#48: Taiko Chandler
A medical worker and artist from Nagano, Japan, Taiko Chandler discovered printmaking as her second calling and flew with it, never looking back. Now unfolding in Denver, Chandler’s monoprint explorations stretch the medium in visually exciting wall-sized installations and small works alike. The artist is also engaged in the printmaking community, helping to organize biennial programming for Denver’s Month of Printmaking, and exhibiting work as a member of Space Gallery. Learn more about what drives Chandler in both work and her community by reading her answers to the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?
Taiko Chandler: My creative inspiration comes from my everyday life experience, anything that shakes my heart or fascinates me — beauty, anger, sadness, frustration, hope, etc. In terms of objects, I enjoy the detail of photography that is exposed using a macro lens; I love the shapes revealed when I cut into vegetables while cooking; and I love the rust that seeps through the concrete wall that I pass when I am out walking. It is the detail of everyday life that interests me — the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful, the loud and the quiet.
Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?
For a dinner party, I would love to invite El Anatsui (one of my favorite artists), David Attenborough (the naturalist) and Issey Miyake (the designer). I think all three of these people have a strong voice and passion for the things that they believe in. It would be fascinating to meet them and experience their knowledge and ambition in person.
What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?
There are many great things about the art community in Denver, but two institutions stick out. First is Mo'Print (Month of Printmaking) — a biannual Colorado Front Range celebration designed to inspire, educate and promote awareness about the art of making original prints. I have served on the organizing committee since 2015, and it has been great to learn about Denver’s printmaking community. It is a challenge to grow Mo’Print, but it has also been very rewarding. I have learned a lot.
Second is ASLD (Art Students League of Denver), where I have been a member since I started printmaking in 2011. I don't have my own studio, so it is wonderful to be able to rent the printmaking studio at ASLD. I have also taken some printmaking classes and workshops there, have participated in their annual summer art market, and I have also exhibited my work there on many occasions. I think ASLD is an amazing resource for Denver artists, art educators and the local population who want to enjoy art.
What sparked your interest in printmaking in the first place?
My professional training was in the medical industry, where I worked as a nurse in Japan and the United Kingdom. When my husband and I moved to Denver, I took a printmaking workshop — my first steps as a professional artist. At first, I found the detail and precision of printmaking to be a big challenge, but I soon came to love it. The biggest contrast with my previous career is getting used to the freedom to express myself in my art (compared to working in a team in a hospital). This freedom has also helped me explore the cultural tensions I feel (both positive and negative) as a Japanese woman living here in the U.S.
Are trends worth following? What’s one trend you love and one that you hate?
I like to know what is going on in the world, so when I have time, I try to catch up on reading the news or different fashion or design articles. But for me, trends are not important. Since I was a child, I have never followed trends, except maybe in food. As many people know, Japan is a very trend-driven country, but I always found it hard to explain why people follow a trend. In general, I don't like owning the same things or doing the same things as other people. I think it is more important to be true to yourself and find your own way.
What’s your best or favorite accomplishment as an artist?
I still think I am at the beginning of my art career. Although I am lucky enough to be in a fantastic art gallery in Denver (Space Gallery) and have occasionally won some awards, I tend to focus on the goals I have yet to achieve. I am very ambitious in my art, but realize that I have a long way to go before I can feel as if I have accomplished what I want to do.
You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?
Personally, I love traveling and would like to continue doing so around the world when I have time. In terms of my art career, I would love to find a wonderful collaborator (either an artist or another creative person, such as a designer) with whom I could work.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here – or makes you want to leave?
I love Denver so much, so it would be hard to leave here. Before moving here, I lived in Sheffield in the United Kingdom and in Miami and Austin here in the U.S. All the places I have lived have their own unique character, and each place was right for me at the time I was there. When I visited Denver for the first time, I was amazed to see the beautiful nature that reminded me of my home state in Japan, Nagano (which was the host city for the 1998 Winter Olympics). I think this is the reason that I feel closest to Denver out of all the other places I have lived. I love the energy in this city, working here as an artist and having the support of the art community. And, yes, there is a direct flight from Denver to Tokyo, which is very convenient!
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
I had to think carefully about this, but I think it is Asuka Sasaki. She is one of the ballet dancers at the Colorado Ballet. She is Japanese, and like me, she is from Nagano. I met Asuka while I was installing my work for my first solo show at the Colorado Ballet’s Armstrong Center for Dance in 2015. I have been lucky enough to see her dance with the ballet, too. Her great success in the U.S. is an inspiration for me.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
Right now (March 2018), I am heavily involved in the Month of Printmaking, both showing work (at Space Gallery and the Buell Theatre) and helping to organize various events. After that finishes, I will have a printmaking residency again at Oehme Graphics in Steamboat Springs in May. I am very much looking forward to working with Sue Oehme again. She is a master printer, an artist and also a great friend. There is a wonderful art community in Steamboat Springs, and it will be great to see my artist friends there again, too. Soon after the residency, I will be showing a large installation made with Tyvek (the construction material that I print on) for a show at Republic Plaza in June. I also have a lot of travel planned for the autumn.
Apart from spending time creating art, I would like to find more time this year to think through the things that have stimulated my work. I would like to explore some new ideas and methods, for instance. I am interested in the broad concept of ‘social value’ and would like to think through how I can better incorporate my ideas about this into my art.
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Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
This is a tough question. There are so many good artists here that I don't know where to begin. Rather than specific people, perhaps I would like to see a greater recognition for the infrastructure that supports the art community here in Denver. This means the great galleries we have (such as Space Gallery), but also important institutions like ASLD and Mo’Print. As Denver continues to grow, it is important that the art community grows with it.
Taiko Chandler’s work is currently on view in conjunction with Mo’Print 2018 at Space Gallery, 400 Santa Fe Drive, through April 7, and at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, through June 1. Attend a free reception for Pieces Together—Printed and Manipulated Surfaces and Objects at the Buell on Monday, March 12, from 5 to 8 p.m.