Meow Wolf is not a typical gallery space. The colorful, interactive art installations inside are designed to make you feel like you’re in another reality. It’s a far cry from the white walls and quiet spaces typical of art galleries.
An exception to that is Galleri Gallery, Convergence Station’s only rotating art space. It’s in a sectioned off room in the gritty, urban realm of C Street. Meow Wolf uses the space to showcase the work of a different local artist, rotating in a new exhibition every few months. Before Lucero, the space showcased the colorful sculptures of the local light art collective Lumonics glowing against a dark background.
The space’s latest installation, which runs now through May 28, 2022, is METAREAL – The Life and Work of Stevon Lucero, In Memoriam. The temporary exhibit honors the life and work of the late artist Stevon Lucero, building upon the work already displayed in Meow Wolf’s Indigenous Futurist Dreamscapes Lounge, a permanent installation Lucero worked on in collaboration with Molina Speaks before Lucero’s death in November.
For Lucero’s installation, the Galleri Gallery’s walls are painted white, and some of Lucero’s original paintings are displayed in an arrangement reminiscent of more traditional galleries. But while the arrangement seems more of this world, Lucero’s “Metarealistic” work itself is still reflective of Meow Wolf’s energy and creative spirit. Visitors to the space will immerse themselves in the dreamlike imaginings depicted in Lucero’s paintings and learn about the late artist’s life and legacy. They will hear his voice and see him at work through a sound and video art piece playing on loop in the gallery.
Guests can also scan a QR code which takes them to an online store, where they can purchase the paintings to take home after the exhibition closes later this spring.
Lucero was a beloved artist and leader in the local arts scene. He was known by many for his kindness, his wisdom, his spirituality and his craft, which earned him a reputation as a “master artist.”
He pioneered the “Metarealism” art style and explored metaphysical, philosophical and historical concepts through his paintings, which often featured dreamscapes, religious iconography and Neo-Precolumbian Aztec imagery. He was also one of the cofounders of CHAC, a Latino arts collective that has helped bolster the careers of generations of artists and to establish Denver’s identity as a cultural hub.
Lucero’s last large-scale work of art was the Indigenous Futurist Dreamscapes Lounge, though he continued to paint after it was completed, and even as his health was failing last year. He died last November at the age of 72. Some of the works displayed in the Galleri Gallery were created shortly before Lucero’s death, and have not been displayed publicly before now.
The Galleri space was curated by Lucero’s wife, Arlette Lucero, and children their children Tana, Paul and Joshua, in collaboration with Lucero’s collaborator and friend Adrian H Molina (Molina Speaks) and Meow Wolf artist liaison Annie Geimer. Molina, who has been working with the Lucero family to find new homes for Lucero’s work, said he approached Meow Wolf about doing a Galleri exhibition this spring, feeling that the timing would have symbolic significance.
“Stevon was big on symbology and timing, and so am I,” Molina said. “Stevon left us in the fall as the leaves left the trees and winter prepared to consume everything. But Stevon’s legacy and his artistic impact remains. His familia is sitting on countless works, many which have never been seen. Some that were unfinished to him, but masterpieces to you and I. I wanted this show to represent the continuity and eternity of Stevon’s work, as the city and the trees and the plants come back into bloom.”
The exhibit gives visitors an insight into who Lucero was, giving the artist new life.
“In my own mind, he was something of a landmark; a human entity which was more than the sum of his parts,” Tana Lucero wrote in a statement. “He represented an iconic belief in the powers of the human imagination. It is unreal to me that he is gone from his easel, gone from his books, gone from this world. I look at his paintings and he is so present, so alive that I reach for the phone to talk to him; to share something new I’ve learned or ask him what he thinks of this or that.
“And I will,” the statement continued. “Later, when the oil paint is finally, finally dry and we meet again in the Land of Spirit and Light.”
Through the video, which was created by Emily Swank, Rodney Sino-Cruz (aka DJ Icewater) and Adrien Molina with video contributions by Molina, Jilann Spitzmiller and Meow Wolf Denver, Lucero will get to speak to hundreds of Meow Wolf visitors and to live on in a new way.
“On an immersive level, I wanted people to hear Stevon’s voice over beats, and to see Stevon and his paintbrush working with the forces of nature. DJ Icewater, Emily Swank, and Jilann Spitzmiller rallied to collaborate with me on these pieces,” Molina said. “This elder became one of my closest homies, and I wanted to make his spirit proud.”