DADA Art Bar occupies a prime corner of Denver. This space at 2470 Broadway used to be in the middle of nowhere -- dada, indeed! -- but these days the Ballpark neighborhood is popping. After months of meticulous planning by Ian Chisholm, who also owns Amerigo right around the corner, Denver will soon have a new place to guzzle drinks and check out an emerging art scene. This Friday was supposed to mark the opening of DADA, but thanks to a paperwork mix-up with the city, DADA's official debut has been pushed to the following week. But the show will go on with a private party this weekend, featuring psychedelic pop artists who are eager to be the first to display art in the brand-new space.
High Fructose Porn Syrup, a local art collective, will be the first to showcase at DADA; the group plans to set the bar high with its first presentation, Infinite Illusions. "We've been busting ass to get ready," says Maximillian Schiffman, one of three members of the collective.
Whether these three are hustling their art in the parking lot at Red Rocks or creating posters for their friend's band, they're itching to get the show started at DADA. Despite the delay of opening their spirits remain high and they still plan to deal their art streetstyle. "The Rockies opening game is April 4," says Schiffman, "and the area promises to be busy, and we plan to draw attention to the show that will be hanging behind locked doors, and sell our artwork at sidewalk prices."
Their psychedelic style represents connectivity to identity in the vast continuum that is life. "I call it psychedelic pop," says Schiffman. "Pictures within pictures. Like this mantis is made up of bird skulls, baby toes and elephants. The elephants' part of this baby's butt, and they're both twins in the mantis. So the idea in the art is that life is infinitely connected. That ties into the problem of identity: If I am who I am today, will I be who I am tomorrow and beyond that?"
Chisholm hopes DADA can serve as a place to showcase unknown artists working in all mediums while also serving up drinks to passersby and entertain patrons of Amerigo, his restaurant just a few doors over. "Amerigo is so small, every weekend we're turning people away because there's an hour wait," he says. "So the idea is to get them to come over here, have a drink, have a cheese plate -- and we'll call you when your table's ready."
For DADA, no art is off limits. Not only does Chisholm plan to hang art here, but he also wants to host live performances and create a film series in conjunction with the Denver Film Society. "We're just trying to get as many local artists to show here as possible," he says. "Basically, nothing is off limits. We're game to make it a platform for everybody, and it will evolve and take shape however it takes shape."
High Fructose Porn Syrup's art is very distinct, colorful and downright trippy. While mostly made digitally, it has a handcrafted aesthetic. The artists play with glow-in-the-dark inks, 3D and dye sublimation. And the artists' eyes lit up while looking at the barren, unfinished walls at DADA, thinking of the possible places to hang their vast array of paintings, giant banners and blankets. They, too, are interested in performance art.
While the members of this DIY collective all have day jobs, they hope exposure at DADA can help get their collective off the ground. They look forward to building up a community around DADA, and getting their foot in the door of the RINO scene. And since their pieces will sell for anywhere from a dollar to $500, collective member Thai Massey says, "Tell me a good joke, and you get to take home some art."
The artists promise that the art-show kickoff on Thursday, April 3 will not be a stiff, stand- around-and-look-at-art-on-a-wall event, but a giant party, complete with music and a Grand Art Battle. "We feel really fortunate to be the first artists here and we want to make a stamp on being the first artists here," says Massey. "We want to fill up the place and make our mark here, hopefully be invited again, and set the bar."