Do you like looking at art, but feel as if you can’t afford anything original for your own home? If that’s the case, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA) wants to fix it, at least temporarily. They’ve just announced the “Octopus Initiative” — a program where local Denver artists create original works of art for a lending library that anyone in Metro Denver can borrow from for up to one year. Launching with a party on March 15, 2018, where penny admission lets you in for just one cent between 4 and 9 p.m., the Octopus Initiative deserves a standing ovation for its inventiveness and inclusiveness. The idea comes from a desire from many in the art community to make art collecting, purchasing and appreciating more approachable.

To start, MCA will commission (with funds from the $18 million Elevated Heartbeat campaign) 20 Denver artists to create works to include in the lending library. Then, anyone who lives in Metro Denver can choose their favorites and apply for a lottery through an online system. April 15, 2018 marks the first date to apply for the lottery. The winners become lucky temporary owners of one of the pieces to display in their very own apartment or home. Currently, participating artists include Derrick Velasquez, Chris Oatey, Laura Shill, Suchitra Mattai, Molly Bounds and Sierra Montoya Barela. In the future expect to see work from artists Viviane LeCourtois, Clark Richert and Diego Rodriguez-Warner. Rodriguez-Warner’s work can currently be seen at MCA Denver for his first museum show, Honestly Lying. 

READ: Three Artists Transformed the MCA Inside and Out

“The Octopus Initiative, which both supports the artists in our community and gives wide audiences an unprecedented level of direct experience with serious art, symbolizes everything we are trying to do in the next phase of growth by broadening the ways that art enriches the life of our city,” said Adam Lerner, the Mark G. Falcone director and chief animator.

MCA Denver, Octopus Initiative

A rendering of the newly designed space. Photo courtesy of MCA

The lending library will be on view to museum visitors in a newly renovated space. Projected estimates say this space will display up to 75 works of art at any given time. By 2020 the MCA expects 500 works of art by 20 different Denver artists. Each work will be framed and made with a custom carrying case for safe transport between the museum and the foster homes. According to the press release, “by offering these long-term loans, the program strives to better connect Denver residents to the artists living and working in Denver,” while also changing the way people interact with art in a museum setting. 

Aside from the exciting possibility for displaying museum-quality art in your private residence, the Octopus Initiative also puts money in the hands of local artists. It bolsters the art community by paying the 20 artists for work that might never find a home otherwise. “The generosity provided by MCA Denver and the Octopus Initiative has opened a world of possibilities for me artistically and financially,” commented artist Derrick Velasquez. “However, beyond this, the mission of the Octopus Initiative was the driving force behind the creation of the new work — it is an unprecedented move to put art in the hands of many while also putting significant money in the hands of Denver artists.”

If you want to have the chance to borrow one of these works of art, you don’t even need to leave your couch. MCA designed a web application that shows all pieces of art in the lending library with options for you to “heart” a particular piece, register and apply for the lottery without ever stepping foot in the museum. With the Octopus Initiative, MCA Denver is taking steps in a brave new direction from the traditional norms of art galleries and museums.

For more information, visit MCA Denver’s website.

One Response

  1. Cece

    I think that this is a wonderful opportunity for Denver to show how caring it is and all of these wonderful artists can show their work and get noticed and credited.


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