The annual exhibition of resident artists at the RedLine Contemporary Art Center is always more than the sum of its parts. And no show has more parts than this.
This year alone, the exhibition features works by more than 30 artists – painters, sculptors, photographers and videographers, as well as a number of creators of multimedia installations whose contributions are impossible to categorize. It’s comprehensive and enlightening and full of great work, although the variety of themes and skill levels on display can make it difficult to consume all at once.
Still, I consider the Residents’ Show to be one of the most important events on Colorado’s visual arts calendar. This is because RedLine is known as a flagship factory. In its 11 years of providing hand-picked artists with free studio space and creative encouragement, the nonprofit RiNo has sparked – or, just as importantly, re-energized – the careers of many of the most crucial contemporary artists in the region. Anyone looking for the next resonant voices in Colorado art begins the search at RedLine.
RedLine is where I first encountered the work of Amber Cobb, Gretchen Marie Schaffer, Molly Bounds, Caleb Hahne and Derrick Velasquez. It was there that I learned to appreciate Joel Swanson, Thomas Evans, Sandra Fettingis, Sammy Lee, Sterling Crispin, George P. Perez and Daisy Patton.
It’s a bit of a laundry list, but it also happens to be a list of some of the most exciting and impactful visual artists and curators associated with Denver today.
This year’s Residents’ Show features samples from a new series of artists with the potential to leave their own lasting mark, including the likes of Victor Machado, Cherish Marquez, Juntae TeeJay Hwang, Sarah Darlene Palmeri, Vinni Alfonso and Victor Escobedo. . And there are more well-known names ready to be rediscovered if you don’t already know them, like Rochelle Johnson and Lauri Lynnxe Murphy.
Again, a list. But that’s how it goes with the annual Residents’ Show, where quantity always threatens to trump quality. I have great sympathy for the curator hired each year to organize the effort.
The offerings of these extravagances – current and selected former residents – are all full of ambition. Beyond that, they have little in common. These artists all do their own thing and are only gathered here because of their connection to RedLine.
This year’s wrestler, curator Rosie Gordon-Wallace, seems to have quickly understood the futility of incorporating a legitimate theme into the exhibit, writing in the printed exhibit guide that visitors should “form their own narrative about the selection and placement of works of art. . “At least she’s being honest there.
She found a way to bring it all together, and with great wisdom, by organizing the objects according to their physical and emotional characteristics rather than trying to force connections between the unrelated intellectual ideas that the artists instilled in them.
Gordon-Wallace placed objects of complementary colors and shapes close to each other. She alternated large pieces with small pieces; dramatic pieces with calming pieces; quick hit coins with coins that take a little longer to consume.
The result is an exhibition – titled “Chromatic Cogitations: Rhythm Reboot” – which unfolds with a gentle and contagious pace. There is an impulse, a tempo, that guides viewers from place to place.
If the job was to present these resident artists as a community of humans, then Gordon-Wallace succeeded where all of his predecessors failed. It feels whole rather than fragmented, and that’s probably the best thing you can say about a large group show.
And I want to review the show with that in mind, to avoid creating yet another list by pointing out winners and losers among the people and objects that make it up. It is better to experience this release as a big gesture rather than 30 separate parts. I say this rhythm bounces you from ephemeral digital offerings to hard ceramics, from murals to mobiles to collages, from shy historical references to urgent rants on contemporary political and social issues. It’s all in there.
Visitors will still see the stars of tomorrow, if that’s what they’re looking for, but they’ll also get a broader view of the type of art that is being done today. This show reflects well the variety of interests and creative strategies that propel enterprising artists at this time.
Also, due to the times, it may be useful to point out that RedLine is a large space, with high ceilings and plenty of room to breathe. As you go through the galleries, it looks like a loft and walks lightly, especially on weekdays. So, anyone looking to maintain a safe distance from others during the current pandemic might find a comfortable place to admire art.
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