Art

Wheat-Pasting in Denver: Frank Kwiatkowski

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Kenzie Bruce
Frank Kwiatkowski, 44, has drawn since he was a child. In 1998, he took a linocut class in Denver. Linocut is a printmaking technique in which a sheet of linoleum is used for a relief surface; this is what led him to wheat-pasting. A self-described “looter,” he experimented with materials like mud flaps for the prints, which led him to trying a traffic cone as a transfer in 1999.
Denver has embraced street art. There are city grants that celebrate mural-making, intended to enrich communities and prevent graffiti. Crush Walls, RiNo's annual street-art festival, documents much of that neighborhood's street art for a year, going so far as to map out each mural or installation by intersection. With the rise in love for murals, where does that leave other, non-mural forms of street art?

Wheat-pasting, the act of using a liquid adhesive to put up artworks or posters, falls in that "other" category. The art form, largely popularized by such artists as Shepard Fairey, is accessible; the paste can be made at home, or wallpaper paste can be used. Wheat-pasting has roots in graffiti and often resides in the same gray area as that medium. Local artist Frank Kwiatkowski describes the process as "grittier" than other art forms, comparing the process to dark-room photography. Here's a look at his approach, the first in a series on wheat-pasting in Denver.