Buying art in a gallery? Artist and curator Eric Matelski wants you to think again.
You can find art all over town -- not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.
"The gallery business can be extremely difficult," says Eric Matelski, a Denver-based artist and art curator who doesn't believe that art should be relegated solely to galleries and museums. While Matelski says he strongly supports galleries, he's come to realize just how hard it is to keep a gallery running. "Existing businesses that want to support art and are passionate about it but don't have to worry about artwork keeping their lights on are a great avenue for artists," Matelski says. That's why he's dedicated the past decade to helping fellow artists hang their work in non-gallery settings.
Matelski left Chicago in 1992 and came to Denver to attend the Art Institute of Colorado, studying industrial design. "After graduation, I promptly took up a career in restaurant management," he says, laughing and then explaining how he'd gotten burned out on art, largely because of how trying -- and tiring! -- it can be for an artist to get his work out there. It wasn't until he joined a punk band that Matelski found a renewed interest in art.
Eric Matelski curated the new exhibition at Trilogy Financial Services.
Matelski was in a band for about five years. During that time, he realized the power of cross-promotion and the benefits of being in a community environment. "It is more powerful to do things supportively," he says.
Matelski's transition into curating was "purely accidental," he says. "I do a lot of live painting at events, and so I was knocking on doors, getting music venues to let me come paint when a sales rep said Dazzle was looking for somebody to do just that," Matelski explains. Soon he was painting live portraits of the lounge's house bands and musicians every Friday, occasionally selling the pieces.
"Night View" by Patricia Finley, on display at Trilogy.
Before long, the owner of Dazzle mentioned his desire to support artists and acquire new art that could be changed regularly. "So almost immediately I started getting my friends to show there," says Matelski. That was eleven years ago, and Matelski's curating business has evolved tremendously since then.
"Last Call" by Megan Jones, on display at Trilogy.
"I took on all of the Pasquini's restaurants soon after, and then I got to the point where, two years in a row, I had hung over a hundred shows," says Matelski. Booming business is all well and good, but Matelski worried that the quality of his work might suffer if he continued on such an ambitious trajectory, so he scaled back -- but just a bit.
The Trilogy exhibition.
"Technically, curating is nothing more than handling a collection, but I wanted it to be more than that," Matelski says. His unique approach to promoting artists is to place their works in unexpected environments, where they can be seen by the demographic groups he is targeting.
"Rainbow" by Greg Thow, on display at Trilogy.
Keep reading for more from Eric Matelski.