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Why Art Gym Will Give Arts and Community a Workout at Thursday's Opening

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You can find art all over town — not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.

You’re probably familiar with a typical gym — that sweaty place where members go to exercise with others on equipment they don’t have at home. The Art Gym is based on a similar concept — but instead of pumping iron, artists will exercise their creative disciplines using tools that they may not have at home or work, given cost and space restraints.

On Thursday, April 16, from 5 to 8 p.m., the Art Gym will make its Denver debut at 1460 Leyden Street with an opening reception for Why Art Gym, a multi-artist, multi-medium exhibition on display through May 2. The opening will include food and drinks from Matt McClusky of Foodie Call Catering and Glen Eastwood from The Abbey Tavern.

The show, which celebrates everything from sculpture and jewelry to digital photography, was curated by Elke McGuire with the goal of introducing the space to the public while thanking local artists who participated in focus groups that got the organization up and running, including Hillary Klemme, Carol Ann Waugh, Victoria Eubanks, Mark Lunning, Diena McDougald, Greg Friedler, Kathleen Sherman, Rik Sargent, Vickie Stevinson, David Garcia and Gov Landrum. McGuire is pretty sure the Art Gym is the first of its kind in the country. “I haven’t heard of other cities doing it like a gym,” she says. The idea came from a husband-wife team when one spouse encountered problems finding a printing machine. “That,” McGuire adds, “is the driving force behind this space.”

Operating out of an expansive, 17,000-square-foot building, the Art Gym provides common-use areas separated by disciplines: culinary, digital, drawing, metalsmithing, painting, performance, printmaking, sculpture and writing. A lithography press and a lapidary genie are examples of specialized equipment available to members, who will have daily access to the facility. Memberships will be open to seasoned and emerging artists who can demonstrate through an application and portfolio process that they are “grounded in their area of interest,” explains McGuire. Art Gym members will be invited to show their work in the gallery, and the facility might take on other groups, too, she adds.

With construction of the facility nearly complete, the Art Gym has begun opening in stages. During Thursday's opening, some spaces within the Art Gym – a snack bar and gallery, for example – will be open to the general public. A basic membership to the Art Gym includes a locker and access to member-only spaces, with open work surfaces in the area designated for the artist’s discipline, as well as meeting space and a resource library. Other spaces, equipment, supplies, exhibits and classes will be available to members for an additional fee. 

Interested artists can send their contact information to info@artgymdenver.com and check out The Art Gym’s website.  

Follow Jamie Siebrase on Twitter.

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