To become well-known, artists usually have to find a niche. Once they become popular for their body of work within that forte, other projects are often over-shadowed. Guest curator for Vertigo Art Space, Mike McClung, is interested in defining popular Denver artists outside of their most-known work. In his new show, Another Way to Go: 6 Artists, 12 Directions, McClung asked six established Denver artists to submit a piece that embodies their known work, and a piece that departs from it. The result embodies an artist's multifunctional creativity.
"I began looking at the maturation of an artist and the development of an artist's voice," McClung says. "And that was the jumping off point for the show. But as the concept progressed, it went from an artist's voice to an artist's recognition and identity. The real difference being that even though these artists have tangents and directions they want to explore, the connection between the different bodies of work may not be recognized by the general public."
The artists featured in the exhibition, which shows through February 11, are Tyler Aiello, Phil Bender, Eric Michael Corrigan, Sangeeta Reddy, Lorelei Schott, and Jimmy Sellars. McClung explains that even though Vertigo owner Kara Duncan usually focuses her shows on aspiring new artists, picking these artists, who have been well-established within the Denver art community, and are represented by different galleries in Denver, was an important departure in order to fully illustrate the dichotomy between what work an artist is known for, and the tangent projects an artist takes on.
"For this show, Kara told me that the parameter was to have all shows exploring different perspectives on the human condition," says McClung. "And, when I got to thinking about the show, I started thinking of this idea of tangents and inversion."
This is one of McClung's first endeavors in curating. He works as an artist in Denver, and Duncan presented him with the opportunity to be a guest curator at Vertigo.
"Kara decided she wanted to establish an emerging curator series where she invites an artist who she may or not have worked with to take a stab at being a curator and exploring their creativity," explains McClung. "She knew that in the last year I was starting an art consultancy and that I see a lot of art. And this was a really great experience for me."
McClung drew on his personal experience as a source of inspiration for the show. "As an artist, I myself have a primary body of work that sells to the public, and have some exposure for that body of work, and yet I wind up having a mental list of things I want to explore," he explains. "The moment you are at a cocktail party and you say you are an artist and they ask you what you do you say, 'Oh, I do a lot of things, but I am mostly recognized for this one primary body of work."
McClung says Sellars, who is most famous for his GI Joe and Ken doll portraiture, experienced rejection when he strayed from his known work. "He had a show with different pieces in it and some people came and asked where his work was. When he pointed to it, and it was not what they expected, they walked out. He's never seen them again." And that story, according to McClung, embodies why Another Way to Go encompasses such an important concept for him.
This Friday, Vertigo will host an event for Third Friday, or Collector's Friday -- a more intimate form of First Friday. The event is meant to allow those serious about purchasing art to mingle at closer proximity to the artists. McClung says the event is important because although First Friday brings in new art enthusiasts and connects Denver artists with their community, the large crowd atmosphere makes it hard to sell art.
"A lot of galleries are getting less and less enthusiastic about First Fridays, but my point of view is that First Friday is important to develop a healthy art community," he explains. "But you need buyers. Several galleries, including Vertigo, felt Third Friday is a good opportunity to invite serious buyers and consultants. But with that said, the event is open to the public, too."
Collector's Friday at Vertigo starts this Friday at 6 pm to 8 pm. For more information, visit www.vertigoartspace.com.
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