100 Colorado Creatives: Patrick Mueller, Control Group Productions

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Patrick Mueller, in character.
Colorado Creatives #96: Patrick Mueller

Patrick Mueller grew up in Lakewood and then left town for schooling at Pomona, where he started out a visual artist and through a new-found interest in theater, came away a movement and performance artist. A period of wandering followed, during which he lived a "nomadic lifestyle," exploring the scope of new performance both in the states and abroad. It had been ten years by the time he came back to Colorado on a break in 2007 and decided to stay. "I realized there was a change in the air here, that there was a different climate in the arts," he recalls.

Once back in town, Mueller created the live avant-garde performance troupe Control Group Productions, buoyed by the new, young artist community he saw emerging here. Denver, he reasoned, was on the edge of something, and he wanted to be a part of it: "I prefer to make work that has a larger impact on the community," he explains. "To make work in New York...it would be unique, but just one of so many pieces being put on stage. Here, in a way, there's a greater possibility of doing something that might change people's perspectives, if not their lives."

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The nonprofit company settled into the Packing House, a raw space in RiNo, and began to produce its own shows and collaborations with others. Also on the Control Group agenda were artist residencies, classes and workshops. Cross-fertilization with artists in the Boulder Fringe pipeline also took place, and unusual productions ranged from an avant haunted house one Halloween to a witty "Dance Night for Beginners" series, a mixture of pure dance and humorous commentary. Control Group is, really, a little bit out of the arts loop, but for those who dare to seek it out, the troupe promises a different experience.

But there is a wrench in the works: The company lost its home base late last year when the landlord couldn't afford to make city-mandated improvements to bring the building up to code as a live performance space and dance studio. Currently caught up in the search for new digs (a possibility is out there, but it's still too up-in-the-air to report), Mueller and Control Group are still carrying on, with an April show, when we were beautiful and all that came after, scheduled to play, ironically, at the Bindery, where it will be the last performance at that space, which is being vacated by the Lida Project. A working space of its own, though, is Control Group's goal.

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"In the long-term, I would like for the company to be an international presence," Mueller says. "Our work relates most closely to the aesthetics and style approached in Europe. We'd like to bring this work to that culture -- I think we have a valuable contribution to make in that dialogue.

"I'm not certain what route that will take," he adds. "Our funding is up in air, but I think we have a core group here and we are pulling together. Using the network I've laid down during my nomadic period, I see the potential for collaboration with fringe and other artists and companies in the world. It seems like a good route to take to spread those opportunities further."

Here's more from Mueller on Control Group, wish lists and the state of the avant garde.


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