Meet the First Six Artists Announced for Artopia 2016

It's cold outside, but plans are heating up for Artopia 2016 on Saturday, February 20 — a night of art, culture and fashion at City Hall. And cocktails, of course, which you can enjoy as you move through seven rooms of art installations and exhibits, curated by Jolt from Guerilla Garden, and showcasing Denver's most talented established and up-and-coming artists, as well as some stars on the national scene.

Whiteout, the Westword fashion show, will return to Artopia, too, featuring local designers and their interpretation of “The Art of Fashion.” Watch as Wilhelmina models strut down the runway in AnnaFesta, D’Lola Couture, Denver Bespoke, Elyse Rainbolt, Equillibrium, Gino Velardi and YoCisco. For the first time, Whiteout will also feature a curvy collection and a men’s underwear line.

Here are the first six artists announced for Artopia 2016; watch for more!
Mark Sink
Mark Sink is a photographer, curator and teacher who has made a living from fine-art photography since 1978. Sink lived in New York City through the 1980's and worked with and documented the lives and works of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Rene Ricard and other art luminaries of the decade. Sink was an inspiration for and co-founder of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver in the early 1990s. In recent years, he has worked as a private art consultant in Denver, independently curating a wide range of artists and shows. The most recent of note is MoP, the Month of Photography Denver, which stirs up over eighty venues into one month of celebrating photography. Well known for his images made with the plastic Diana camera, Sink has recently explored collodion wet-plate technique with partner Kristen Hatgi. Sink's work is in numerous museum collections and has been exhibited in gallery solo and group shows worldwide. He is represented by G. Ray Hawkins in California, Robin Rice in New York, and Rule Gallery in Denver. Sink is one of Westword's 100 Colorado Creatives as well as an artist participant in Artopia 2015
Matthew Mahoney
Matthew Mahoney is an artist from Palm Springs, California, who currently lives in Pleasantville, New York. He earned his MFA in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2014, and his BA in art education from Point Loma Nazarene University in 2010. He was an artist in residence at the San Diego Art Institute in the summer of 2015. Mahoney has shown in California, Rhode Island, New York, Boston and Denver. His sculptural techniques evolved from years of practicing origami and fly-tying. His subject matter is derived from recognizable shapes, figuration, iconography, pop imagery and material value.
Michael Dowling 
Michael Dowling has been exhibiting throughout the U.S. and Europe for fifteen years with a focus on his native Colorado. He has had several solo and group exhibitions, including recent projects at the McNichols Building in Denver, Union Station in Denver, the Museum of Fine Art in Long Beach, California, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. Dowling's work is in several private and corporate collections. Most of his work is focused on painting in an updated version of the Venetian School methods. He also has an extensive program of charcoal drawing and works with sculptural installation, as well, using a broad range of materials, from railroad ties to plastic animal toy figurines and feathers. Dowling began his education at the University of Colorado, where he took his first painting class at the age of 24. He completed his studies at Scoala Lorenzo de Medici in Florence, Italy, and attends ongoing residencies in Tuscany with his formative teachers. Dowling now teaches his painting technique and general art practice in a formal school setting as well as in his private studio.
Ricky Powell
Born and raised in New York City, Ricky Powell is a legendary photographer who specializes in the environmental portrait. He graduated with an associate's degree in liberal arts from LaGuardia Community College and a bachelor's in physical education from Hunter College. Though Powell initially rose to fame because of his relationship with the Beastie Boys, he is well known for his intimate photographs, which have been featured in the New York Times, the New York Post, the Daily News, the Village Voice, TIME, Newsweek, VIBE, the Source, Rolling Stone and more. Powell's photographs focus on the organic New Yorker; they simultaneously convey intimacy and detachment as they provide a unique lens through which the viewer can analyze the mundane. Powell considers the relationship between the photographer and the photograph to be "a chemical connection of some sort." The connection between Powell and his camera is further stimulated by Greenwich Village, where he currently resides. As the intrinsic qualities of the photograph have chang
ed since Powell began capturing his moments, so have the subjects: He says he is now more likely to photograph "strangers in his Greenwich Village neighborhood than multiplatinum hip-hop acts and downtown art stars."
Ruben Aguirre
Ruben Aguirre is a Chicago-based painter who has transitioned from graffiti writer to abstract painter/contemporary muralist. He has produced a number of murals in the Chicagoland area and has exhibited at the Chicago Cultural Center, the Zhou B Art Center, and the National Museum of Mexican Art. He earned a bachelor's degree from Columbia College Chicago in 2002, with a concentration in painting. His public art aims to reimagine underutilized architectural structures and spaces with color and form.
Thomas Evans
Thomas Evans's current art focus is all about connecting music and fine arts through traditional methods and technology. Accenting his focus are the sights, sounds and issues surrounding urban culture, which shape the way he approaches the creation of concepts, use of tools and overall execution of his work.

Much of Evans's work consists of channeling concepts and issues about the urban arts culture through portraits of minority and urban subjects. His subjects range from the serious, such as the bastardization of a culture, to the lighthearted, like breakdancing. Some portraits open a window into the inner workings of a certain community, while other paintings simply try to enhance the audience's experience.

The tools Evans uses to develop his work are not limited to any one medium. His goal is to capture every sense of his audience, thus breaking down barriers and making it easier to be engulfed in the canvas. He sees the senses as building blocks for bridges between the viewer and the messages he wants to communicate. The more blocks he uses, the better the viewer will receive the message. See Evans in our street-art roundup from Colorado Crush 2015.

Tickets to Artopia 2016
 are now on sale — and use the promo code EDITORIAL to get $5 off on any one of the three ticket levels: Happy Hour, VIP and General Admission. Here's the fine print:

Happy Hour Tickets: Come at 5:30 p.m. for a special reception featuring food samples from participating restaurants and a chance to preview the art, then stay for all the fashion and fun of Artopia itself as a general admission ticket-holder.

VIP Tickets: Come at 7 p.m. for a special reception featuring food from Troy Guard restaurants, an open bar and a gift bag; enjoy special runway seating during the Whiteout fashion show (runway area limited to VIP only).

General Admission Tickets: Come at 7 p.m. for all the art and entertainment of Artopia, which runs until midnight. 

Find more details and watch for more artist announcements on our Artopia 2016 site.

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