If you're wandering through Santa Fe's First Friday Art Walk, be sure to stop at 747 Santa Fe Drive and take a look at the words "Clown Town" in bright blue L.E.D. lights up in a second-floor window. That's the home of the Side Show Studio, an out-of-the-way gallery that just celebrated its one-year anniversary.
"We're a small space in a big art district, and we're upstairs," says Side Show founder Sarah Polzin. "The name came from the idea of a little side show attraction you pull off the side of the road to investigate. We're not a huge gallery, but we are unique."
After returning from a one-year bicycle odyssey around Europe, Polzin rented the second-story space with her friend and fellow artist, Adam Buehler, and her father. Since then, the three have been working in Side Show Studio -- located above the Artists on Santa Fe gallery -- and pushing themselves to display new work every First Friday.
After growing up with two artists for parents, it's no wonder that Polzin embraced painting, studying art at Metro and eventually opening her own modest gallery. "My brother, sisters and I all grew up around art, constantly," she remembers, adding that this art ranged from painting and sculpting to yearly participation in Denver's now-defunct cardboard derby. And she's thrilled to now be working with her father.
Already having enjoyed a long career as a commercial sign painter with his own Stargazer Creations (you know that Purina Dog Chow sign off I-70? Yeah, that's him), Larry Polzin contributes to Side Show by covering the walls with vintage, circus freak-show style designs, including one that borrows a disturbing line from The Simpsons: "CAN'T SLEEP, CLOWNS WILL EAT ME!". Larry Polzin also enjoys taking pictures of his daughter and her friends, playfully manipulating the pictures in a series titled "Gallery of Freaks."
Both Sarah Polzin and studio-mate Buehler carry a life-long passion for recycled art, often staying away from traditional art supplies in favor of more economically convenient ones. "I have a big heart for dumpster diving," Polzin gushes. "I paint on wood, I never paint on canvas. It just doesn't have the character that wood does. I often walk through alleys, searching for pieces of wood to paint on. [Adam Buehler] will go to Habitat for Humanity and pick up stacks of old doors, and do this huge four or five paneled piece that fits together."
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For her latest series, Polzin is embracing a more whimsical, naturally inspired path -- as opposed to the complex themes and provocative commentaries that often dominate the art world. "I liked the idea of doing something less serious," she says. "Personal emotion had driven my work for so long, I just wanted to do something charming and playful. And by coming up with these alliterations [such as Mongooses Mounting Motorcycles or Sharks Sharing Strawberries] it became a way to keep the creativity flowing. Now I walk around with a notepad all day, thinking of these little alliterations."
The creativity has been flowing successfully for Sarah Polzin for a while now. She has completed fifteen pieces in her series, and last December sold out a show at Colfax's R Bar. At this point, she has only a few pieces remaining in her alliteration series, and is mostly only doing them on commission. But you can view what she does have (along with the work of her studio mates) this First Friday at the Side Show Studio, located on the second floor of 747 Santa Fe. Just look for the big, blue Clown Town sign in the window.
More of Sarah Polzin's Alliteration Series is on Page 2.