Visual Arts

Reed Weimer talks new work, gallery drama and the birth of Navajo Street Art District

Reed Weimer has been integral to the Navajo Street Arts District since its unofficial birth in the early '80s. He and his wife, Chandler Romeo, have worked side-by-side as both artists and landlords in this now-thriving art scene. Weimer -- whose paintings and prints hang in the Denver Art Museum, the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York -- is now showing new paintings for the first time in several years.

In advance of Weimer's show opening this Friday, July 20 at Z Art. Dept., we spoke with the artist about his process, the evolution of Denver's creative community, and what it's like to be the landlord of a gallery where you once showed your work.

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Westword: It's been a while since you've shown your work. Can you talk about what you'll be showing?

I am very happy to get a deadline, so I could finally get some work done -- because apparently, on my own, I don't do more than make plans. The work in this show is a continuation of a body of work that I have been working on for, oh, I don't know, decades?

I made the sketches for these paintings back when I was a schoolteacher. I hang on to everything -- keep all my sketchbooks, keep all of my sketches. And I almost always work from these sketches; I've never been one of those guys who could just walk up to a blank canvas, make a mark and go from there. They're all planned out, part of a series. I like working in series and theme and variation.

That way, when I'm working on something and I get a good idea from a reaction to what I've already done, I can use that in a following piece or some place besides changing what you've already worked on. Otherwise, I think you just end up re-painting the same painting over and over. That wouldn't be good.

This [work I'm showing] is part of a series called "Overgrowth"; it's a formal abstraction based on organic forms -- from microscopic to landscape size, color and texture overlapping in indefinite space. Kinda beatnik stuff, you know? When your earliest memories are of crawling on the linoleum floor and looking at the patterns...

Who gave you this deadline to work from in the first place?

Randy Roberts -- an old, old friend who I've known since 1980 when he was the bartender at Walabi's when we were all punk rockers -- has a gallery (Z Modern.) He had seen some of my work years ago at Dana Cain's "Modernism" show. He said, "Reed, I like your price point and I think you should think about bring some of these down to the gallery." (Laughs)

As rapidly as I could -- two years later -- I finally went down to the gallery thinking, well, I'd like to get some in a bin, or maybe get some of my pieces around the sofas. He sells mid-century collectable furniture, motorcycles, all kinds of stuff. And then he has this art gallery. I wasn't even aiming for the gallery; I just thought, I've got inventory and I need to get it out of the studio.

Randy does business the old-world kind of way; meaning, you don't talk about business for a long time. You talk about everything else. So finally he said, "I can give you a show on these dates," and I said, "Well, right on!" So there's the show.

I stopped showing in galleries a long time ago, because, well, this is just the way it is: Galleries take 50 percent of the money, they all do. That's based on this "Well, that's the way they do it in New York." Apparently, there's no shortage of artists -- artists who want to show in galleries. But there should never be a shortage of artists, or musicians.

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Bree Davies is a multimedia journalist, artist advocate and community organizer born and raised in Denver. Rooted in the world of Do-It-Yourself arts and music, Davies co-founded Titwrench experimental music festival, is host of the local music and comedy show Sounds on 29th on CPT12 Colorado Public Television and is creator and host of the civic and social issue-focused podcast, Hello? Denver? Are You Still There? Her work is centered on a passionate advocacy for all ages, accessible, inclusive, non-commercial and autonomous DIY art spaces and music venues in Denver.
Contact: Bree Davies

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