Visual Arts

Black Cube, a Nomadic Contemporary Art Museum, Will Hit the Road in Year Two

In its first year of operation, Black Cube, a nomadic contemporary art museum, brought Denver a giant inflatable monument, live cinema and a sculpture that questioned the city’s aesthetics. As Black Cube gears up for year two with a new class of artist fellows, Cortney Stell, Black Cube executive director and chief curator, took a few minutes to reflect on the success of the various pop-up exhibits and talk about the events ahead.

“I think the launch of Black Cube went really well, but it was just a little condensed for us,” Stell says. “Three pop-ups in three months was a little too quick of a turnover, and that’s a lesson I learned. This year, since it’s our first year that the organization is running in full, we’re trying to space things out a little more. We’re going to have our first pop-up of 2016 in March.”

Stell plans to experiment with a variety of things this year, including taking the project outside of Denver; artist fellow Stephanie Kantor will create large-scale ceramics for Black Cube’s 2016 debut traveling pop-up exhibit in San Antonio. Stell says that one of the major problems she encountered in 2015 was finding sites for her artist fellows. She became so desperate hunting for a spot for Derrick Velasquez's installation that she ended up driving up and down the streets of Stapleton, looking for large buildings.

“Stephanie wants to do a domestic installation, and we came up with the idea of using a house, and she would take it over with her artwork,” Stell says. “I was talking to different places to rent houses in Capitol Hill and was even considering reaching out to the Molly Brown House when Contemporary Art Month San Antonio reached out to me with a house space.”

Contemporary Art Month San Antonio is a monthlong event celebrating artists, performers and curators, and the organizers were interested in collaborating with Black Cube. The CAM site is donated and right in line with Kantor’s work, Stell says, and it feels like it just “fell into her lap.”

In addition to taking Black Cube on the road, Stell is experimenting with using destination sites in Colorado, including the mining town of Gold Hill, as well as working with an outside curator, Laurie Britton Newell. Since the Black Cube artist-selection process is curatorial, Stell says she wanted to bring in a diversity of voices and have an additional curator select three of the six artists.

“Working with Laurie is super-exciting because she came to us after curating in design at the Victoria Albert Museum in London,” Stell says. “She moved out to Colorado and was looking for more project-based curating. I thought she would be interesting to engage with because she hasn’t organized exhibitions out here and is really well known and has a great institutional history.”

While Stell is excited about her upcoming “experiments” with Black Cube, she's very aware of both the practical and the conceptual challenges, especially in taking the project outside of Colorado.

“When I was first thinking about moving Black Cube, I was wondering if I was bringing a foreign invasion to a city,” Stell says of the Kantor pop-up in San Antonio. “I started thinking about how I’d be able to tap into the art culture there and institutions, and it’s a daunting task. Once Contemporary Art Month San Antonio reached out to me for this partnership, I went down there and met the community and did studio visits. I think I found a couple of interesting artists to bring to Denver as a sort of artist exchange.”

Stell is also working with the 2015 class of artist fellows on alumni projects, and plans to commission online artwork for the Black Cube website. To see the list of the 2016 Black Cube artist fellows or learn more about Black Cube's upcoming exhibits, visit