David Zimmer is a man of action and few words: A longtime figure in the Denver art scene, he's something of an art alchemist who straddles a century in his enigmatic works, which bustle with strangely iconic curiosities and found objects, hovering half in and half out of the Victorian age, a ghost image in a contemporary cage. Though he has a studio, Zimmer often works at the dining room table in his home, surrounded by more carefully arranged curiosities and artwork (especially notable is a large painting by William Stockman in the living room). The dark wood and deep golden light that falls through window shades crafted from maps into the room is only magnified by Zimmer's arcanely personal collections of objects: Shells fitted with light bulbs, glowing incandescent screens, pale blue glass bottles, phonographs, Buddha busts and amber globes.
Long fascinated by the pioneering boxed assemblages of Joseph Cornell, Zimmer says he's been making "stuff" since he was a tool-tinkering kid. "I grew up on a farm and had to make my own fun," he says, recalling a past loaded with 4-H projects and well-kept insect collections. You could say that preserved bugs and the evidence of much tinkering have both played a role in his developing oeuvre, which now encompasses everything from rooms hung with bottled photographs to steampunkish table dioramas rigged with videos of songbirds, complete with sound effects. He started out a photographer, a fact that still often plays a part in his three-dimensional work.
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Zimmer finds his materials in junk shops, alleys, dumpsters, the Goodwill and the hardware store; when he sits down to create an assemblage, it's with only a vapor of an idea that takes shape as he goes along. Nothing about it, he says, is accidental, but it often comes together by chance. He's currently working toward an exhibition later this year at MCA Denver.