Hidden away in the basement of a nondescript frame shop in a strip mall off S. Colorado Blvd is a gem of an underground art show, and you wouldn’t even know it. Curated by local collage artist Samuel Mata Ruiz, “Lifestyle III: Shrines” culls together artists of various media to touch on the subjects of sacred spaces, individuality, gentrification, or “nothing at all.” It’s a tall order to incorporate all such themes in a concentrated manner, but that doesn’t seem like quite the intent. The show works rather well as a snapshot of certain elements of north Denver’s art scene: raw and wild at times, refined and witty at others. ABC Custom Framing is hosting the event in their newly renovated basement — a beautiful and cavernous dream for Denver’s urban contemporary art urchins — and it’s the perfect space for this type of show. Better yet, it’s a reminder that art and culture don’t have to be relegated to certain parts of town, and that despite gentrifying forces, art-makers will persist.
Here’s a statement from “Lifestyle III: Shrines” curator Samuel Mata Ruiz:
“The show is up to view during [ABC Custom Framing] regular business hours 10 am-6 pm Monday thru Saturday. The show will be up thru the end of February and an artist closing reception party is planned for Saturday March 3. To purchase work anyone can ask the ABC employees for details. Also, I’ve included everyone’s IG on the list print out so that the artists can be directly contacted by potential buyers.
The theme for Lifestyle as an art show started in 2013 as a way to reflect on the coming changes to the city while living in an artist community next to Rhinoceropolis and Glob on Brighton Blvd in Denver, CO. It was a way to comment on the gentrification happening outside of our control in a way that both welcomed it while at the same time taking a stance against it by showcasing the spirit of underground ‘do it yourself’ artists and local street people, the ones who helped create the appeal and allure of a once forgotten, crumbling part of the city, and to say that this mentality and these artists and ideas are still here, alive and strong with a DIY spirit at its core.
The first Lifestyle group show was at Rhino Vapes, a vape shop that was open for just a short time on Brighton Blvd.
The second Lifestyle group show was at The Filling Station dive bar also on Brighton Blvd. With the help of my friend Colin Ward we converted the empty side of their building into a gallery and called it Station Gallery.
Both The Filling Station and Rhino Vapes buildings have since been demolished and in their place now sits a seven story building for Catalyst Health Tech.
The first two Lifestyle shows were less focused on identity and the ‘self’ as individual. Although all Lifestyle shows have had the same vibe, Lifestyle III- Shrines encouraged a deeper perspective on the self as a person, as an artist, a sacred space, a temple-shrine of the ‘self’ as offerings in the midst of so much change and uncertainty in order to reclaim ‘identity,’ creativity and passion from forces that seek to rob us of it and define it for us, a way to take back the ‘self’ and not let others, society or cultural norms tell us who or what we are. In the wake of gentrification, a fractured art and music community, tumultuous social/political unrest, Lifestyle III – Shrines attempts to regain an intellectual sense of compassion towards the state of the world around us to help illustrate the power we all have over the reality we experience and to connect people in that experience in order to gain personal and interpersonal growth, for gaining understanding, to see past the noise and envision a larger picture beyond the commercialized, branded and fetishized lifestyle identity memes that plague our consumptive behavior.”
Photos are from the opening reception of “Lifestyle III: Shrines.” Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.