My dinner with Steven: A convivium and preview night at Illiterate Gallery

Quietly, very quietly, over the last year since the venue opened, Illiterate Gallery director Adam Gildar instigated a resident artist program, wherein Illiterate offers artists who go through an application process a chance to stage a solo show at the gallery and, for a small monthly fee, prepare for it using on-site studio space. Residencies of this type are rare enough, but even rarer are those aimed primarily at emerging local artists such as Steven Prochyra, whose culmination show, Requiem - New Works by S.D. Prochyra, opens early in January. In a lovely gesture, Gildar chose to mark the end of Prochyra's residency with a slow-food convivium for a disparate but fascinating group of invitees from the creative community. Dinner was designed by Win Wear's Mark Shusterman, who prepared stuffed winter squash for the vegetarians and roasted Colorado lamb for the omnivores, served up on a beautiful banquet table that stretched the length of the gallery. Around twenty folks previewed Prochyra's show and broke homemade bread over Great Divide brews and mulled wine, and it was truly a night of surprises. Kudos to the chef and his team, who took good care of everyone and sculpted beautiful platters, to boot. I, for one, feel humble about being included on Gildar's list of creatives. The rest of the tablemates, who included among their ranks such local luminaries as YesPleaseMore entrepreneur Samuel Schimek, Oscar Max Johanson of Theory and Practice Gallery, assemblage artist David Zimmer, photography team Mark Sink and Kristen Hatgi, letterpress printer and graphic design genius Rick Griffith and still more, made for a lively meal, surrounded by Prochyra's elegant and powerful drawings and woodcuts of bare tree branches and such. One of his strongest pieces, at least to my eye, features an outstretched red hand with a twig growing from it, printed on a 1944 map of Japan from shortly before the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Prochyra himself is a gentle fellow who grew up in Franktown and, though well-traveled, is drawn to do work in his home state; his new works, particularly the woodcuts, are stripped down and very strong in a moving and primal way. His show opens January 7 at Illiterate, 82 South Broadway, with a reception from 6 to 11 p.m., and from the look of things promises to be a meditative walk in the woods for all who venture through. Requiem will then remain on view through January 28.

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