5 Artists Behind The Fun Works Dotting This Denver Area

ART + CULTURE | BY | October 22, 2018

Led by cofounder Molly Casey, Denver art advisory firm Nine dot Arts curated and commissioned more than 700 original pieces by 31 Front Range artists to infuse Denver’s Dairy Block with a strong sense of place; their creations are displayed throughout the vibrant mixed-use area. Here, we meet a few whose work has made a splash.

KAREN FISHER

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PHOTO: ANDREW BORDWIN PHOTOGRAPHY

Although the Denver artist primarily works in 2-D mixed media, Karen Fisher was asked to transform her artistry into wall-size pieces for the Maven hotel’s two spacious Innovator suites. Before painting Mod Maude (shown) and Maeve, she sent Casey images of fashion models and Gustav Klimt paintings, promising bold compositions that would marry the two. “The resulting images of urban women are unexpected, just as doing a mural in a hotel room is unexpected,” Casey says. “With these works, Karen is going to be making a bigger splash than anyone expected.”

TRAVIS HETMAN

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PHOTO: PAUL BROKERING

Covering two adjacent walls with more than 300 framed artworks in the Maven is Travis Hetman’s Dark Matter Gathering, for which Hetman collected black-and-white photographs–some taken in downtown Denver more than a century ago. He cut tiny shapes in the images, embellishing the voids with hand-painted “dark-matter clusters,” suggesting glimpses of an alternate universe. The installation came together organically on site, its culmination in a pile on the floor a demonstration of his theory of an expanding universe that will eventually collapse on itself, literally and figuratively.

EMANUEL MARTINEZ

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PHOTO: ADAM LARKEY

Rooted in the artist’s mestizo culture, Denver’s Emanuel Martinez’s Homage to Maize: The Staff of Life is a perfect fit for the Dairy Block’s Kachina Cantina restaurant, which takes inspiration from Mexico and the American Southwest. The mural juxtaposes blue ears of corn with a contemporary woman, her native landscape reflected in her sunglasses. Taking a cue from late Colorado muralist Allen Tupper True, Martinez painted this acrylic mural on a canvas mounted to the wall, so if the restaurant changes, the art can be preserved.

LADIES FANCYWORK

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PHOTO: LADIES FANCYWORK AND WEIDMANN

Since 2007, Denver-based crochet-street-art gang Ladies Fancywork has been yarn-bombing Front Range spots with small- and large-scale fiber installations. At Kachina Cantina, four of the society’s members wrapped a sculptural salvaged tree–reconstructed by artist Greg Elledge–with a rainbow of crocheted fibers ranging from acrylic yarn to nylon that spiral down onto the floor. The untitled piece subtly references Navajo and Pueblo weavings and the harsh beauty of the Southwestern landscape.

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RENDERING, PELLI CLARKE PELLI ARCHITECTS

Coming this fall, New York’s Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects will introduce 138 East 50th, an 800-foot-tall residential tower with about 3,000 square feet per floor. “We amplified the massing’s low relief with folds of tall, rippling terra-cotta panels contrasting in direction and color,” says Craig Copeland, associate partner. “The inspiration came from studying and echoing the qualities of prominent Art Deco neighbors, like the Chrysler and Fuller buildings.”

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