

There are a lot of amazing artists who deserve recognition in the Denver arts community! I think Mario Zoots, Daisy Patton and Scott Young are poised to make a splash nationally. I’m admittedly biased. (Editor’s note: Zoots, Patton and Young are all currently represented by K Contemporary.)

Scott Young’s Gas Light Love Bomb opens with a reception on Saturday, November 4, from 6 to 10 p.m., and runs through December 2 at K Contemporary, 1412 Wazee Street; learn more about K Contemporary and its artists online.

Learn more about Doug Kacena and his work online.
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Contact: Susan Froyd