As Denver art galleries receive the green light to re-open — one local gallery has dedicated its current exhibition to remind viewers of physical distancing guidelines. Michael Warren Contemporary — located in the Art District on Santa Fe — has opened its doors to the public again. The gallery’s latest show — titled “Six Feet Apart” — is an homage to the work of the gallery’s represented artists while also reminding admirers of the current crisis.
Unveiled on May 19, “Six Feet Apart” features key pieces from artists represented by the gallery. Artists from around the world are included in the exhibition, with many of the creatives being from Colorado. Approximately 50 of their works are on display. Whether it be paintings, sculptures or prints — the show has something for everyone. Yet what makes this presentation unique is that each piece is six feet apart from the next to not only encourage visitors to physical distance — but is also a commentary on the struggles facing the art scene. Mike McClung is the co-owner of the gallery.
“‘Six Feet Apart’ seemed like a good way to reinforce the notion that we are practicing physical distancing,” McClung explained. “Since we can’t do grand openings and celebrations, having a group exhibition allows us to show as many of the artists as we can.”
The gallery was required to improvise in order to re-open safely. Facial coverings are required in the show. The gallery removed its seating and lounge areas, but according to McClung, this only allows for more room to display the contemporary works.
The gallery has also dedicated a wall near the window for displaying “Art of the Day.” Each day, different work is swapped out and placed in view. This way, passerby and those who walk Santa Fe daily can catch a glimpse of some of the exhibition, without having to compromise their safety.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for many, but artists and gallery owners have been especially hard hit. McClung discussed how the closures have been problematic for those involved with Denver’s art scene.
“Art galleries have come to a screeching halt,” McClung explained. “Galleries have had to figure out how to continue to operate by displaying art online and through social media platforms. Since people aren’t out they aren’t buying as much art. It’s worrisome.”
Despite the struggles McClung and his team are facing — ‘Six Feet Apart’ is set to be a successful show. The works featured are some of the very best from the artists represented by the gallery. For those interested in contemporary sculpture — the show features a piece by Robert Mangold — a renowned sculptor responsible for many installations around Denver. Another sculpted piece created from paper clay can be found in the gallery — created by local artist Sara Ransford. Ransford holds an interest in natural forms and erosion — which can be clearly seen explored in her piece.
It is easy to get lost within the various pieces — all of which are mesmerizing. Lovers of contemporary art are sure to be eager to get back into this gallery. Yet the exhibition’s title is a testament to the current conditions of the fine art world. McClung emphasized that although galleries are reopening — artists still depend on the public to support their work.
“We really need to think about the value we place on arts and culture,” McClung shared. “Those things can only continue to exist if we are supporting them. The artists that we work with are career artists from all over the country. Their livelihoods depend on being able to sell the work that they create.”
‘Six Feet Apart’ is open from May 19 to June 12. Michael Warren Contemporary is located at 760 Santa Fe Dr. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Appointments are available, but walk in guests are also welcome. The exhibition is also available for viewing online. The gallery can be followed on Facebook and Instagram.
Photography by Barbara Urzua