Union Hall Gives Exposure To Local Artists and Curators in Rough Gems Program

Beginning on Jan. 19, Union Hall, the non-profit art exhibition space located inside The Coloradan, introduced the fourth annual Rough Gems program with three new exhibitions which will run through April 22. 

Rough Gems is a collaborative curatorial program organized every year to give local emerging curators and artists a platform and chance to display their work. Union Hall will showcase three Denver-based curators in the rotating pop-up series.

Noticing a gap in opportunity for curators to present their work, receive stipends and reviews and be awarded funds, Union Hall is making an effort to bridge that gap through Rough Gems by supporting local emerging artists with diverse voices.

“The goal of this ambitious rotating exhibition series is to showcase local curatorial and artistic talent by turning over Union Hall’s gallery space to emerging curators, inviting them to share an exhibition in an active and experimental environment, and providing them tangible support in the form of time, space, mentorship and funds,” said Union Hall’s Chief Curator Esther Hz.

Through Rough Gems, Union Hall is able to provide access to stipends, mentorship, planning support, installation, de-installation assistance, marketing support, press outreach and staffing to curators. 

Photo by Jess Díaz, “St. Marys Lake Triptych,” 2022. Featured in Sacrum

Curatorial teams for the Rough Gems program are chosen through open-call proposals. This year, the three teams consist of Jenny Nagashima, Nadiya Jackson and Florence Blackwell, and Shawn Simmons.

The current exhibition, Sacrum, curated by Jenny Nagashima, will run through Feb. 11. Sacrum “unravels the layers of intimacy surrounding the universal yet unnamable sensations experienced in the womb and the complications that arise in the pursuit of recreating those feelings in our daily lives.” The exhibition features work by artists Ariella Asher, Emily Zeek, Jess Díaz, Jenna Annunziato, Kimberly Bianca and Summer Jean King.

On Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m., Union Hall is hosting a curatorial talk and exhibition tour with Nagashima and Hz, where they will talk through the concepts, inspiration and chosen works of Sacrum. Feb. 11 will be the final day to view Sacrum.

Photo by Xavley, “Black Liberation Army Member Ojore Lutalo at the Graduate Cincinnati,” 2022. Featured in The Ultimate Boon

After Sacrum, the opening reception for the next exhibition, The Ultimate Boon, will be held on Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. Co-curated by Nadiya Jackson and Florence Blackwell, The Ultimate Boon features the work of six artists who have “utilized their art to navigate various life-altering experiences to reach their boon.” Boon can be described as a thing that is helpful or beneficial.

Through this exhibition, viewers will be immersed in the artists’ stories while also looking within themselves to find their personal “Ultimate Boon.” The exhibition will showcase the works of artists Azjhion Brown, Coltyn Cody, Lizeth Guadalupe, Xavier Hadley, Isaac Jordan Lee and Eduardo Vazquez until March 18.

Photo by Frankie Toan, “Holding Hands (Flowers and Vines).”

The final exhibition of 2023’s Rough Gems program will begin on March 30, with Against Nature’s opening reception at 6 p.m. Curated by Shawn Simmons, Against Nature “explores the emerging field of queer ecology in response to prevailing ideas of human versus nature.” Against Nature includes art by Dennis Doyle, Eden Kinkaid, Corinne Teed, Frankie Toan and Ginger Brooks Takahashi. The last day to see Against Nature is April 22.

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