Get your elevator pitches ready, artists.
Last week, the Denver Art Museum announced it’s now taking proposals from artists who want $10,000 to help fill a 28-foot canvas. The work will be on display by the entrance of the museum’s new Martin Building for three years.
The new building has more space for art, but a lot of the design work behind the project was bent on creating places for people to gather and learn from each other (when that’s something we do again).
Besides artistic aptitude, applicants should have “strong ties” to the seven-county metro area and pitch a project that creatively incorporates voices from people who live in it. Be it through social media, voicemails or in-person events, the winning proposal will source ideas and perspectives from locals.
“Communities of color and other marginalized communities have been underrepresented in art museums over decades, both internally and externally,” a section of the museum’s website reads. “We believe these communities must be centered in the work we do. Hence, we strongly encourage applications from people with these identities.”
Erin Cousins, who works on public engagement at the museum, described the future mural as a welcome mat. It’s meant to immediately communicate who Denver is, the museum’s values and its commitment to the area and its residents.
“Our goal is to — within the structure of this mural — create space for community input,” she said. “The whole purpose is to welcome the community and all of our audiences from all backgrounds and ages.”
Her colleague Jodie Gorochow said the museum has been working toward this kind of interaction with the city for “a very long time.” Gorochow helped the museum bring arts and education into schools and community centers and curated opportunities for people to gather at the DAM to “connect them in dialogue.”
“The Denver Art Museum has a role to play in bringing the community together,” she said.
Gorochow said she and Cousins have been thinking a lot about how to ensure the winning artist or team of artists aren’t necessarily part of the small clique of creatives who usually win public art contracts in the city. They’re spreading the word through a diverse group of art stakeholders in the region, and they’ve gathered a team of advisors to help them select the right proposal.
Half of the eight-person selection committee works for the museum. The other four are members of the broader arts scene: JC Futrell, education director of the Redline Contemporary Art Center; Moe Gram, board member of the Birdseed Collective; Ryan Foo, co-founder of the Black Actors Guild; and Metropolitan State University of Denver art professor Carlos Fresquez.
The deadline for applications is Feb. 12. The mural will likely be completed in time for the Martin Building’s long-awaited opening. Museum spokesperson Jena Pruett said the public will likely be able to enter the space, and pass the huge new mural, in the fall.