Judy Chicago Talks About Feminism, Art and Life at 75

Categories: Art

Judy Chicago, Twin Heads
Surveying Judy Chicago opens Friday night at RedLine Gallery.

By the 1980s, feminist art pioneer Judy Chicago had secured a seat at the table of art history with her landmark installation, The Dinner Party. The triangular table, 48 feet on each side, was decorated with place-settings for 39 women from myth and history and celebrated another 999.

The project loomed over Chicago's career for over thirty years, shadowing many of her other creative achievements. The upcoming show at RedLine, Surveying Judy Chicago: 1970-2014 aims to shed light into some of the forgotten corners of the prolific artist's career.

In advance of Friday's opening, Westword spoke with Chicago about her life as an artist, her 75th birthday, the state of art education and the legacies of feminist art in the United States.

See also: Harmony Hammond and Tirza True Latimer on Queer Feminist Abstraction

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The Mayday Experiment: Tiny House, Big Plan

Categories: Art

Lauri Lynnxe Murphy
There is nothing like a rainbow over a Colorado mountain valley. I had to pull over - not, mind you, for the rainbow, but for my new friend, a drifter named Apache who had first drained a Gatorade bottle full of whiskey and then attempted to drain his bladder into said Gatorade bottle, to my increasing alarm. My truck, Bertha, may not be new and she may not be pretty, but up until this point she had only smelled of diesel and Axe Body Spray, and despite an absence of fondness for either smell, they were both infinitely preferable to urine. I'd met Apache while renting a box truck in Grand Lake in order to move what had turned out to be a gigantic stack of 2 x 4's that I had won in an auction. I was moving this mountain of lumber with two kind sexagenarians who had stepped up to my Facebook plea. So far, however, this expedition had gone terribly wrong, with a late start, too much rain and my own poor spatial skills misjudging a grainy .jpg. With only an hour left to load more wood than my F250 could hold, I had offered Apache a ride down to Denver and some cash in exchange for his help. Facing a two-hour bus wait he obliged -- not knowing what he was getting himself into. But then, did I know what I was getting myself into? Do I still? How did I even get here?

Tilting at windmills.

See also: Lauri Lynnxe Murphy's Laments Explores the Use of Oil in Art

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Colorado Modern Master Bill Vielehr Passes Away

Categories: Art

Bill Vielehr.
Bill Vielehr, a Colorado modern master, died suddenly on Saturday, October 11. Vielehr was born in Chicago in 1945 but grew up in Boulder, and he launched his art career here in Colorado. He studied fine art at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, where he earned a BFA in 1969, taking on some special graduate studies in sculpture that same year, also at CSU. He began to exhibit his work in the early 1970s -- not just in Colorado but across the country.

Vielehr, who at the time of his death was represented by Walker Fine Art in Denver, gained national recognition over the decades for his signature monumental abstract sculptures and his bas-relief sculptures, all of which were done in cast metals -- mostly aluminum or bronze, but in some cases he used both types in the same piece.

See also: Review of the Arvada Center's Unbound Installations

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I-70 Talk Is Getting Ugly, But New Murals Beautify the Neighborhood

Categories: Art

Giovanni Sanchez working on a mural on the north side of I-70.
Interstate 70 roars through Globeville, and with an October 31 deadline for public comment, discussion over its expansion is roaring as well. Houses on either side may be torn down as part of the project, and murals under the viaduct at 46th Avenue and Lincoln -- paid for by the city and painted this summer -- might go as well, worries Giovanni Sanchez, a nineteen-year-old artist who's enamored with his neighborhood, its culture and its struggles.

See also: Favianna Rodriguez Talks Sexual Liberation, Immigration, Racial Justice and Art

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Lauri Lynnxe Murphy's Laments Explores the Use of Oil in Art

Categories: Art

Lauri Lynnxe Murphy
Lauri Lynnxe Murphy, from the series "A Fine Mess."
Lauri Lynnxe Murphy, whose art often deals with environmental themes, has been on a mission to purge herself of oil-based materials. But boycotting oil is next to impossible. Next May, Murphy plans to leave her massive Five Points studio behind and embark on a cross-country journey in a tiny home (see Could Tiny Homes Solve a Big Problem in Denver?," our May 22 cover story). The Westword MasterMind will be chronicling her travels on this blog.

Before she embarks on that journey, she has planned "one last hurrah" in the world of large-scale installation. Her new show Lament, opening Saturday, October 11 at the Leon gallery, mourns the use of oil in a wide variety of media: paints, photographic chemicals, digital technologies and sculpture. But instead of abandoning oil, she's making work with it. Westword recently spoke with Murphy to learn more about her tiny-house plans and her new show.

See also: Could Tiny Houses Solve a Big Problem in Denver?

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Sam Spina Releases Know Me Now, His Latest Collection of Comics

Categories: Art, Books, Comix

Sam Spina compares the attraction of autobiographical comics with the appeal of reality television. "Super-trashy reality TV gets good ratings -- it doesn't necessarily have to be good," he says. But Spina, a longtime Denver comic artist currently living in Atlanta, doesn't think it's the quality of these art forms that draws people in. Rather, it's the everyday events easily dismissed as mundane that play out in the two mediums and engage people.

See also: Sam Spina on Developing an Animated Short for Nickelodeon and How You Can Do the Same

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The Five Ugliest Sculptures in Denver

Categories: Art

Dennis Oppenheim's "Light Chamber."

I'm a big fan of public art, and Denver has commissioned some standout pieces over the years that really spiff up the city. But sometimes things go awry when politics and civic bureaucracy meet the art world. While some of the people who serve on selection committees may have artistic qualifications, many more do not. Nor are there qualifications for private entities that wants to erect a piece in a public space.

As the saying goes, "everyone's a critic." Unfortunately, this sentiment reveals how less seriously art is taken than are other aspects of building. Below, in no particular order, are works that have bugged me since I first encountered them -- not only because they are bad but because they represent lost opportunities for something better. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section below.

See also: Five Reasons Why It Would Be Stupid To Demolish Boettcher Concert Hall

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Artist Sharon Feder on Her Show BUY and Finding Nature in Empty Buildings

Categories: Art, Interviews

Courtesy of BMoCA
Sharon Feder, Cloister, 2014, oil on panel.
Sharon Feder has been painting for as long as she can remember. Along with studying painting under the mentorship of Colorado modernists like Ed Marecak and Mark Zamantakis, Feder also has had decades of technical experience as a set designer, muralist and sign painter. Combined with her passion for urban archeology, Feder's work often captures the modern-day commercial landscape, for better economic times or for worse.

Feder's latest exhibition BUY, now on view at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, is a collection of paintings based on photographs of big-box stores and vacant and empty store signs taken over the last half-decade. Feder recently talked with Westword about this series of suburban retail landscape paintings and what motivates her to capture this part of modern American life.

See also: Chuck Dorsey's Old-School Window Painting Reanimates South Broadway

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Hari and Deepti's Light-Box Stories at Black Book Tomorrow

Categories: Art

Hari and Deepti
Black Book Gallery will host an opening celebrating Hari and Deepti's work Friday night.
When you walk into the Black Book Gallery for the opening of Oh, The Places You Will Go! on Friday night, the lights will be turned off and the only thing you will see are the fantastical light-boxes of husband-wife duo Hari and Deepti.

See also: Filmmaker Guy Maddin on Cinematic Séances and the Brakhage Symposium

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Harmony Hammond and Tirza True Latimer on Queer Feminist Abstraction

Categories: Art

Harmony Hammond, Suture
Harmony Hammond has been pushing the limits of abstract painting since the late 1960s.
Art naturally evolved from representation (pictures of things) toward abstraction, argued modernist art critic Clement Greenberg and his fellow formalists. Portraiture and landscape painting be damned: In pure art, paintings do nothing but express their essence as painting. But in the 1960s, painting about painting fell out of style and new forms emerged, feminism and queer art included. Both relied heavily on representation, pop cultural symbols, performance and text to explore political and social issues involving gender and sexuality.

Feminist artist, activist, educator and writer Harmony Hammond has been a queer amongst queers, staying committed to abstract painting from the late 1960s into the present despite the reemergence of symbol-rich art. Her career is the subject of the show Becoming/Unbecoming Monochrome at RedLine, which looks at her weave paintings from the 1970s and puts them in dialogue with some of her current, large-scale works.

See also: Catherine Opie Talks Selfies, AIDS and Her Shift from Representation to Abstraction

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