A New Pop-Up Wants to Turn Empty Storefronts Into Art Exhibits

Window shopping might now have a new description in Denver as empty storefronts turn into art exhibitions. The STOREROOM — a new art incubator-gallery-pop-up-exhibition-space — is hoping to take over vacant business locations around the city and give them to artists, starting on Saturday, November 10. The inaugural installation will take place next to Vine Street Pub and will feature the creativity of local duo — Knomad Colab. 

READ: Lighting Up a Ghost Town with Colorado Artists Knomad Colab

Katy Flaccavento and Zachary Christopher, the duo who make up Knomad Colab, are light artists. Their tools are L.E.Ds, gel filters and projectors and their canvases can be anything and anywhere. In the past, they have “painted” Red Rocks, abandoned buildings, bridges and bodies of water — using lights. These endeavors produced a kind of digital graffiti, something that was impermanent but changed the landscape dramatically. More recently, the duo has explored more permanent installations, like the 38th Street underpass project, where their signature colored light display changes according to a program they’ve coded and patterned metal screens break up the light into sections. But the newest project Knomad is working on has them incorporating shadows, using stencils to break up the projection of light in mesmerizing ways.

Photo courtesy of Knomad Colab

It is with this last tactic that Knomad prepares for the STOREROOM installation on 17th Street, titled Harlequin Night. As Knomad explained, “Harlequin Night projects a playful, colorful, and carefree spirit, while subtleties of ominous forces fade in and out.” Some of the influences for Knomad to create the installation include music (sound), the “delight, chaos and tumult of city life” and the “dynamic range of emotions experienced during the holiday season.”

As the title suggests, the installation is also inspired by the Harlequin archetype. This character came from the commedia dell’arte, an Italian theater style popular in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries and punctuated with the use of masked archetypes. Traditionally, the Harlequin has been a trickster, nimble and acrobatic, who wears a diamond-checkered ensemble. Knomad will not only use the aesthetics of the Harlequin’s costume, but they also plan to be tricksters themselves, creating illusions through the casting of light and shadow.

Since The STOREROOM is meant to reinvigorate forgotten spaces, the inclusion of Knomad as the first artists to occupy the space is a fitting decision. After all, they’ve been working under that ethos for years, especially when they were mainly lighting up abandoned buildings and ruins. Their attention to underutilized places is one of the main facets of their creativity and it fuels their design process. They hope to instill a sense of delight in passers-by, if only for a moment, and a vacant storefront window might be the best place to do that yet.

READ: Guerrilla Light Artists Illuminate Red Rocks with Digital Graffiti

Harlequin Night will be on view next to Vine Street Pub from Saturday, November 10, 2018, until the end of January 2019. The STOREROOM hopes to engage other Denver property owners in order to host other art activations, though for now the owner of Vine Street Pub, Kevin J. Daly, is the only host. Daly remarked in the press release, “Giving artists a space to create and display new works, or existing works that need a temporary home, The STOREROOM allows artists to share their voice outside of the gallery and museum world… especially in this current political and social climate, it was important for us to share space with the creative community and encourage other businesses to do the same.”

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Catch the opening between 6 and 8 p.m. on November 10 at 1700 Vine Street. The best time to view Harlequin Night after that is between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. every day. 

Are you an artist with “a passion for engaging with the public and across diverse audiences, for creating work that is visually stunning and innovative, and for adding insight and whimsy to the neighborhood?” According to the press release, you should contact Brendan Picker at storeroomdenver@gmail.com to apply for the next The STOREROOM installation. 

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