The Untitled Series at the Denver Art Museum Is Changing Direction in 2020

Every year the Denver Art Museum (DAM) usually chooses 12 artists to creatively take over the museum once a month with art installations in a series called Untitled. This year, the program will be reimagined — happening only four times in 2020 and encouraging collaboration between artists, with the first one occurring on January 31. Instead of just Untitled, these events will go by Untitled: Creative Fusions and will highlight two leading artists as well as dozens of their hand-picked contemporaries. Although the intention is to have one artist create an installation in each building once the renovation of the north building is completed, this time the artists are taking on one together.

The other new aspect of this reformulated approach to the creative takeover is that each Creative Fusion will be inspired by the major exhibitions coming through the museum. The first one will obviously be inspired by the Claude Monet exhibit, which ends in February after many sold-out showings. “Untitled: Creative Fusions will bring local creatives together to merge their artistic practices with the DAM’s exhibitions and artworks,” the DAM noted. All the artists who participate in each Creative Fusion will abide under one common theme and that theme will be extracted from the special exhibit inside the DAM.

Inside the Claude Monet “Truth of Nature” exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. Photo by MJ Kampe

With nature as a guide for the first one, just as nature was a guide for Monet too, the headlining artists Joshua Ware and Eileen Roscina Richardson will work together under the theme Entanglements

“Eileen and I worked together with Sarah Rockett and her team at the DAM to create a theme that engaged the current Monet exhibit, The Truth of Nature. ‘Truth’ to me always seems a bit specious; so we decided to interrogate the term for our Untitled event,” Ware commented. Entanglements, as far as Richardson and Ware could tell, was the best way to word the relationship between humans and our natural surroundings — an inextricable connection, an unrequested and troublesome relationship.

“I was inspired by Monet’s process of cultivating natural areas that he painted. This was [my] seed for the theme of Entanglements,” Richardson noted. “In my process, I grow many of the flowers that I use in my art. I was also inspired by his color pallets in his paintings of flowers, clouds and light expressed in the full-color spectrum.”

“Echoscope” by Eileen Roscina Richardson, photo courtesy of the artist

Once the theme was decided, Ware and Richardson worked together to create a collaborative sculpture. Although the two artists’ work varies in style and technique, both are sculptors in their own right — Richardson is a naturalist who works with natural materials or mimics biological processes in three-dimensional materials, whereas Ware’s interest in sculpture comes from a more functional and furniture-inspired place. But after putting their unique brains together the result was a blueprint for “an eight-foot-tall, free-standing sculpture that houses a four-foot-tall kaleidoscope” as Ware explained. It will serve as the centerpiece of the night.

Richardson and Ware, as the lead artists, were able to choose the other collaborating artists. Altogether 17 other artists are helping Ware and Richardson fabricate, conceptualize and activate the museum for the one-night-only event. Ware selected S. Juliette Lee, Sommer Browning, Phil Cordelli, Jeanne Liotta, Eric Baus, Matt Plain and Jacob Isaacs. “Most of these artists will activate my sculptural work as sites for performance and installation-based experiences,” said Ware.

“Planes of Immanence” by Joshua Ware, photo courtesy of the artist

“Collaborative making, to my mind, is an excellent way to expand my own practice and meet creative, intelligent people,” Ware commented. In a previous life, he was a writer and poet who often worked with other creative people on projects. The desire to co-create extended into his current artistic endeavors, including a recent exhibit with Suchitra Mattai at PlatteForum titled Each of us is several. “The collaborative process enables us to explore new possibilities by engaging ideas, aesthetics and materials that are not our own,” Ware went on, “it’s as much an experiment in interpersonal dynamics and ego dissolution as it is an aesthetic endeavor.” 

Inside The Inventing Room. Photo by Kyle Cooper

Richardson chose Chris Bagley, Shayna Cohn, Tiffany Matheson, Catharine McCord, Jess Parish, Process Reversal and wheatpasting duo We Were Wild. The addition of other interactive elements like a dance party from The Nightshift, live ice sculpting by Parrish, Mexican drinking chocolate from Cultura Chocolate and liquid nitrogen popcorn from The Inventing Room will curate an experience that truly immerses the participants.

“I’m most excited about the diversity of experiences that attendees will have when they come to our Untitled created through the artists’ varying interpretations of Entanglements,” said Richardson. “Joshua and I are each bringing very different types of collaborators to the table — all dancing the line of natural and synthetic — creating a thought-provoking and wildly creative evening that will certainly stimulate all of the senses.”

If you can’t make it to this first event, you’ll have three more chances to see a collaborative showcase with other creatives before 2020 is over — April 24, July 31 and October 30. Although it’s hard to say goodbye, for now, to the monthly takeovers at the DAM, this Creative Fusion series sounds like it’s going to be one hell of an artistic night.

Entanglements will occur on January 31 from 6 – 10 p.m. at the Denver Art Museum.

The full schedule of activations and events for the evening of January 31 can be found here. Untitled: Creative Fusion is included in general admission pricing.