Monday, March 27, 2006

Third Friday in Denver

I have made a point of making sure I have my camera with me as I head around Denver. On several occasions over the past couple of years, I have wanted to photograph the various stages of progress on the new wing of the Denver Art Museum, but simply never did. Alas, I did manage to head downtown last Sunday morning, camera in hand and took several images of the addition, which is set to officially open in the fall. I will be posting those images as soon as possible.

Photographs, video by Emily Von Swearingen

Narrative projection by Emily Von Swearingen

Poetry, photo installation by Jake Adam York

On the previous Friday, March 17, I went over to an opening for "Between Words" an exhibit of photographs, and projections by Emily Von Swearingen and poetry by Jake Adam York at Ironton Studios. Ironton is located north and east of downtown, and it is a part of the newly branded arts district called RiNo. Still predominantly an industrial area, there have been various studios, and galleries migrating here for a couple of years.

I left Ironton, to catch an event at El Museo de Las Americas on Santa Fe. On the third Friday of each month during the current exhibit, "Never Leaving Aztlan," the museum hosts Lucha Libre. Meant to be a debate between two artists in a cage match atmosphere, the evening is divided into five "rounds" that allow the participants to discuss and show their own work, and field questions from the emcee and the audience on topics related to art, culture, and ethnicity. The concept of the series is good, and could prove to be entertaining and engaging. In practice, however, the participants of this evening were neither entertaining, engaging, or enlightening. This is really a performance, and for it to work, the participants must be prepared to perform. Instead they were a bit awkward, which could be understandable, but they could not stay on topic or keep their orations short. The evening was a bit painful, and even more boring. I was intrigued by the event, as it sounded somewhat similar to an idea I have been mulling over for a while back in Beacon. Sort of a friday night fights, pitting artists against one another with the prize being an exhibit of some form. Kind of like a match of creative King of the Hill. I left at the beginning of the fifth and final round, and headed up to the Highlands to check out the offerings at EDGE, and Pirate.

EDGE benefit exhibit

EDGE was presenting expressionistic abstract collage paintings by Susan Berkley in the first room, a benefit auction in the second room, and an airy installation of eggshells labled with text relating to entities of main stream culture by Hans Wolfe in the back room.

Sometime last fall, Pirate had contracted spatially, and donned a new store front entrance. Since then, an new coop called Next has opened on the corner, occupying space relinquished by Pirate. The face lift of the building lacks the edgy character it once had, and though not fully gentrified in appearance, it feels a bit tamed now. Pirate seemed to be having an opening that night, although it was somewhat quiet compared to past openings. Next door at Next, it seemed there was an open entry, or juried show that felt completely random. My impression was that this was their first or second show, and in the spirit of a housewarming they opened the door for participation to anyone who chose to do so. Fortunately, EDGE still carries its perpetual solid look of an indifferent fortress across the street from its neutered neighbors. The drawback to EDGE's appearance is that to the untrained eye, it can be difficult to discern whether it is open or not.

The first Friday of the month is the night that carries the most punch, currently, with crowded openings in the galleries lining Santa Fe Blvd. The crowd here is large, and young, and it's a definite scene. The Santa Fe district has been in assention since the late 90's whenI had my studio in the neighboring Golden Triangle district and they were just beginning to get organized. Since then a number of galleries and some studios have moved in, including Core and Spark, two long running co-ops that have moved in together in the space vacated some two years ago by Fresh Art. Being that it was not the first, but the third friday, there was not much going on save the match of wills over at the museo. The Santa Fe scene is definitely a big draw and it has diverted some attention from the likes of EDGE and Pirate which have been in their present location for a very long time now and are a bit like the old men on the hill. The challenge for Pirate, EDGE, along with Next, Zip 37, and the neighboring Bug theater is to convey a fresh currency when other young trendy scenes continue popping up in different parts of town.

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