The Denver Arts Museum

Colorado Watch List 2010


The Denver Biennial of the Americas happens July 1-31, and “The Dissolve” SITE Santa Fes 8th International Biennial opens June 20. Two very different takes. SITE has established itself institutionally by hosting a prominent contemporary art biennial, and this year the curators are next generation Rob Storr proteges: Sarah Lewis and Daniel Belasco. The kunsthalle will be transformed by starchitect David Adjaye and the all-video-creating artists are some of the most prominent in contemporary art–including William Kentridge, Maria Lassnig, Oscar Muñoz, Raymond Pettibon, Cindy Sherman and Kara Walker. The Denver Biennial promises to be a biennial unlike any other, but what that means is yet to be seen now that visionary idea man Bruce Mau is out, and its not clear that his tome, Massive Change, will guide the biennials thinking on urbanism and environment.


Can the new energy economy gain ground in Colorado and New Mexico? Will wind turbines and solar power change not only how we use energy, but the economic development of Western States? Will green energy be more than a fashion statement — as it is at Las Vegas City Center — and become commonplace? And will our elected officials be able to bring new jobs to our states and the country and fend off the right wing attack in November elections?


Institutionally, the curatorial programming at MCA/Denver has us waiting to see what chief animator Adam Lerner and his invited curatorial friends can pull off in 2010. How will he push the limits and make contemporary art humorous and “fun” for new audiences? Will there be more than just a play on words like the title of the first show opening January 29, 2010: “Looking for the Face I Had Before the World Was Made.” Described as “six solo exhibitions,” it includes: “Before the face. Beneath the surface. Beyond reason.” Featuring Samuel Beckett, Michaël Borremans, Eric & Heather ChanSchatz, Lorraine OGrady, A.G. Rizzoli and William Stockman.


Will Colorado create a viable strategic plan for building and supporting its creative economy — and how broad will the state and stakeholders go in casting the net to define creative enterprise? Manufacturers of outdoor gear and clothing? Breweries and wineries? Yurt design? And will it really help the individual creative — and not just organizations or corporations?


Will Christoph Heinrich maintain the status quo at DAM or will he put his own stamp on the museum and what will that look like? Can he continue to pound away at the entrenched viewpoint of those who dislike the Libeskind building and make it a place for showing art — more than a place attempting to be art?


With continued predictions of decreased foundation funding for the arts and cutbacks to the state budget and Colorado Council on the Arts grant-making program, how will small nonprofits remake themselves to survive the economy? The passion of creative enterprise is not something to be questioned and organizations with strong leaders, clear objectives and the ability to be flexible in times of change often find themselves as the mavericks, developing new ways to bring art and culture to the public. What will they come up with under pressure?

These are some of the questions rolling around in my head. I look forward to watching the answers unfold as the new year progresses.

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