The Soft Museum is an artist co-lab and design studio located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, founded by Autumn Dawn Gomez and Nicholas Salazar, with the support of fellow artisan Max Sanders. They have been friends for nearly 15 years thanks to their shared love of nature, music, video games, comics, fantasy, and their equally matched creative energies. Autumn, who is Comanche/Taos Pueblo/Navajo, and Nic, who moved throughout the western coastal regions and Hawaiian Islands before his family settled in Santa Fe, both earned their BFAs from the Institute of American Indian Arts. While proficient in almost any artistic media, it was a basic set of Hama Beads that crystallized the trio’s “vision of being children in adult worlds” into a unique and highly marketable DIY brand.
Photo by Jane Phillips, The Santa Fe New Mexican
The tiny Hama beads are arranged on a grid and then fused together with applied heat. The result is a lightweight yet sturdy plastic pendant with the signature 8-bit graphic appearance, which is central to The Soft Museum aesthetic. These pendants are then attached to necklaces, earrings, hair clips, etc. and become SoftWear.
Nic’s sister, Sara, models “Wordplay” chest piece and “Alma” mask
Autumn and Nic gave these items to friends and family, sold them at arts & crafts fairs, mailed them to artists and musicians they admire, and did tons of promotion online. It wasn’t long until people like Dirty Bird Records honcho Claude Von Stroke, DJ group The Glitch Mob, and underground rappers Jean Grae and The Big Dipper are sporting SoftWear at shows and giving #shoutouts to The Soft Museum on social media. Having people you admire as fans of your work is an amazing feeling, but the greatest honor came when The Soft Museum was selected to represent Native arts and culture through a major company.
In 2012 the brand known as Paul Frank came under fire for hosting a party with an “Indian” theme, complete with neon warpaint, feather headdresses, and tomahawk props. There was a major uproar in the media and the folks at PF removed online photos of the event and issued a formal apology. They also consulted with members of the Native community to review their entire inventory and removed any item deemed culturally inappropriate. The company then decided to release a line of accessories designed exclusively by Native artists, which is when they reached out to Autumn Gomez.
Autumn created a line that included bracelets, pendants, and crowns. She states:
“This partnership allowed for this group of artists to share Native American historical legacies of creativity and tradition, while also blending the fun and colorful aesthetic that is Paul Frank. For this project, I created Hama Bead jewelry using a bold and neon palette combined with strong elements of geometry to create 5 different nature scenes - each captured in the silhouette of Paul Frank’s mascot, Julius. Each design is based on a landscape that I feel close to. I know that basing my concept on nature may sound cliché, but when done in classic Soft Museum style, it becomes very vivid and almost ultra modern. The result suggests neon video game backgrounds from the early ‘90s paired with the bold geometry of Southern Plains beadwork.”
This sums up what The Soft Museum style and mission is all about: combining traditional artist methods with contemporary crafts, achieving balance with nature and technology, and uniting indigenous and mainstream cultures through creative ingenuity.
Since the release of the Paul Frank line, Autumn, Nic, and Max have continued to work on building the SM brand and explore new creative pursuits.
Recently Autumn has been re-purposing scraps of fabric and thrift store finds into handmade fashions that express her love of meaningful design and content. The act of recycling clothes for the sake of avoiding poor corporate business ethics and creating designs that are both wearable and posses a social message has strong connections to her Native heritage. “By using recycled materials I want to encourage others to think about where and how clothing is made as well as the fact that true individuality simply can’t be mass manufactured. … As an indigenous woman I see content and craftwork as a way for my one of a kind designs to speak realistically about my time here on earth.”
Nic with wall stickers and T-shirt of his own designs
Nic graduated with his BFA in illustration in May and has exhibited his own work at numerous venues in Santa Fe like the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts and the annual Armory Show at the Center for Contemporary Arts. The work of comic artists and illustrators like Junko Mizuno, Jack Kirby, and Jaime Hernandez are big influences on Nic’s artistic style, but his subject matter remains personal: “The content in my work often serves as metaphors for my experiences with asthma, food addiction, spirituality, and emotions. My work is more of a personal commentary rather than political or media inspired.” He has also been creating his own fashion wear and manifesting opportunities to show his work in galleries and boutiques on an international level.
Max has developed into a toy design extraordinaire, and has had his custom creations shown twice at Toy Art Gallery in Los Angeles, once in conjunction with the Paul Frank line and another time for BLAMO Toys. The toys allow him to explore his infatuation with “other worldly beauty and extraterrestrial cuteness.” He’s also quite the crochet master, and makes sweet little creatures that are cuddlier than their rhinestone encrusted counterparts.
While each of these artists have their own talents, their imaginations and output grows exponentially when they combine forces as The Soft Museum. The focus on youth culture and the child’s gaze helps spread their message of cultural awareness and unity to a young generation grappling with complex social issues. “It’s been a blessing to showcase our work to a broader audience,” Nic says. “Since then many people have told us that we have inspired them in some way or another. It is amazing to hear such words ~ I believe that by example and hard work you can inspire others to follow their dreams whatever they may be, even if you start from nothing.”
The Soft Museum has plans to move more toward the world of fashion/apparel. Models Cameron Russell and Chloe Nørgaard are already fans, which shouldn’t hurt when it comes to spreading the word about this up-and-coming style house from the future. Projects in graphic design, animation, music, video production and set design, toy creations, and custom commission work are also on the radar. The Soft Museum sees no limit to their creativity, and with all their originality, hard work, and growing fan base, there is no limit to their success either.
Visit www.thesoftmuseum.com to see more from this up-and-coming collaborative and purchase your own SoftWear. Purchases can also be made from Beyond Buckskin.
Special Projects Coordinator
Wade Guyton “Untitled” 2010 Epson UltraChrome inkjet on linen 84 x 69 inches 213.4 x 175.3 cm Photo credit: Lamay Photo.
"Thus his large abstract works are both beautiful objects and tongue-in-cheek jokes made at the expense of the supposed advances of the 21st century."
-David Everitt Howe, "Sublime Errors: Wade Guyton’s Imperfect Paintings"
Robin Rule at Dikeou Collection, photo by Mary Barone
The benefit of a mid-sized city like Denver is that it is easy for members of the art community to bind together and become a small yet mighty army of people who support one another’s endeavors. The downside, though, is that the loss of just one crucial player can have a distressing effect on the rest of the team. With the passing of Robin Rule last December, founder and owner of RULE Gallery, the local art community proves that it can pull together and continue an important legacy in spite of death and mourning.
Robin Rule entered the Denver art scene in 1987, and quickly established herself as a woman with great enthusiasm, taste, and straightforward honesty. She opened RULE Gallery in 1992, which became recognized for its psychologically inquisitive stable of artists and cohesively curated exhibitions, which were often inspired by dreams Robin had. Her keen eye and candid point of view helped artists harness and refine their work. Perhaps one of the reasons artists valued her opinion so much is because she lived much like them – a frugal life fueled by a passion for sharing meaningful art and connections. It is for these reasons, and certainly many others, that her absence has been sorely felt in the city.
The decision to continue the gallery or not was not an easy one for Robin’s family or staff to make. There wasn’t even a physical space for the gallery at the time, but it was the artists who made the push to keep things moving forward. Valerie Santerli took on the role of Director, and is supported by her colleagues Rachel Beitz and Hilary Morris. RULE Gallery is now settled into a permanent location in Denver’s River North (RiNo) Art District, which has grown into a thriving area in recent years. I had the opportunity to exchange a few emails with Valerie and meet her in the new space to learn what it’s been like to carry on without the gallery’s namesake.
Valerie and Robin met in 2006 through a collaborative curatorial project. Robin offered her a job on the day they met, but it wasn’t until a few months later, at a reception at Dikeou Collection, that she accepted. Robin became an invaluable mentor and friend to Valerie, and she believes in carrying Robin’s values in the gallery today.
Valerie Santerli pulls two works by Nathan Abels from the flat files.
Prior to moving into the current location, RULE opened a pop-up exhibition featuring the work of Nathan Abels at the Hinterland gallery space, and during that time a permanent space in the same building became available.
Convenience aside, the space is ideal because it shares certain qualities with previous RULE Gallery locations (there were 3 last time I counted). It is a single room with high ceilings and immaculate floors and walls. The spartan environment allows for that trademark cohesiveness in curation to shine, and as Valerie describes, distills the visitor experience into one purely based on looking and absorbing.
The current exhibition, (in parentheses), features minimalist paintings and sculpture by Joseph Coniff, an artist who gained representation from RULE Gallery when he was barely out of college. He first exhibited with Robin in 2010 in a show called 4.0, which included recent art school graduates, as well as current students. It was the first commercial exhibition for these artists, and they have since become dedicated to their studio practices and exhibit their work regularly.
Joseph says that first exhibition served as a springboard for his transition out of art school, and that Robin continued to offer her knowledge and honesty for the benefit of his artistic development. Joseph recalled a day when he dropped by the gallery to show her some new prints for an upcoming exhibition. Her reaction: “I don’t like them…Art can be good, but not good for the gallery.” As much as it may sting, this is probably the greatest and hardest lesson an artist has to learn.
His current work of tri-color canvases and delicate grid work demonstrate a high level of restraint and personal understanding that takes most artists decades to develop. The sculpture “Post Lantern” shares these traits, but adds some humor to the mix.
Coniff doesn’t have complete reign over the gallery’s walls, though. Hung up high near the ceiling is a portrait of Robin from when she was a child, painted by Rosie Fisher, a friend of her mother. This memento reminds all who enter the gallery of the individual who started it all. Not everyone will recognize the portrait or understand why it’s there, but it will certainly bring lots of smiles and questions about the story of who this cheerful looking girl is and why she watches from above.
Valerie expressed that it still doesn’t feel like she is working without Robin, and that her wisdom still pervades. Robin believed in the power of collaboration, and that it is better to combine forces rather than divide. The initial pop-up exhibition at Hinterland is a testament to this idea, which they intend to build upon further. RULE’s next exhibition is a collaborative Pop-Up Project with the Carmen Wiedenhoeft Gallery, which will have two solo exhibitions. RULE Gallery will present Overlook, a series of paintings and drawings by artist Nina Elder in the back gallery while Carmen will present Imposition, new photographs by Evan Anderman in the front space. Both shows/artists address the contemporary Western Landscape using different mediums but with a unified perspective depicting man’s influence on the land.
“Goddess,” by Dale Chisman (1943-2008), given to Robin on her birthday in 1990
Although I never had the opportunity to meet Robin, I feel her enthusiasm for life and art come through when the people who knew her talk about her. She touched many lives and helped shaped Denver’s art scene into what it is today, and with the continuation of the gallery her vision and sensibilities are sure to carry on.
(in parentheses) is on view through October 5, 2014 at RULE Gallery, 3254 Walnut St, Denver, CO 80205. Normal hours are Tuesday - Saturday 12 - 6p but the gallery will be closed August 29 - September 2 for the Holiday. The gallery will be open extra hours for First Friday, September 5 from 6-9pm.
The joint pop-up exhibition will open Friday September 12, from 6-9pm at the Carmen Wiedenhoeft Gallery located at 3542 Walnut St in RiNo and will remain on view through October 18, 2014. A free artist talk with Nina Elder and Evan Anderman will take place on Saturday, September 27 at 2pm.
Special Projects Coordinator
Game Changer, an exhibition curated by Ruth Bruno and Cortney Lane Stell, opened July 17th at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. According to the exhibition statement, Game Changer aims to “examine artists’ relations to the aesthetics, rules, and cultural significance of competitive sports. … While addressing various components of sports, the works in Game Changer illuminate the potential of art to foster many different types of critical contemplation.” The show features twelve artists from around the world, including Devon Dikeou, a sports aficionado whose knowledge and appreciation of athletic competition permeates several works in her oeuvre.
The large open space, high ceilings, and hardwood floors of BMoCA’s main gallery has always reminded me of a gymnasium, making it a fitting arena for a sports-themed exhibition. Artist Ana Soler’s “Starting Point: Causa-Effecto” activates the space and the audience experience at the front entrance of the museum. With multiple tennis rackets suspended to mimic the movement of someone swinging and hitting the ball, which travels throughout the museum in a state of suspended animation, the piece celebrates the kinetic aspect of sports and prompts visitors to get in the game. The tennis balls bounce in front of Denver artist Phil Bender’s “Soccer Jerseys” and reach the next crescendo before disappearing at the entrance of the next room, only to reappear on the second floor in frozen bounce frenzy.
Alejandro Almanza Pereda’s “Veinte y uno exquisito” does very well at affirming my gym comparison. A basketball begs to be dribbled across the pale wood floors and dunked into the basket overhead. However, doing so would cause some bodily injury and probably a lawsuit or two considering the hoop and backboard are made of a vintage mirror and neon lights.
It’s best to save the MJ impression for the court in your driveway.
There are other works like Pereda’s that appear as an invitation for play, only to prove their uselessness when the participant actually tries to accept that invitation. David Andamo’s “Untitled (Ping Pong)” paddles have holes and are made of heavy bronze, and Brett Kashmere’s “Anything But Us Is Who We Are” involves a NBA 2K10 videogame with LeBron James that cannot be played because there is no controller. Actually many of the artworks are comprised of materials that are meant to be touched, worn, or played with. Putting these objects in the context of a museum, where “do not touch” is still the standard, gives the viewer that itch to dig out their own favorite jerseys and enjoy the sports they love. However, Devon Dikeou’s piece reminds viewers of the intangible reasons why our culture is so obsessed with athleticism and competition, which stems from the hearts and souls of the athletes themselves.
Dikeou’s five black and white photographs are part of a larger installation titled “Marilyn Monroe Wanted to be Buried in Pucci,” and were originally exhibited at the Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia in 2009. This work reflects on the relationship between the iconic actress and baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, and how that relationship, along with their fame, endured in life and in death. The photos depict an American flag at half-mast in New York City, and were shot by the artist on March 8, 1999, the day DiMaggio died.
The images, though somber, speak volumes about everything Americans treasured about DiMaggio beyond the playing field. He was one of the most idolized figures in American culture yet retained his sense of modesty, a quality Hemmingway surmised best when he penned, “’I would like to take the great DiMaggio fishing,’ the old man said. ‘They say his father was a fisherman. Maybe he was as poor as we are and would understand.’”
Game Changer is on view at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art until September 14, 2014.
Special Projects Coordinator
With the DVD release of El Topo (1970) and its successor, The Holy Mountain (1973), in 2006 and 2007, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s heady and often unsettling filmic visions were finally available to permeate the sheltered minds of a new generation. Although his first film Fando y Lis (1968) and later work Santa Sangre (1989) had been available to the public on VHS and DVD, they did not have the same intense cult following as El Topo and The Holy Mountain. With the reintroduction of Jodorowsky’s name and work into millennial pop culture, the time was right for him to return to the big screen with new stories to tell.
In 2013 Jodorowsky had the benefit of a double booking at the Cannes Film Festival, which featured the premiers of Jodorowsky’s Dune and The Dance of Reality. Jodorowsky’s Dune is a documentary directed by Frank Pavich that tells the story of “the greatest film never made,” and features interviews with Jodorowsky and other individuals involved in the pre-production stages of the sci-fi film interpretation. The Dance of Reality is based off Jodorowsky’s autobiography of the same title. It is interesting that both of these films share a relationship with books, contain elements of biography, and were released at the same time. I hardly consider myself an expert on this artist, but I have a hunch he had this whole sequence planned out in his head many years ago.
In assembling his cast and production team for Dune, Jodorowsky sought one specific quality – a warrior spirit. There are several instances when he refers to himself as a god (in the least egotistical way a person can), and even called the Dune project a creation of god. Therefore, anyone involved in the film had to be willing to make significant sacrifices to their minds, bodies, and spirits.
Concept illustration for Dune by Dan O’Bannon
Dan O’Bannon, the man tasked with special effects, had to commit himself to psychiatric treatment when the film never got picked up for production. It was during this dark time that he wrote the screenplay for Alien. Symbolic resurrection at its finest.
Character illustration for “Paul” by Jean Giraud aka Moebius
The person who most embodied this warrior spirit was Jodorowsky’s 10-year-old son Brontis, who was set to play the lead role of “Paul.” For two years Brontis trained every day for 5 hours a day in mixed martial arts to prepare for the physical and mental demands of the role. His preparations never came to fruition.
Alejandro and Brontis in El Topo; Brontis as “Jaime” and Jeremías as “Alejandro” in The Dance of Reality
It is apparent that Alejandro cultivated the warrior spirit in Brontis at an early age, considering he played the son of the main character (played by Alejandro) in El Topo and was shooting guns naked in the desert at 6 years old. His unorthodox introduction to film and the defeat of Dune did not hinder Brontis from pursuing a very full career in acting and directing for cinema and stage. He stars in The Dance of Reality, playing the role of his own grandfather, Jaime. His presence on screen is intense, showing that this man has fully become the warrior his father always wanted him to be. Brontis’ own son Jeremías plays Alejandro as a child, and Alejandro appears in the film as an angel-like being that consoles his young self in times of fear and confusion.
Three generations of the Jodorowsky clan acting out the harsh realities and epic fantasies that permeate their bloodlines is amazing to see play out on the movie screen, and was meant to be a cathartic and bonding exercise for all involved. It is important to note that Alejandro is a practitioner of psychomagic and psychogenealogy, and that The Dance of Reality is the cinematic manifestation of these beliefs. According to Alejandro’s biography , “Psychomagic aims to heal psychological wounds suffered in life. This therapy is based on the belief that the performance of certain acts can directly act upon the unconscious mind, releasing it from a series of traumas, some of which practitioners of the therapy believe are passed down from generation to generation. Psychogenealogy includes the studying of the patient’s personality and family tree in order to best address their specific sources.” I encourage others to familiarize themselves with Alejandro’s biography because it provides insights to important themes in the film that may otherwise go unnoticed and will enhance one’s appreciation for the narrative.
Even though Jodorowsky’s Dune and The Dance of Reality are two completely different types of film, they maintain a dialogue with one another and I enjoyed picking up on the areas of overlap. The Dune documentary was a great primmer to The Dance of Reality, as it explains Jodorowsky’s approach to filmmaking and his current attitudes toward his past and future projects. The strongest connection between the two films is the god-like mentality Jodorowsky describes in the Dune documentary and how it flows throughout The Dance of Reality, particularly in the Father/Son/Holy Spirit trinity he creates with himself, his son, and his grandson. The notion that art imitates life is extremely potent in Alejandro’s world, as his successes and setbacks exemplify the cycle of creation, sacrifice, and rebirth.
Special Projects Coordinator
On June 7th families came to the Dikeou Collection to make storyboard collages insprired by artist Luis Macias’ “A Fine Monday Morning”’
Our Family Saturday Workshops take place on the first Saturday of the month for the rest of the summer. The Workshops, along with all other events at Dikeou Collection, are free and open to the public. Join us for our next workshop on July 12 as we explore concepts of “anti-painting” and negative space as used by Dikeou artist, Sarah Staton. "Like" Dikeou Collection on Facebook to keep up with all our monthly events!
On August 9, 2014, the Aspen Art Museum (AAM) will open its doors to the public for the first time on the corner of Hyman Avenue and Spring Street. After 35 years occupying a former hydroelectric plant, this contemporary, non-collecting art museum is making a big move just a half mile away. Rather than reappropriate another structure, the new Aspen Art Museum has been completely redesigned and built from the ground up.
Current home of the Aspen Art Museum. Image courtesy of the Aspen Art Museum.
The museum’s present building on North Mill Avenue was originally constructed in 1888. It is a local historic landmark that cannot be torn down or remodeled, which means there is no room for growth. The time came to enlarge the museum to accommodate more exhibitions and expand programming, as well as relocate to a more centralized and visible area in town.
Shigeru Ban, a Japanese architect known for his humanitarian projects using non-traditional, recyclable materials, was unanimously chosen in fall 2007 by an AAM Architect Selection Committee to design the new museum. Ban has been recognized internationally for his beautiful, environmentally sustainable, and charitable constructions for decades, but his recent award of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the highest honor bestowed upon a living architect, has done much to boost his profile to the public at large. This is a huge boost for AAM’s ever-growing profile as well, especially because this will be Ban’s first permanent museum in the United States.
Blueprints and visual diagrams of Shigeru Ban’s design for the new Aspen Art Museum inside the Turner Construction offices.
I had the privilege to take a hard-hat tour of the new building with AAM’s Nancy and Bob Magoon CEO and Director, Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, along with AAM Project Manager, Mike O’Connor. With only a little over a month to go before the completion date (exhibition installation begins in mid-July), the site was a hotbed of activity with teams of construction workers occupying every nook and cranny of the three-story building and rooftop.
Model of new Aspen Art Museum. Photo by Tony Prikryl, courtesy of Aspen Art Museum.
There are five main architectural elements that define this structure:
1. The Grand Staircase, which dominates the east side of the building
2. The “moving room” also known as the Glass Reception Elevator in the northeast corner that gives passengers views of the inside and outside of the building
3. The wooden screen that wraps and weaves over the exterior on the north and east sides
4. The undulating wooden structure that partially covers the rooftop terrace
5. “Walkable” skylights on the roof and lower skylights in the galleries that allow people to see through part of the floor
Construction taking place in the museum on May 23, 2014
We entered the site on the south side, ground level, which is where two galleries, an education space, visitor services, bookstore, and on-site artist apartment/studio will be located. The second floor will have the largest gallery space and lounge area, a library, and the administrative offices and board room.
The third level has a café and allows for rooftop access to the sculpture garden. These wavy trusses, which do not require metal joints, support the roof and partially cover the rooftop garden.
There is a floor below ground, too, which will contain two more gallery spaces, the Black box theater, a room for art preparation and conservation, and storage. The image above is a view of the stairs that lead from the lower level to the street level.
View of the Grand Staircase from Spring Street
Integrating the building and the visitor experience with the natural environment is key to Shigeru Ban’s design. For example, the Grand Staircase, which will be enveloped in the screen façade, allows visitors to “climb” to the upper levels and catch views of the town and mountainous landscape outside.
This is the only public rooftop in Aspen and offers fantastic views of Ajax Mountain.
Visitors can take the glass elevator on their “descent” back down the structure, an act that Ban has loosely compared to skiing and snowboarding. In fact the highlight of my visit was being able to ride the elevator with Heidi and Mike the first time it had been officially used. The movement of the elevator will be visible from outside the building, something that will catch the eye of those passing by on the street. The woven façade had not been mounted yet, so I had a clear view of everything gliding up and down outside rather than a “peek-through-the-trees” kind of view I imagine once it is installed.
View of the Grand Staircase from the glass elevator. Platforms will be integrated along the stairs for the display of three-dimensional objects.
I mentioned to Heidi how there is an implied sense of ascending and descending the structure like a mountain. She replied with an anecdote that Ban shared with her in regard to this idea. According to Ban, if a man were to encounter a pebble on his path, the decision to either move the pebble and continue or leave the pebble and change the direction of his path depends very much on his cultural mindset. In America, where people will go wherever they darn-well please, most would likely kick the pebble out of the way. In other words, it is impossible to dictate a person’s trajectory within a museum environment. I thought this was an interesting perspective, one that flows with the AAM’s mission to have the artwork be the focus of the experience and guide visitors rather than have the architecture determine the journey.
Architectural rendering of the third level with rooftop. Image courtesy of the Aspen Art Museum and Shigeru Ban Architects.
AAM’s status as a non-collecting institution is a significant aspect to its mission, and is one that will be enhanced with the opening of the new building. I asked Heidi how this building will influence the museum’s approach to and scope of exhibitions, and she said that it will allow them to show larger exhibitions, allow for more travelling exhibitions to be integrated into the schedule, and they will be able to show more exhibitions simultaneously. Furthermore, the galleries will be outfitted with movable partitions in order to adapt to the needs of various types of artwork and alter the look of the space. While collecting museums dedicate massive amounts of space (and time, money, energy, etc.) to the storage of objects, many of which never even get exhibited, all efforts at the AAM will focus directly toward the presentation of art.
Even though the AAM does not purchase and collect artwork, it is very much engaged with living artists and finding ways to generate and disseminate new and original art into the public. For example, Dikeou Collection artist, Margaret Lee, is currently participating with the museum as a Photographer in Residence. Over the next few weeks she will visit Aspen and create new commissioned photographs in association with the new building. These photographs will be released throughout the year, beginning with the grand opening of the museum in August. To quote Heidi, “We are a non-collecting institution, but we do ‘collect’ and share our unique experiences of working with artists in unexpected places and ways; this approach allows us to further extend these aspects of our institutional culture.” By putting artwork into the public realm, it will entice people to enter the space of the museum.
The final exhibition at the original home of the Aspen Art Museum will feature work from Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto, who is also the AAM’s 2014 Aspen Award for Art honoree. The inaugural shows at the new Aspen Art Museum will feature an exhibition pairing Yves Klein and David Hammons. Shigeru Ban will be honored with an exhibition, Humanitarian Architecture, which will feature architectural models and will also be accompanied by a catalog published by AAM. Other debut exhibits include Cai Guo-Qiang, Jim Hodges, Tomma Abts, and Rosemarie Trockel.
Architectural rendering of the museum’s main entrance on Hyman Street. Image courtesy of the Aspen Art Museum and Shigeru Ban Architects.
People walking along the street in front of the museum will be able to catch glimpses of these shows through the interstitial spaces in the wooden screen, a subtle “come closer” gesture the building creates through its most noticeable architectural feature.
Image courtesy of the Aspen Art Museum
For those interested in more details about the new Aspen Art Museum, including the construction process, the project team, timeline, and much more, visit the ”New Building” section of their website. There are high quality photos and videos of the building process that capture new developments every week, and profile some of the individuals involved in the construction.
Heidi said that Shigeru Ban is still highly involved with the project and comes to Aspen on a monthly basis to check on progress. He visited the Monday following my visit, and, according to Heidi, it went very well. Ban was recently quoted saying that the new Aspen Art Museum is “my great step forward in my career as an architect.” This is a bold statement for someone who has accomplished so much and impacted many lives over the course of his career. The Aspen Art Museum marks a new chapter in an already impressive legacy.
Special Projects Coordinator
Dikeou Pop-Up: Colfax occupies what was once Jerry’s Record Exchange, a notable spot along East Colfax Avenue that contributed to the colorful culture that populates this legendary strip. Devon Dikeou visited the vacant shop on her last trip to Denver, and knew right away that it was the perfect location for a new pop-up gallery.
The work of a few artists has been on the installation waiting list, but the shifty lights, torn laminate floors, and other forms of structural deterioration within the space would be most accommodating to the provocative and ephemeral creations by Lizzi Bougatsos. The grand opening was set for Friday, April 18, 2014.
She arrived from New York on Thursday afternoon. I met her and Dikeou Collection Director, Saniego Sanchez, in the parking lot behind the pop-up. While shaking hands she says I look really familiar and asks if we’ve met before. I tell her no. “You sure? You ever come to New York?” We make our way inside.
Five of Lizzi’s pieces are installed at Dikeou Pop-Up: Colfax, along with an additional piece, an ice sculpture, which was exhibited at the opening and will be recreated on special occasions.
Pussy For Rent, 2010
Happy Ending 2, 2012
Good Hair, 2010
Dick Toss II, 2012
In God We Bust, 2010
“This is great. This is so rad,” she said as she investigated the space. She hadn’t seen many of these pieces since they were exhibited at James Fuentes about 4 years ago. It was then suggested that we peak downstairs in the basement.
We made our way down the rickety rainbow staircase and found ourselves surrounded by graffiti, album covers glued to the ceiling, and random household objects scattered on the dirt floor. Lizzi loved it. This underground abandonment, stained with a sense of youth, was a very happy place for her.
As we emerge from the basement she asks again, “Are you sure we haven’t met? At James’?” I tell her I’ve only been to his gallery once, to which she replied, “I’m there all the time. It had to have been there.” At this point we all decide to make a quick stop at the Denver MCA to see Rashid Johnson’s show and have a drink at the rooftop bar. On the way to the museum she tells us how she was Kim Gordon’s date to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony where she got to meet Stevie Nicks and Emmylou Harris, and attend the Nirvana after party. Just some of the perks of the rock’n’roll lifestyle. Dinner at Domo Japanese Country food restaurant, museum and garden rounded out the evening.
This picture is from inside the small museum, which is part of a dojo, at the restaurant. Lizzi said Japan is one of her favorite places to travel to because of the food and culture. “This place is my jam,” she said as we left for the night.
The weather was beautiful the next day, perfect for a journey to Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, just 30 minutes outside of Denver. This is one of the most revered performance venues in the world, so naturally Lizzi took the stage with three construction workers on backup.
We journeyed down the road a bit and found this colorful little niche. Here’s Lizzi and Saniego posing with some rock art.
Lizzi couldn’t get enough of the great outdoors. We couldn’t hang around too much longer, though, because it was time to get ready for the opening of Dikeou Pop-Up: Colfax!
The opening was fabulous, perhaps my favorite Dikeou Collection event so far. Enjoy some of these snapshots – more pics can be seen in the event album on Facebook.
Green glow emanating from In God We Bust. To the left is a peak at Dikeou Collection’s extensive vinyl record archive (over 8,000 LPs and 45s). The records originally came from Jerry’s Record Exchange, and are now available for pop-up visitors to explore and listen.
Lizzi was the DJ for the night and played tunes from the archive.
Artist selfie reflection in Happy Ending 2
…but all good things must melt away.
The next day Lizzi hosted an artist talk at the pop-up. She said it was challenging to discuss some of these works because they were made several years ago and her thoughts and process have changed. Pieces like Happy Ending II and Self-Portrait are more representative of the direction she is heading with her art. Her recent interview with zingchat covers a lot of what she expressed during the talk.
No trip to Denver is complete without a visit to Dikeou Collection, especially now that Lizzi has been officially inducted into the clan. Here she is with Momoyo Torimitsu’s Somehow I Don’t Feel Comfortable in her Easter Sunday dress.
Dikeou Collection would like to extend a big thanks to Lizzi for traveling to Denver for the opening of Dikeou Pop-Up: Colfax. It was such a treat to spend time with this talented artist and introduce her work to the Denver art community.
Dikeou Pop-Up: Colfax is located at 312 East Colfax Ave. and is open Wednesday through Friday, 11:00-5:00. The “Fresh Jazz and Crisp Vinyl Series” featuring the Jean Luc Davis Quartet will happen there on Friday, May 16 at 7:00 PM.
Special Projects Coordinator
Yes, the enigmatic artist, fashion icon, and front-woman for bands Gang Gang Dance, IUD, and Angelblood is in the Mile High this weekend for her exhibition at the new Dikeou Pop-Up: Colfax.
An opening reception will take place at Dikeou Pop-Up: Colfax on Friday, April 18, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Lizzi will be the DJ for the evening, playing tunes from our massive vinyl record archive. Lizzi will also host an artist talk on Saturday, April 19, at 4:00 at the Pop-Up. Both of these events are free and open to the public.
Dikeou Pop-Up: Colfax is located at 312 East Colfax Ave. Denver CO 80203. For inquiries call 303-623-3001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
’Hope, Thanks and the Unforgiving Literary Series’ is one of Dikeou Collection’s longest running public programs. Poet, author and playwright Robert Snyderman has been coordinating this program, which occurs on a tri-monthly basis at the Dikeou Collection. The most recent installment was on Friday, March 28, and featured readers Lisa Donovan, Aby Kaupang, Matthew Cooperman, and Adam Fagin.
Dikeou Collection Director Saniego Sanchez welcomes the audience
Robert Snyderman, the coordinator for the literary series, introduces the readers.
First reader, Adam Fagin, used an original audio component to his reading.
Matthew Cooperman integrated audience participation into his reading.
Audience gabs during intermission
Cocktail weenines, anyone?
First order of business when visiting Dikeou Collection: get a pic on Wade Guyton’s “The Room Moved, the Way Blocked”
Reader Lisa Donovan
And last, but not least, Aby Kaupang.
Thanks to all our readers and attendees for another great night! More photos can be seen on Dikeou Collection’s Facebook page. If you would like to know more about current events at Dikeou Collection, email email@example.com and we will add you to our contact list!
“Devon [Dikeou] has the ability to challenge and critique the workings of the art world and offer momentary glimpses behind the proverbial curtain, at times even slipping the art historical rug out from under us.” -Heather Pesanti, The Contemporary Austin
Read more about Devon’s artistic practice and collective vision in the Spring issue of Modern in Denver on newsstands now! Remember, Dikeou Collection is free and open to the public Wednesday-Friday, 11:00-5:00, or by appointment. Visit www.dikeoucollection.org to see more artwork and catch up on monthly events. More of Devon Dikeou’s artwork can be seen at www.devondikeou.com
In zingmagazine #22, Adam Mendelsohn addresses questions of originality and invention in the visual arts in his curated project “Chicken Shit.” By presenting side-by-side images of works by artists like Jennifer Bolande and Harold E. Edgerton, and William Anastasi and Carl Andre, it is easy for one to observe the striking visual similarities that exist between artworks that were created years apart from one another.
Another example of this parallel was brought to our attention when an exhibition at Venus Over Manhattan caught the eye of an astute observer/close friend of Dikeou Collection and zingmagazine. What stood out to this individual was the uncanny resemblance of artist Charles Harlan’s use of the metal rolling gate in his installation “Ishtar” to that of Devon Dikeou’s security gate installations dating from 1989 to 1991. Dikeou has exhibited her gates at Ihara Ludens and Paula Allen. “Ishtar” will be on view at Venus Over Manhattan until March 22, 2014.
As noted by Mendelsohn, this situation is not uncommon in the art world, and is in fact a very important theme within the entire span of art history. What is important to remember is that while works by different artists may look alike, rarely do they carry the same meaning and intent for each artist, as that is something that cannot be replicated.
“That people reach similar, sometimes identical conclusions independently of one another is something that happens with regular frequency. In science this is called multiples. This fact is almost never celebrated. In art, as in science, it’s almost always about who got there first – like landing on the moon. …
… What remains truly rare over time is invention. Innovation is the constant but invention is much trickier ground. Where invention is credited and where it comes from is almost a total mystery.”
- Excerpt from “Chicken Shit” by Adam Mendelsohn, zingmagazine #22
Devon Dikeou, “Security/Insecure” (1989), exhibited at Paula Allen
Devon Dikeou, “Security Kiosk” (1990), exhibited at Ihara Ludens
Charles Harlan, “Ishtar” (2013), currently on view at Venus Over Manhattan until March 22.
Charles Harlan, “Roll Gates” (2012), at Socrates Sculpture Park
See more of Devon Dikeou’s body of work at www.devondikeou.com
Be sure to see Harlan’s “Ishtar” installation at Venus Over Manhattan in NYC before it closes this weekend. More of his work can be seen online at www.charlesharlan.com
Special Projects Coordinator, Dikeou Collection
“Guyton has chosen to focus on the quotation marks, using the paintings as a lens to focus in on the environment and act of looking at the paintings.” -Brian Dupont
Read more of Dupont’s review of Wade Guyton’s solo exhibition at Petzel Gallery, on view until February 22.
Dikeou Collection artist Misaki Kawai poses with her furry, comb-able painting now on display for ‘This Is Not A Toy’ at the Toronto Design Museum. This exhibition, curated by musician Pharrell Williams, features other fantastic artists like Takashi Murakami, KAWS, and FriendsWithYou.
Dikeou Collection artist Ester Partegàs is showing some beautiful new work in her solo exhibition “You Are Here” at the Anderson Gallery at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“The visual allure of several large-scale color photo-transparencies, illuminated in light boxes, offers a striking contrast to the surrounding backdrop. Upon closer inspection, these scenes of nature and freshly minted urban views reveal glitches—a rip, a fold, or a slice of background or foreground—indicative of their true point of origin.”
For more information about this exhibition visit http://arts.vcu.edu/andersongallery/exhibitions/ester-partegas/