Two existing Denver galleries, Abend and Gallery 1261, both moved from their former locations to this space, bringing in a brand-new operation, K Contemporary; the fledgling enterprise is the brainchild of abstract painter Doug Kacena. One of the most innovative aspects of the arrangement is that the galleries are not assigned specific locations within the capacious building, but will switch spaces as required by the exhibition needs of each.
For the grand opening, K Contemporary has taken the lead position, filling the lobby and the main-floor rooms with a spectacular solo, Scott Young: Gas Light Love Bomb, which comprises conceptual art done with electronics, photos and lighted glass tubes that are filled with luminescent gases, including neon. The show cogently tells the story of a romance, or romance in general, by setting up discrete sections modeled on an oratorio. The prelude to the love story is in the lobby, and then the show breaks into the three phases of the oratorio in the gallery proper.
The first act in the main space is called “Possibility,” and it's in this section that the two principal players in Gas Light Love Bomb are introduced. “Coextensive” consists of two vertical color-field panels, paired as a diptych; in the void between them is a glowing glass rod filled with argon gas. This piece represents the female in the relationship.
Around the corner, “Pull Me In” stands for the male. It also features a glowing vertical drop in an argon-filled glass tube, but instead of filling an empty space, it's mounted on top of the painted panel. The glass rod has been bent to spell the word “come,” which partly obscures the already nearly invisible title printed down the center. Both the imagery and the word can be interpreted as double entendres explicitly referencing sexual acts. In fact, wordplay is a motif of the show, even in the exhibit’s title: “Gas Light” refers to both the sociopathic practice and the actual gas lights that Young uses.
The third and final act, “Disillusion,” depicts the breakup with a group of light-colored panels from the “You Are My...” series. Young has printed words on each panel; the title and a single word below are lit up by neon. In the most down-hearted of the group, the printed words include “misery” and “doom,” while the lighted word is “deception.” On panels from another series, neon is used to cross out parts of yet more printed words. In “I Can’t Unlove You,” for instance, the “Un” is scribbled over with lighted tubes.
The way the show is installed, viewers arrive back at the prelude, which suggests that falling in and out of love is a constant closed loop, like those faces in “Hey There – We Are All the Same on the Outside.”
The show runs through December 2 at K Contemporary, 1412 Wazee Street. While you check out Gas Light Love Bomb, you can also see the space that includes Abend and Gallery 1261. Call 303-590-9800 or go to kcontemporaryart.com for more information and gallery hours.