A 24-foot box truck will be parked on South Broadway, between West Second and Third Avenues, during the Underground Music Showcase this weekend. The truck will display artworks from more than thirty artists, at a pop-up exhibit dubbed Sex Drugs Rock & Roll. The pieces will sell for $200 or less.
The exhibit is hosted by Hey Hue, an art agency launched in May to promote artist entrepreneurship and art collecting. Founder Deanne Gertner has more than a decade of experience supporting artists in Denver.
“I believe artists are the shamans, luminaries and truth-tellers of our times. I cherish each and every artist and gallery and curator and arts worker I’ve had the grace to meet and work with,” Gertner says. “Art is the closest thing we have to being inside someone else’s mind and experience. Artists connect us to each other and ourselves.”
She started Hey Hue not only for artists, but for herself, after she was let go from an arts consulting firm earlier this year.
“After I lost my job earlier this year, my confidence took a huge hit. I wanted to prove to myself and the Denver arts community that I could not only recover from the blow, but thrive,” Gertner says. “I’ve always worked for someone else, and I wanted to see if I had the wits, stamina and gall to create something of my own.”
Sex Drugs Rock & Roll is Hey Hue’s first art show. Gertner wanted to have an exhibit that could clearly address #MeToo, the intense political climate, the rise of legal drugs and the flourishing Denver music scene. Gertner hopes that by aligning her show with UMS, she will create synergy between the festival audience, musicians and content from her exhibit.
Artists exhibiting their work at Sex Drugs Rock & Roll include Katy Batsel, Amber Cobb, Johnny DeFeo, Jonathan Saiz, Mario Zoots, Paul Keefe, Erica Podwoiski, Cory Feder and Lares Feliciano.
“This is the first time working with Deanne, and so far it has gone well,” Keefe says. “She has put together a great group of artists and provided a unique venue to show their work.”
Keefe describes his artistic style as illustrative with a strong sense of humor. He says he has new paintings displayed at the exhibit, mainly photocopies of little marijuana plants in the shape of Auguste Rodin’s "The Thinker" printed onto canvases.
“I think if you are able to find the beauty in ordinary objects and the humor in unfortunate situations,” Keefe says, “you will appreciate life more.”
Gertner is also displaying her work in the exhibit. Her piece, "Things Men Said to Me," has four pairs of small Tommy Hilfiger men’s underwear. Each pair has a phrase sewn on the crotch: “No Wonder You’re Depressed,” “Cock Sucker,” “You Are Painful to Love” and “Dumb Cunt.” These phrases were said to Gertner by strangers, a Bumble date and a former boyfriend.
“For a long time I let these phrases, and therefore these men, have power over me and my sense of self. I decided to take my agency back,” Gertner says. “Stitching the words into the crotch of the briefs is an act of subversion. I take the historically feminine craft of sewing and turn it into a weapon of sorts to render the utility of the underwear useless.
“The words take on a different context by being on the crotch of men’s underwear,” she adds. “It’s almost as if the phrases are written to or about the penis.”
One of Hey Hue's goals with the show is to make purchasing artwork something everyday people — not just monied collectors — can afford.
“I want to eradicate the notion that art collecting is only for the wealthy and encourage people to support living artists by purchasing original art,” Gertner says. She wants to “expand Denver’s art-collecting base, help artists thrive financially and create art programming in unexpected and unusual places.”
Hey Hue's Sex Drugs Rock & Roll exhibit, 6 to 10 p.m. July 27; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., July 29, South Broadway, between West Second and West Third avenues.
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