Visual Arts

Illiterate's Adam Gildar goes solo in a new chapter for Denver arts

Adam Gildar, Westword MasterMind (Class of 2011), is having a hard time getting used to saying "I" rather than "we" when speaking about happenings at his South Broadway gallery: Formerly known as Illiterate and managed by three partners including Gildar, it's now re-entering the art-scene fray as Gildar Gallery, run by Gildar alone.

Illiterate's goal was always to foster community and provide a launching pad for emerging artists, many of whom are just moving out of academic life. But it was also tied to the web journal Illiterate, and the connections could get tangled. "It was the logical progression for what's been happening at Illiterate, so we made the decision to divide and conquer," he says. "We had so many different projects swelling out of control, and in order to achieve all those endeavors, I realized we needed to have a more dedicated focus."

Some of those projects included make-and-take artist workshops, lectures, artist dinners and artist residencies -- in addition to a regular schedule of gallery shows. And because the gallery strove to do much more than simply galvanize a community -- the goal was also to empower that community and give a voice to it -- Illiterate tried to let the artists call their own shots, while offering assistance with the promotion and installation of their shows, not to mention providing the space. The concept was an elegant but precarious house of cards.

Now Gildar Gallery will bring the space back to what Gildar hopes will be a more streamlined and weight-bearing shape.

"What will make it different is the congealing of all those visions into emerging forms, and also in how it's being run," Gildar remarks. "Whatever resources we can offer are a little scrappy now, but the longer it goes on, the more we'll be able to offer. The goal of the gallery is to continue to evolve what already happened at Illiterate: We -- I -- already present contemporary works in a fine-art context. Now I can work with the artists toward the idea of learning to be of service to themselves."

Gildar learned a lot building Illiterate, the gallery, from scratch, out of the virtual world of Illiterate online. "I found that it's something I am very passionate about," he says. "The work I see around me is constantly inspiring me to discover new artists, artists who really deserve to have a broader audience. And anybody who's followed illiterate will see this as another unexpected but exciting development."

Things are already revving up at a busy pace: The venue's first exhibit -- the Inaugural Exhibition Vol. 1, a group show -- opens tonight with a reception from 7 to 11 p.m. and continues through February 24 (the second half premieres on March 2). Gildar is now also curating shows at City, O' City, as well as organizing a community-driven event series upstairs from the eatery at Deer Pile, facilitated through Art-Plant, a formal nonprofit dedicated to providing studio residencies and event space.

And the sky's the limit for future plans, which might include a performance track or the addition of artist critiques, Gildar says. Later this spring, the Gildar Gallery will collaborate with MCA Denver in conjunction with its upcoming Bruce Conner show by hanging a satellite show of works by local photographer Richard Peterson.

We wish Gildar well: Even for a MasterMind, that's a brain-taxing amount of activity.

For more information visit the Gildar Gallery website or Facebook page.

And to keep up with the Froyd's-eye-view of arts and culture in Denver, "like" my fan page on Facebook.

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd

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