#27: Jennifer Mosquera
Former Denver deputy district attorney Jennifer Mosquera walked away from her career in law to follow her muse as an artist. She’s left behind murals and chalk art in the streets while live-painting her way through life since then, and began mounting shows and events at her onetime City Park West gallery space, the Art Salon, which became famous for its robot-art parties and Valentine’s Day scorned-lover exhibits and voodoo-doll workshops.
These days, the world is still her canvas: Mosquera has gone big-time with her knack for designing events as the creative side of Prismajic, a platform for creating immersive experiences that combine art and technology. Currently in residence at the Museum of Outdoor Arts, Mosquera and Prismajic will recruit MOA’s Design and Build interns this summer to help create a major installation to open in 2019; get an inside look into the process through her answers to the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?
Jennifer Mosquera: The author Tom Robbins. I want to paint and create the way he writes. He uses color and vivid imagery, strange juxtapositions and philosophy to create a story that takes you on a whimsical, poignant and memorable ride. If I can convey a small portion of the magical journey that Mr. Robbins imparts to me when I read his work, I would consider it an amazing success.
Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?
Tom Robbins, David Bowie and [contemporary artist] Yayoi Kusama: Tom Robbins for how he reaches his wildest creativity; David Bowie to learn what forces in his life allowed for him to become his work — or was it just his nature? And Yayoi Kusama — what is the nature of her thinking? Did she wander down that path, or did the nature of her thinking put her squarely in the world she has spent her life showing us through her work? Basically, is her work a form of madness, compulsion or divinity?
What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?
The best thing is that we are in a new wave of immersive art — a renaissance, if you will. We can craft what the landscape looks like for years to come, or hopefully bust open the box of what we can do and where we can lead other artists. It is a very exciting time, but also one that we should take with great responsibility. We can affect many people and possibly the caliber of work to come, and that can be daunting, but really powerful, too.
The worst thing is that there is an educational component to the public and even among creatives. Since the field is relatively nascent, there is not a lot locally to act as metaphor (guide? instructor? map?) for the movement. So the ideas that are used to explain fall short in what the potential of what immersive experiences can be. Trying to explain a particular immersive experience to people that have never experienced something similar is difficult. But on the other hand, creating something that is so new, without real comparison, is a wonderful opportunity to blow people’s minds.
How about globally?
I would say the same as locally — though on a worldwide scale, the technology components are amazing! What artists and tech-savvy developers are doing together can open up things that we can only imagine. I love that creatives are stretching and raising the bar with the integration of technology and art. These are truly exciting times for this movement, especially since the sharing of these ideas is so readily available (easy).
What’s your best or favorite accomplishment as an artist?
This project — Prismajic — and, more specifically, the collaboration with the Museum of Outdoor Arts. Natura Obscura has taken years of effort and is built upon years of trying to find my place in the art landscape here in Denver and in the world. It has been a difficult road. The nature of this project surpasses all others I’ve been involved in in so many ways.
Finally, and most important, I am not doing it alone. My life partner and business partner, Eric Jaenike, is by my side. He is so smart, has tons of integrity, and has the business acumen to get us to where we need to go. This project would have never gotten off the ground if he were not a part of it.
It is a project that needs many minds. There is great excitement and the opportunity to be greater than oneself in this effort, by working with others and what they have to offer. I am constantly learning, building new relationships and being inspired by those around me. Prismajic is a vehicle to create these relationships and opportunities on a daily basis and surpass any accomplishments that I could have achieved on my own. I am so lucky to be surrounded by so much talent and to have the support and combined efforts of so many amazing people.
You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?
So many things. But first and foremost, we want to build our own facility and create something uniquely beautiful, transcendent and meaningful. Our plan for a permanent facility allows for the environments to change over time and to bring in other artists to show off their concepts, whether it be creating a whole space or performing within one.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
Love it! A cooperative art town in my book, with lots of energy and in a beautiful place I call home. I was openly welcomed into the art community by other creatives like (but not limited to) Mario Acevedo, Eric Matelski and the Reiger brothers at Lapis Gallery. They have not only become my art family, but friends. I tried to leave and found that you do not have community like that elsewhere. I am back, for good.
What makes you want to leave?
New quickie development that forgets that we live in a beautiful state and city where people revel in the outdoors. Much of this development values more square footage and profits rather than people, animals and nature that also live in the city. Taking a walk and a bike ride through the city when I first moved to Denver was a joy, but when the latest flock of “cranes” flew in, I started to worry about my beautiful city’s architecture and overall aesthetic integrity and a person’s experience of living here. I see old trees being torn down and replaced with saplings, like that is okay. I see beautiful mansions being bought and razed for other buildings with cheap materials and little design sensibility, all in the name of making a quick dollar. Things are moving so fast. I worry that the nature of the experience of living in Denver is going to change for the worse.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Tim Vacca, the director of programming at MOA. He has years of experience in the arts and is one of the greatest people I have had the privilege to work with. We have been working closely on the Natura Obscura exhibit with MOA over the last few months, and I am already indebted to him for all of the generosity, expertise and insight he has imparted to us in the planning. He is a true partner, has a wonderful instinct and eye, and so much experience in the arts and installation work that I feel supported in ways that I could not have imagined. Truly a dream to work with, and that I cherish daily. That sounds like a platitude, but in all reality, his sense of integrity and his heart, combined with the aforementioned attributes, make this a charmed experience for me.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
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The MOA installation Natura Obscura . It is a 5,000- square-foot immersive art experience in the indoor facility in the Englewood municipal center. It is where I am focusing all of my energy this year. I am looking forward to kicking it off at the end of the year and opening it to the public in January 2019. I am so excited, I can hardly believe it is really happening. It is a large and ambitious project that is incorporating the museum’s Design and Build program, where ten artists will be creating the actual experience. Tim, Eric and I will all be leading the charge. It will be amazing and rigorous.
Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
If he has not already had a piece of the limelight, I would shine a creative spotlight on Gabriel Otto, frontman of Pan Astral. Not only is he an accomplished visual artist whose work I had the pleasure of showing in the days of the Art Salon, but he is a singer, performer and producer. He is a collaborator with others, and I love his work.
Prismajic is currently in residence at the Museum of Outdoor Arts throughout 2018. Prismajic’s immersive exhibition Natura Obscura opens in January 2019. Learn more about Mosquera and Prismajic online.