100 Colorado Creatives: Adam Lerner

Photo by Richard Peterson.
#4: Adam Lerner

There's not much one can say about Adam Lerner that would truly do him justice. He runs MCA Denver with nothing resembling an iron hand: He's funny, impossibly smart, steeped in culture and a natty dresser, and he has a knack for surrounding himself with people of the same ilk. And he's made MCA, as he did the Lab at Belmar before it, a friendlier place where the intellectual processes of looking at and understanding art become both fun and more directly challenging. We're lucky to have Lerner at the helm of Denver's handsome contemporary-art palace, where serendipitous programming brings lightness to the work of appreciating art. Amen. Read on to see where Lerner is at and where he's going.

See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Nora Burnett Abrams

Richard Peterson
Adam Lerner with his object of fascination, Mark Mothersbaugh.
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?

I would want to work with P.T. Barnum because he liked doing outrageous things. I'd also maybe involve Congress. The way I imagine it, I'd turn to P.T. and say something like, "What if, instead of having boring grey streets and roadways, we painted them in interesting patterns and fabulous colors?" And he would be like, "Yeah, and what if the storefronts of all shops were aquariums?" And Congress would say, "You know, we can make that the law." And then there would be unanimous bipartisan support for it.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?

Right now, Mark Mothersbaugh occupies every point of the compass for me. From before he co-founded the band DEVO to this very minute, he has been making art and music with boundless imagination and energy. And there is one lesson that I take from everything he makes, from his outlandish musical contraptions to zany cartoons. I believe he is saying that, given all the rules and limitations that we establish for each other and ourselves, and all the damage that's been done to us and we've done to ourselves, our task is to attempt to transform whatever we can of all of that into something we can call our art. Then, we have found our voice and may even be able to find our greatness. Denver audiences will get to discover that lesson for themselves when my exhibition of Mothersbaugh's career work opens on Halloween 2014.

Continue reading for more from Adam Lerner.

Location Info


MCA Denver

1485 Delgany St., Denver, CO

Category: General

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