By Matt DeLong
A few weeks before Christmas 2013 I was given an early gift in the form of a refreshing view on art and commerce. I sat down with Pedro Barrios and Tran Wills, co-owners of the anything-but-ordinary Super Ordinary Gallery.
Located inside The Source, an open-air market found in Denver’s River North District and occupying a former 1880’s brick foundry building, Super Ordinary is a unique take on artisan shops and galleries. As one first approaches the gallery/shop hybrid the first thing they notice is the energy. As patrons glide through The Source–shopping, dining, drinking, socializing or all of the above–you can’t help but notice that this is something different. Filled with provoking aromas and taken by the exposed brick and galvanized steel, conversations float through the air around you and you feel welcome. Set apart from the feeling of being out of your league or under dressed–as one may feel at most galleries–as you approach Super Ordinary you feel welcome.
In the front half of Super Ordinary you find a display of well-crafted and extremely creative goods. Ranging from hand-painted skate decks to polished stone jewelry and everything in between, there is something for everyone–all crafted by very particular someones. This truly is an artist’s gallery with a shopper’s taste in mind, for in the back half of the space is a display of beautiful artwork in a no less stunning gallery setting.
When asked if this is a retail space with a gallery or a gallery with retail space Pedro responds quite simply, “Both. It’s 50/50 black area, white area. White being your traditional gallery type setting.” Going on to explain, “that’s why the gallery is in the back and white; and it’s bright and it’s open, with nothing between you and the art. I always kind of wanted the art to be the main drawing factor, but it works both ways. It just depends on the patron or client. Those that come in not even planning on looking at art end up spending an extended amount of time; and now they’re in there, and they’re appreciating the artist and the art.”
This unique symbiotic relationship between the two spaces begs the question, why call it Super Ordinary? Turns out Tran and her husband, along with two friends from San Francisco had a blog called “We are Super Ordinary.” As time went on the name remained. “We just loved that name,” Tran explains. “We’ve always loved contradictory names, just poking fun and having fun. Obviously we are serious, but nothing is ordinary about this. The people who own this and are a part of this– none of them are ordinary at all.”
When I was in the store, Paul Michel was doing a show titled “Still Winter.” His pieces from this show had already almost sold out. A provocative and inviting space without the intimidation of a traditional gallery, this very extraordinary location seems to be quite the pleaser for patrons and artists alike.