Meet Mar Williams, 2016 Westword MasterMind

In 2005 Westword introduced the MasterMind awards, honoring the artists and arts organizations that were changing the cultural landscape of Denver. Since then, we've awarded more than $150,000 to 55 MasterMinds — and we'll be celebrating our twelfth creative class at Artopia 2016 tonight.

Meet Mar Williams, 2016 MasterMind.

From this home's balcony, Williams can see South Broadway, pretty much the focus of Williams's life since leaving the Denver suburbs after high school. It’s a place where things come together — interesting businesses, the music scene, the arts. Williams founded the Concoctory, a hackerspace with a focus on artistic endeavors, on South Broadway, and now is a co-conspirator with three others at Cabal Gallery in the same space.

“The community around South Broadway is just huge, interconnected,” Williams says. There are connections between work and art, too: Williams works for Defcon, the largest underground hacking convention, which would seem very left-brained — but then there's all that art, inevitably involving the emotions. “The places where this comes together forms all these new ideas,” Williams says, “and creativity is spawned out of those things coming together.”

Williams is currently a creative-in-residence at the Denver Art Museum, working on an interactive installation examining the connection between technology, art and individual identity. But Williams won’t be leaving behind that favorite part of town, a perfect place to make art, mischief...and magic.  Keep reading for more from Mar Williams, a 2016 MasterMind.

Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?

Right this moment, the collaborators I'm currently working with on the DAM project including Don Bailey, who's putting a massive amount of energy and thought into designing custom tech for it.

Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?

A scribbly drawing on my desk of a creature vomiting up a sock.

What's one art trend you want to see die this year?

I don't want to see things die. The things I'm not interested in aren't for me. And the things that piss me off probably are and I just haven't figured out why yet.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?

I'd make things and take things apart in no particular order.

I'd build an insanely over-engineered pillow fort for my kid.

I'd fund a bio hacking lab and play with meat.

I'd take some time to learn things I don't immediately have a practical application for.

I'd buy a couple big-tech companies at random to release their IP and see what happens.

I'd think about a lifetime being way too long to have unlimited money and get horribly insecure at what kind of person that immersion would make me.

Maybe I'd just spend too much time thinking about hypothetical questions.

Denver (or Colorado), love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?

Love. Cabal Gallery keeps me here. South Broadway keeps me here. The business owners, musicians and artists along this street are people I call friends.

What brought you here?

My family initially. But I've been in and around Denver since I was a kid.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

The amazingly supportive and talented artists I get to work with at Cabal: Joshua Finley, Jesse Frasier (FAIM Worldwide), and Patrick McGirr (Girr). Any of the talented artists working their asses off in bars and coffee shops around town.

What's on your agenda in the coming year?

Solve problems that don't need solving, misunderstand as much as possible, teach my daughter to ride a skateboard, yell about things with paint.

Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?

I'd hope places where the art is valued, but refuses to take itself too seriously.

I'd like to see more art recognized in hackerspaces. Attention seems weighted towards products, devices, tools that come out of them. I'd like to see more support in that scene for less directed making of things, more playfulness, more thermite.

Find out more about Cabal Gallery here, and see more of Mar Williams's art here.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun