Originally built as a private residence in 1908, the Colorado Governor’s Mansion on Eighth Avenue in Denver has served as a home for the state’s governors since 1960 — until Jared Polis. When he was elected in 2018, he announced his decision to stay in his Boulder home with his partner Marlon Reis and their two children, unless he needed to stay overnight in Denver during legislative sessions. Even though Polis’ decision to live exclusively outside the mansion is somewhat unusual*, his interest in contemporary art has led to a unique event that will benefit the Governor’s Residence Preservation Fund (GRPF). On Thursday, June 13, local art gallery K Contemporary will host a one-night-only art event at the mansion, featuring the work of notable Colorado artists in specific rooms.
Titled In Response, this group show allowed each artist to react to the history of the house through their own creative enterprises, creating pieces specifically designed for their chosen room. The opulence, elegance and eminence of the historic building fueled their processes, setting the stage for each to respond through the experience of art.
With the esoteric and philosophical works of Jonathan Saiz — a local artist who is currently displaying 10,000 tiny pieces at the Denver Art Museum — we expect to see something both beautiful and haunting in its messaging. With UK-born Sarah Winkler, we expect to engage with a large mixed media landscape painting that feels both futuristic and ancient. With Suchitra Mattai‘s work, we know there will be an undercurrent that connects colonial history with its modern-day consequences. And with Shawn Huckins, we will laugh at his cheekiness in tying together something as contemporary as text-slang with portraits of George Washington.
Each artist will pay homage to the Governor’s Mansion as a landmark, but they will also transform the space into an art gallery unlike most others — a fusion of old and new. Drinks and appetizers inspired by the artists’ creations will be served as well. Coco Criste, with the GRPF, mentioned that “A major part of this event was due to Governor Polis’ interest in contemporary art. That sparked the dialogue with K Contemporary, and it’s been wonderful working with Doug [Kacena] to curate the event.” The proceeds from the ticket sales, as well as the sale of the art, will go toward the GRPF, which in turn funds public programs that are offered for free — like the guided tours of the first floor of the residence.
All of the pieces will be on the first floor, which is where the public tours operate, and the Governor and First Gentleman will be in attendance during the VIP hour from 5 to 6 p.m. Tickets are available for both the VIP admission and General Admission (from 6 to 8 p.m.) here.
*Editor’s note: the first version of this story said that Governor Polis is the first Governor to live outside the mansion, but other Governors have lived only part-time in the mansion, making that statement inaccurate.