Union Hall’s newest exhibition features a roster of emerging artists in Downtown Denver
The exhibition is part of a program that is intended to give Denver creatives professional curatorial experience.
Artist Isaac Jordan Lee needed to use a 22-foot ladder to install his attention-grabbing piece “Kaleidoscope 5,” a spider web-like installation made entirely of plastic bags, to hang high at a brand-new exhibition opening this week.
Lee’s work is one of the pieces featured at Union Hall’s Rough Gems: The Ultimate Boon. The exhibition opens Feb. 23 at The Coloradan (1750 Wewatta St.).
It’s part of the Rough Gems program, an effort meant to give Denver creatives an opportunity to develop their curatorial skills.
Co-curators, Florence Blackwell and Nadiya Jackson, recruited five emerging artists they knew well to curate what will be one of the first major gallery exhibitions in their art careers.
The cohort of artists, Coltyn Cody, Lizeth Guadalupe, Lee, Eduardo Vasquez and Xavier Hadley, each tell a story of their heroes’ journeys through visual, sonic, and three-dimensional installations. The group is made up of multidisciplinary artists and curators from a wide range of backgrounds.
“I am sincerely ready for more voices to be heard in this city,” said Blackwell, a transdisciplinary artist and art historian.
Vasquez, a self-titled iPhoneographer, said his work on display is a collection of photographs that he has been building for the past 15 years.
“I started shooting with iPhones in 2008. I was utilizing a medium that was accessible to me and allowed me to create art. With technology, I realized early on that I was on to something,” Vasquez said.
Blackwell and Jackson first came up with the idea for this exhibit while working at the MCA.
“We were feeling that we wanted to make a mark on the city that we both have navigated for so many years. The process is not just about us, it is about the artists. We believe in their work and we really wanted to maximize the space,” said Jackson, a Denver native and graduate of Denver School of the Arts.
The space, which usually holds 11-16 pieces, will display 33 total pieces come opening day.
Guadalupe, a graduate of Metropolitan State University, and one of the highlighted artists, is excited about changing the narrative around full-time artists. Growing up a first-generation Latina, her mother often encouraged her to pursue higher paying careers.
“I always wanted to be an artist. I feel like I am now baby-stepping into the art world,” Guadalupe said.
An opening reception is planned for opening night. Find details here.