October 25th, 2019
Featured Artists: Ian Fisher, Drew Austin & Tobias Fike, Channing Williams, Kyra Weinkle, Matthew Harris, Joseph Coniff, Lucía Rodríguez, Aaron Mulligan, Caleb Hahne.
There is a politics of dreaming, that the social sphere might be so organized as to render certain aspirations more easy to reach and others less so. This organization is not innate, but is a reflection of a silent agreement shared among members of a society, that out of all the latent potential inherent within its members, a social body is comfortable actualizing only certain of those potentials. And yet societies do grow and change, however so slowly, which indicates the persistence and rambunctiousness of those who dream, those who are willing to endure discomfort. The contributions of these people add to our lives in ways that, in time, become part of that silent agreement; something we take for granted. Thus, persistence in dreaming seems to be of the greatest social importance, and the means by which we, as a community, foster this spirit is a matter of great consequence.
Pre-Text is a context designed to serve a political function, to make public the aspirations of dreamers. The dream projects which they here present are only a small sample of the vast potential that exists within our community. These projects may or may not be realized in physical form, of course. Sometimes, the resources simply do not manifest. However, in making these projects public, we are aiming to begin the process of aligning those who might have access to the right resources with those who need them.
Yet Pre-Text serves another function: to stimulate the popular imagination. To actualize a dream project if not in physical space, then in the imagination of the community. It asks the question: what if? This is always a question of the values active within the present. What if we were to align our resources to realize these or similar projects at their maximum potential? What if we don’t? What projects will realize instead? A brewery? A Wal-Mart? A highway? What does surrender to the seeming inevitability of the comfortable say about us? These are questions about us; our willingness to persist in envisioning the future we want now, rather than merely accepting the present that was made comfortable yesterday.
October 4th - October 19th, 2019
works by Lucas Thomas
We inhabit space not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually, and thus it is worth exploring the poetry of form from a place that is neither and both architecture and art.
Lucas Thomas’s practice benefits from the freedom to experiment that is inherent to the discipline of art while being informed by his interests in architecture. Form is a language of abstraction inherent in both the disciplines of architecture and sculpture. As such, it is not apparent why these disciplines should be regarded as so distinct. Thomas’s sculptures can be regarded as separate art objects, but in their relationship to architecture they might also be seen as operating in relation to one another, transforming the gallery into a scaled down city. His freedom to control the context of the gallery to play with concepts of scale and Urbanism.
Simultaneously, painting is here placed in dialogue with sculpture, as Thomas’s paintings are used to ideate in a way specific to a medium that is not bound by the necessity to respond to gravity. Without the need to build self-supporting structures, Thomas’s paintings can more intuitively chronicle the thoughts of the artist.
Thomas also employs strategies to incorporate found objects, allowing their forms to serve as a call to which his structures respond. In this way, he frames them so that their previous implications are shed and their formal potential is revealed. Working with found objects also helps Thomas relinquish the absolute control of the individual artist, making him receptive to the suggestiveness of the given. Though his architectural approach implies the control implicated in careful design, this receptivity is an openness to allowing the spiritual to influence Thomas’s practice. Like composer John Cage, design and randomness are not treated as opposites, but work together to produce results unforeseen by the artist. And like artist Robert Irwin, something that at first registers as controlled is actually working to evoke a spiritual experience.
These opposites of the designer’s impulse and the natural impulse can be balanced. The elements at play are these: awareness, openness, and response. It is our hope that these objects will present themselves to you, in their mute presence, so that you too might be engaged in Thomas’s experiments.
August 2 - September 14, 2019
works by Jennifer Lord
What happens when a rainbow turns into a field of flowers, or further a bouquet?
We have come to a place where there is a recognition that sentient beings are more than just the human inhabitants of this plane. And even that that narrow view is harmful to those very humans. Everywhere one finds oneself, one is in a field of subjective multitudes.
Research has shown that spending time in a forest, in nature, has a positive health benefit. Moreover, having cut flowers in your environment has a beneficial health impact on the viewer. What about paintings of flowers?
Here we face the paintingness of these paintings. Flowers and landscapes yes, and marks, gestures, stains, colors and masking. There is representation and abstraction, gesture and description, everything is available. All of the paintings in AS YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THE VERDANT FIELDS WITH THE SUN ON YOUR FACE were made in 2019. It is the eighth month of that year.
What is the goal or hopes of the artist? To awaken a sense of the wonder of this world, of life, of nature. Painting as a recognition of ourselves, each one of us, humans, in, embedded within an ecology, a shimmering existence.
August 4th - 25th, 2019.
McNichols Building, 144 W Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80202.
* This event was supported by the Denver Arts & Venues Cultural Partner Program.
Participating architects include: Rick Sommerfeld and the students of the Colorado Building Workshop, Jaime Rivera, Jimenez Lai, Tony Gonzalez, Germane Barnes, Jordan Gravely, BairBalliet (Kelly Bair / Kristy Balliet), and Kevin Hirth.
Panel Discussion: Sunday, August 4, 3 - 4.30.
Speakers include: Cortney Lane Stell (Black Cube Nomadic Museum), Donald Burnes (The Burnes Center on Poverty and Homelessness) and Jill Lecantore (WalkDenver).
Denver is currently experiencing a massive shift in its urban design and cultural paradigm. While some of the changes have been rewarding to the community, others have left many unsettled from the vertigo of rapid change. In the midst of a maelstrom of influences -the growth of the Denver International Airport, the
expansion of the light rail system, the passing of Amendment 64, the growth of Denver’s tech industry, the influx of people from other cities and states, and more- the architecture and design of the city has emerged as a topic of vital importance for this community.
It is the goal of this exhibition to provide a context for a public conversation about the design of the city of Denver, its current trends, and its latent potentials. This conversation is ideally suited to the McNichols Building -the city’s former library- situated in the Civic Center Park between Denver’s city council building and the state capital. This building is also located near the 16th street mall -a center for economic activity- and the city’s Cultural Complex, which is home to the Denver Public Library (a Michael Graves Building) and the Denver Art Museum (a Daniel Liebskind building and a Gio Ponti building). A number of judicial buildings are also only a short walk away, as well as some of the city’s major streets. The confluence of Denver’s culture, political organization, and economic reality will be confronted right outside this building’s front doors. Yet the conversation doesn’t end there.
This exhibition and the conversation it encourages need not be conceived as being contained within one room. This conversation extends throughout the city. It is our aim to present to you a space in which to build a dream with your neighbors and to envision the Utopia you’d like to work towards. Build your dream, then take it with you to grow in your community.
May 3rd - June 8th, 2019
Featured artists: Joseph Coniff, Amber Cobb, Joshua Ware, Katie Wilker, Marsha Mack, Laine Godsey.
“Abstraction”, as a term, has taken on an unintended baggage somewhere in the course of its development. “Abstraction”, as in that stuff you make when you cannot paint. The kind of stuff someone’s kid could make. But consider: why would anyone criticize an art object on the basis of his or her child’s capacity to unselfconsciously produce a comparable aesthetic? People have a tendency to love their kids, so isn’t it a bit strange to shame by way of this comparison? Parents tend to take Crayola-smeared pieces of printer paper and stick them to the fridge, where they are organized with so many other objects that refer back to home and hearth. A child’s simple exclamation of pride: “I made this!”, is an uncommon target of discouragement. Yet of course the objects sticking to the walls of an art gallery are made by adults, typically strangers, and they have prices. That, and an art gallery isn’t a home, but a business.
Let’s be honest. The anger one feels at a piece of abstract art is the misdirected anger one feels at one’s own job. It’s the anger one feels for having to work a frustrating nine to five, or, considering the increasing demand that regularly employed individuals work constant overtime, a frustrating seven to six. It’s the anger of having to wait two weeks or a month for the one day when it all feels like it’s worth it. And it is worth it when you get back to your home; the home you earned through all the sacrifice, and sit on your couch. To see a working-age stranger ask for more money than you earn in a week for something your child could have done must be a way of diminishing all the sacrifice, right? This is an anger generated by the fact that the object does not exist for the purpose of celebrating work for work’s sake. It doesn’t look difficult enough. The comparison to one’s own child indicates the kind of life a parent is anticipating for his or her offspring: hard.
As a generation of people are settling into an environment constructed out of the consequences of downward mobility, the reality is that home ownership isn’t as much of an option as it used to be. Most of the artists here presented absolutely do have that day job, and they aren’t ensured the same satisfaction of seeing the hard work pay off. And if that sculpture doesn’t sell, it will probably find its ultimate home in the apartment of the artist. How, then, does one anticipate living with these objects? Do their subtle references to or outright repurposing of wall paper, pillows, and mattresses express a desire to see home reflected in the object? Or is it that the artists are distilling into objective form the anticipation a home has of its occupant? A home’s dimensions and its objects anticipate our bodies, its forms lend themselves to our comfort, and its decorum expresses our identities.
When one surrenders to the need to visit a Home Depot, one can break with the appeals of their marketing and the trends promoted by HGTV and find within the materials new techniques whereby occupation can be explored. Abstraction is, simply, a way of breaking things down into its essential components. There is nothing easy, difficult, beautiful, ugly, interesting, or boring about abstraction. Abstraction doesn’t mean anything. It is a tool all of us, artist and non-artist alike, use to navigate our environments. Within the flexibility and utility of abstraction, one is able to develop a strategy.
When a recent graduate moves into his or her first apartment, he or she is confronted with the task of furnishing. The enthusiasm of one’s expectations mingle with what is, for most, a limitation of resources, resulting in unique strategies of occupation. What is a cinder-block besides an industrial material? What else is a shipping crate? These abstract questions might lead to the breakthrough one needs in order to finally own a table. Though it might seem lazy to some, that table will express a value besides work. It will express resilience. Though simply an assemblage passing as furniture, the table is simultaneously the byproduct of a manifesto, no longer about a drawing, but about a reclamation of the concept of home, that reads as follows:
“I made this.”