Meet the 2014 MasterMinds: Eric Dallimore of Leon Gallery, visual arts

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Westword has always covered the local arts scene. But ten years ago, we recognized that if the arts were really going to grow in those town, they could use some some fertilizer in the form of cold, hard cash. And so we created the MasterMind Awards, which every year gives no-strings-attached grants to five local artists and arts organizations; the 2014 class of MasterMinds, our tenth, will be introduced at Artopia tonight. This year's MasterMind Award for fine arts: Eric Dallimore of Leon Gallery. See also: Take ten -- meet the latest class of MasterMinds

Westword: What's your favorite thing about the Denver arts scene?

Eric Dallimore: What I love so much about the arts scene is that it is one giant, wet ball of clay that is being molded by all of the artists, gallery owners and arts supporters across the city. Denver has such a rich and diverse arts scene, ranging from the MCA and DAM, to Wonderbound and Leon Gallery, to amazing visual artists such as Travis Hetman, Lauri Lynnxe Murphy, Andi Todaro, Jordan Knecht, and so many more.... Even our music scene and literary arts scene is powerful! Everyone is excited to be here and we are the ones who are shaping the future of the Denver arts scene and helping to put Denver on the map. Even our local government is highly engaged in this conversation, and when you combine all of these forces, it makes one rad arts community unlike any other. Take that, NYC! Bring it on, Chicago! Get outta here, Seattle...You ain't got nothing on Denver!

Just kidding. I hope to show my work in all of these cities by 2016 and create collaborative efforts from artists residing all across the world. How did you wind up in Denver? In 2005, my best friend Matthew Buford and I moved to Breckenridge to snowboard and escape the insanity that was surrounding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. At the time, I had just finished college and was about to embark on this two-year adventure across Asia with just me and my camera. Fate had a different idea in mind for me, though....

I fell during a run at A-Basin and broke my arm, which sent all of my traveling funds to the lovely Vail Medical Center. Luckily for me, though, I had met an amazing group of friends in Denver and began noticing the fresh, exuberant energy that was surrounding the Denver arts scene. The DAM had just expanded with the Hamilton building, then the MCA, and whispers of a Clyfford Still Museum were beginning to surface; the Santa Fe Arts District was beginning to grow and RiNo was also making its mark on the map. So I thought I should stick around for a little while and try to begin my career as an artist in this lovely city. Little did I know that almost ten years later this would still be my home and I would open up an art gallery. I have yet to make it to Asia. How did you wound up doing what you do? My father was a portrait photographer in the '70s and '80s, you know, back when the portrait guy would show up at the local department store in a small town for about two weeks and everyone would rush to get their yearly family portraits taken. Well, that mystical machine he used to carry around with him became a major interest to me as a child, and by the time I went to high school I joined the yearbook staff and knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So I went on to college to study photojournalism, but then I became enchanted with fine art along the way and never looked back. And what should people know about what you do? I'm the kind of artist who gets bored with repetition, so after each successful project, I challenge myself to create in a new style. Rarely do I stick to one discipline at a time, or one theme in my work. That may be a good thing or a bad thing, but it's just the way I create art. Besides creating art, I also teach art (photography, printmaking, sculpture and installation) through Think 360 Arts. Another area of interest in my work is creating large-scale public art, which is becoming my primary focus these days. I have recently teamed up with Jared David Paul and we are creating a Creative Consultant/Public Art team and calling ourselves &More (And.More).

I'm also the curator and co-owner of Leon, an art gallery in the Uptown neighborhood that focuses on emerging artists. I walk the fine line between being both an artist and a curator, and I enjoy fulfilling both roles very much. As an artist, I want to make art more accessible to the general public and use art as a voice for addressing some of our most pressing ecological conditions; as a curator, I want to help as many artists as I can fulfill their vision and potential. For more on Eric Dallimore, see his 100 Colorado Creatives profile.

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