UCD students strut their stuff at Emmanuel
Abstraction gets nods from Denver juror
Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 00:03
The yearly CU Denver Juried Student Exhibition at Auraria’s Emmanuel Gallery is when the boys and girls of UCD’s Visual Arts department come out to play—an exciting event for the bright artists of tomorrow.
“I have to say, this show gets better every year,” Lanny DeVuono, chair of the Visual Arts department, said to the crowd at the exhibit’s opening. The pieces on display, chosen by Michael Chavez, manager for the Denver Public Art Collection, belie the freshness and grassroots perspective of the young artists.
“We ask an outside juror to decide Best Of Show, for several reasons,” DeVuono said. “One, we don’t want to have teachers’ biases. But for another, we really feel it’s important that students’ work gets introduced to the larger community.”
“We really wanted three Best Of Show and two Juror’s Choice [awards],” said Shannon Corrigan, the curator for the Emmanuel Gallery. “But he liked so many more pieces, that we have two Honorable Mentions as well. It’s a nice nod from the juror, saying, ‘I liked your work.’”
Much of the work is blunt, even skin-crawlingly obvious. The most ostentatious piece in the show is Laura Phelps Roger’s “Trivial Expectations,” a menagerie of differently colored lumps, festooned with bronze nipples, spilling out of a hot pink drawer. An ornate mirror hangs above.
But the earnestness and lack of cynicism at this exhibition is indeed refreshing. Walter Ware III ran off with Chavez’s Best In Show prize; “John Henry 2012” is a gold-hued bust of a black man with a heart-sized hole in his chest, signifying the mythical steel driver’s fatal wound. It asks, boldly, what do we owe our modern John Henrys?
Most pieces err on the side of colorful abstraction, unsurprising given that Chavez curates the loose and multihued McNichols building at Civic Center Park.
The pick of the abstract litter was Honorable Mention winner “Do You Know Where The Papoose Is?” by Jennifer Hendrick, one of her two paintings that leaves viewers to divine their own patterns in a canvas oozing with chunky globs of psychedelic paint. Not coincidentally, it was one of the pieces on display that people felt the urge to brazenly touch.
More restrained works won big as well, with UCD freshman Samantha Weston’s black and white charcoal composition, “Photos Of Time,” netting a Juror’s Prize. “In high school, I did a lot of really colorful art, and lately this year I’ve been doing a lot of black and white. I hadn’t worked much with charcoals, so it was an experiment, and I really liked how it turned out,” Weston said.
Under the direction of Corrigan and crew, the Emmanuel has excelled as both a campus-focused institution and a tastemaker when it comes to local and visiting artists. Though these student shows are as inevitable as the sunrise, they will always be antidotes to today’s over-polished swells of modern art.
The CU Denver Juried Student Exhibition runs until April 4. The Emmanuel Gallery is open from Tuesday to Saturday, and closed during Spring Break.