Breaking News: There’s Art in Denver

All of us mile-high slack-jawed mouth breathers can rejoice: culture has finally reached our little Podunk burgh. As the front page of yesterday’s Denver Post declared, “Surreal world comes to Denver.” As Post fine arts critic Kyle MacMillan breathlessly reported, “Bubbling up from the street-smart subcultures of surfing, hip-hop and hot-rodding, a new art form has emerged.” And this movement, alternatively labeled urban contemporary art, pop-surrealism or 21st-century figurative art, isn’t just limited to the big, scary cities on the coasts, notes MacMillan: “It is spreading across the United States and can now be seen at the Limited Addiction Gallery, which opened in February on Santa Fe Drive.”

Stop the press! What news! There’s finally urban contemporary art in Denver! There’s only one problem with MacMillan’s article: such work has been around this town for a long, long time. While many are excited about Limited Addiction Gallery, the space follows in the footsteps of other local galleries that have embraced this artistic movement, such as Plastic Chapel, Andenken Gallery and Design, Capsule Gallery, Joy Engine in Boulder, and now-defunct facilities like Revoluciones Collective Art Space and DC Gallery.

MacMillan’s article also implies all this funky creativity is being supplied by out-of-towners. He mentions big shots in the national scene like Justin Bua and Christian Strike, but fails to note a single Colorado artist dabbling in urban contemporary art. That’s a major oversight, a slight to local talent including Ray Young Chu (whose work is pictured to the right), Markham Maes, Scot Lefavor, Jason Thielke, Matthew Doubek, Evan Hecox, and the late Brandon Borchert, among others.

“It’s a shame that the locals who have been doing all this work for years aren’t included in the article, and while I think Limited Addiction is an awesome addition to the scene, it’s a shame the galleries that have been showing this work before Limited Addiction haven’t been given any credit,” says local artist and gallery owner Lauri Lynnxe Murphy.

The Denver Post acting like Denver doesn’t have an urban-art scene? Talk about surreal. – Joel Warner

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner