A lot’s been said, here and everywhere, about Democratic National Convention protests, parties and politics. But in the meantime, who’s minding the art?
Never mind the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs’s Dialog:City offerings that have been unfolding around town since Monday, or the dozens of DNC-inspired shows at local galleries: If you really want to see grassroots art about change, don’t miss Shepard Fairey’s temporary Manifest Hope Gallery, which flies the coop after Thursday, on its way to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis.
Fairey is a king among street artists best known for co-opting commercial billboards with his own artistic messages in the dead of night (here’s what he had to say about himself when we caught up with him in 2003), and the gallery is a physical representation of the artist’s oeuvre. He took over Andenken’s roomy loft to display his own work and that of such like-minded cohorts as Ron English, MAC, Gary Baseman, Sam Flores and others, alongside contest-winning entries submitted for a poster contest sponsored by MoveOn.org and a spate of local artists. The resulting show, one of the most bracing currently up in town, is only open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through August 28.
It includes some impressive large-scale images, including Ron English’s monumental “Abraham Obama” panels, Maya Hayuk’s Pop-Artish “Here and Now” installation, MAC’s powerful “Unity,” Boulder artist Scot Lefavor’s graphic “Change” series and Fairey’s own impressive works. But I also got a kick out of some of the smaller works, especially Lisa Auerbach’s hand-knitted sweater and skirt sets proclaiming “Yes We Can” or “Erin Go Barack” and Van Taylor Monroe’s “Yes We Can” sneakers. And some of the art is interactive, including an ongoing ceiling projection with changing messages on the theme of “When Obama wins...,” with a number given where you can text your own forecasts. Plus, you can get your hands on limited-edition everything, from posters and stickers to Obama knee socks, all for sale in the gallery shop.
By the way, if you’re hoping to nab tickets for Unconventional '08, tonight’s free street concert in front of the gallery with Silversun Pickups, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! and others, forget it. They’ve all been handed out, and the VIP show inside -- with Ben Gibbard, Jenny Lewis and other choice celebs -- is totally off limits to the uninvited. (While I was there, a suited, gray-haired man with neatly braided hair standing by a van in front of Andenken was heard to say, “I’ve got Spike Lee with me. And his wife.”) Sheesh. But the art is well worth a visit, and it’s also challenging to see how many of Fairey’s guerrilla installations you can spot while cruising around town. I’ve seen a few: An Obama w/Denver cityscape on the backside of the Ghost Building at 18th and Stout streets; plastered on a wall along north Broadway, near Firestone; and even a stone’s throw from our offices, near 10th Avnue and Broadway. Keep your eagle-eyes peeled, and don’t manhandle the art!
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