So it is Sunday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend and I am driving over to the relatively new-ish art district on South Santa Fe Drive in Denver. (When you have been showing your art as long as I have, Denver’s “new-ish” art district has probably been on the rise for the past 15 years. Seems to have flown right by….. ) I am on an errand to pick up my painting titled CASCINA ( see top gallery photo ) that was juried into the Mixed Media Show at Core Gallery on S. Santa Fe and 9th, that is ending today after a 2 week run. Lots of great feedback from the staff there about my painting put me in a somewhat heightened mood of satisfaction, reinforcing why I continue to pursue this often thankless, ridiculously painful, but always colorful career in the wild and crazy world of art. After loading it into the car I decide to wander around the neighborhood and take some pictures which I usually do not give myself permission to do, unfortunately. I was instantly rewarded for my attention.
I am immediately joyful with what I see, finding nuances that I had never stopped to notice before. It almost feels like I am in Puerto Vallarta, or even Santa Fe or Albuquerque. And I love that. Contemporary art and extraordinary, edgy wall graffiti juxtaposed with weathered Mexican pinata colors, fresh flowers, funky tattoo parlors, barber shops, aromatic taco joints, bright umbrellas over crowded tables of lunch crowds and many many art galleries. Escaping for an hour or so was just what I needed, and there were many other folks doing the same thing. The galleries were busy.
The cherry on the top of this delicious, aimless, decadent, vividly memorable meandering was an accidental ( but not really ) discovery on a back street, between 9th and 10th on Inca. I turned the corner to find two guys collaborating and executing the most fabulous, enormous, graffiti mural on the long wall of a building; a building, I am told, that has been a coveted and honored location for such art for almost 30 years. It is a group effort with several contributors but at the moment Quentin and Soul are the ones with the spray cans. And it is gorgeous! A jungle theme is in place with some dinosaur images coming next to the party and I am fascinated to hear the whole plan unfolding as ideas are bounced around. Spray and step back to take a look, spray over some of it and then add more. The image is all about sharp lines and curves; intense color against black; hidden images and ones that stand right out. Humor and messages. It is mesmerizing to watch. So…..it really is a jungle out there.
I ask how they can be sure that some other taggers are not going to mess it up by painting over it – my god I cannot bear even the hint of that tragic possibility. I already feel vested in it, just by standing there and watching it happen – I feel protective of it by osmosis. Is there someone who guards it by night? I want to volunteer.
They tell me that leaving no empty spaces is part of the key – no tempting, inviting blank areas that some jerk might believe need his additional touches.
And it is also about R ES P E C T. And T R U S T.
No respectable artist would ever ruin another guy’s work.
I learned a lot in a short conversation of only 20 minutes, as they worked, and added vastly to my meager knowledge but huge respect for the BIG guys of universally recognized graffiti art – like King Banksy and the others.
Ahhh. In another life…..I would love to do that. It was a whole new slant on art for me.