Arts and Culture

Mario Zoots on the the Art of Collage and the Denver Collage Club

Collage jumps the boundaries of photography, sometimes using ready-made images or layered photographic techniques in unexpected juxtapositions to make a statement. Its rightful place as part of Month of Photography 2015 will be made clear this weekend, when Denver Collage Club comes late to the party at Robert Anderson Gallery. In advance of tonight's opening, we chatted with participating artist and show co-curator Mario Zoots about collage, the club and its mission.

Westword: How did the Collage Club start, and why?

Mario Zoots:
Mark Sink started the Denver Collage Club. He modeled it after the Denver photo salon that he had many years ago, I believe. Basically the idea is to work together as a team and to present shows to galleries and museums, while bypassing the need for a curator, and present a group of artists working under a specific theme, in this case, collage.

We meet monthly and talk about what we are up to, show new work and have discussions about the medium.

It looks like there's a lot of variety among the group.

Yes, we have artists like Adam Milner, who really pushes what collage is, and also Gary Emrich, who is taking a new-media approach to it. Then there are more classic collage artists like myself and David H. Tippit. We also have Matthew Rose, who lives in Paris and skypes in during meetings.

Does collage even have a boundary at this point?

I don't think it does at all!

How do you think it fits into the contemporary art world?

There always seems to be a lot of collage made during times of war. Dada was started in 1916, right after WWI started. We have the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975, and the punk collage-art happening in the late ’60s went right along with that. Now we have these wars in the Middle East, and I feel like these ideas of collage are resurfacing again, like we are taking a microscope to our own media and playing the role of decontructivists.

Cheap materials, DIY spirit?

Exactly. Making something out of nothing. Collage is a medium that by definition incorporates fragments and deals with opposing tensions, broken images, hidden desires and collective myths.

Is there any overarching theme to this show?

The show is a celebration of the medium and the Denver Collage Club's debut to the Denver art scene, organized in conjunction with Month of Photography and its loose theme of "beauty."

I notice you have some fairly famous folks in the mix...

Yes! We were lucky enough to pull from the Paul Harbaugh collection. We have an Alexander Rodchenko! A collage made in his classic style. And we have some photomontage work by Herbert Bayer.

Anything else you'd like to say?

I am very grateful to Mark for letting me take on this show. Mark let me curate the local group, and he chose the master collage works. We are trying to see how collage has changed over time and how maybe the contemporary work can still have a conversation with the past.

Denver Collage Club opens with a reception from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, April 3, at Robert Anderson Gallery and runs through May 30. Lean more at the gallery website. For a list of continuing MoP events, go to MoP online.

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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