Pre-Text n.1

November 30th - December 22nd, 2018

Featured artists: Jordan Gravely, Lucas Thomas, Viviane LeCourtois, Donald Fodness, Holly Nordeck, Jordan Knecht, Matt Plain, George P. Pérez, Kristen Hatgi Sink, Noah Travis Phillips.

The absence on an otherwise empty plot of land can be regarded as full of the most precious of resources: potential. This potential can manifest a library, a community garden, a bar, an apartment complex, or a parking lot. However, these potentials cannot all be actualized simultaneously. On this specific plot of land, one project will manifest while the rest remain in a hinterland of sorts, perhaps partly made substance in the form of a preliminary sketch or to-scale model, or perhaps only inscribed on the grey matter of a mind shrouded from an outside world, guaranteed its own small piece of real-estate for a limited time. 

This matter-of-fact, or fact-of-matter, that objects occupy space and that occupied space is proportionately reduced in potential, incentivizes something of a competition. What potential gets to be actualized? What is the process that allows for an idea to become implicated in a physical or social medium? This is a question of economics. The value of that space and the substances that could inhabit is a reflection of this competition. Typically those with less means lose out on the bid. The value of the idea itself is no promise of its realization; it is not the basis upon which actualization is decided. However, money is not the only obstacle to making something actual. Money is an expression of social confidence, something used to orient productive energy. Fundamentally, what is needed to make an idea actual is a community. 

Pre-Text is a community forum. The context of the exhibition is one in which creators, predominately artists, are asked to meditate on potentiality. Here they present those ideas they would love to make actual, most in the form of the proposal. With the ideas thus laid bare, one can meditate upon a potential in its most raw form. One can determine for oneself what is lost, if anything, in experiencing a project in this form. This is also a context in which to make these ideas actual, if only in the collective imaginations of members of a community. 


Inventory: Autumn

October 5th - 20th, 2018

Collaborative works by Aaron Mulligan & Lucía Rodríguez

Strange how the change of the seasons can so fluidly mirror the changes in one’s life. Antithetical to the anticipation of Spring, Autumn is a season in which to take account of that which had been anticipated. Autumn is the season of conclusions. JuiceBox founders Lucía Rodríguez and Aaron Mulligan are using an opening in the gallery’s schedule, to present a meditation on the mingling of life and work they have experienced since moving to Denver. Taking advantage of the potential of the space with which they’ve grown intimate, Rodríguez and Mulligan’s exhibition is an inventory of the personal yield that the experience of change has brought them. Inventory: Autumn explores how these have affected the nature of their artistic style, their approach to authorship, and their strategies for inhabiting space. 


Mark/Build/Mark

August 3 - Sept 15, 2018

Featured Artists: Lucas Thomas, Julio Alejandro, Dalton Frizzell, Jillian FitzMaurice, Derek Blancey, Drew Austin, Thomas Scharfenberg

Repeat mark/build/mark over and over again like a mantra until the words feel like marbles in your mouth. Spit those marbles out and see what you’ve got. Mark-making remains distinct on one side while building occupies the other. In addition to these, one will find an unexpected gradient, revealing a latent family tie between the processes. 

For example, the stuff that is paint is also, after all, a blobby, very physical substance. Latent within paint is the capacity to disappear, to surrender physicality to representation. Also latent within paint is the capacity to assert physicality, to stand out as paint at the expense of illusion. Mark-making has its own gradient between the poles of illusion (image) and substance (object). 

For its own part, sculpture does have an image quality, as some approaches to sculptural composition call for, just as in illusionistic painting, an ideal position from which the composed image of the sculpture can be viewed. The gradient here is between one position (image) and in-the-round (object). 

What seems to be really so different between mark-making and object-building is the manner in which the specific medium employed effects a result. True, medium is suggestive, but insofar as every medium has a degree of flexibility, the artist retains the capacity to push into the unexpected. There is a creative tension between the medium and the intention of the artist. The most basic grammar of the artist, the variations and ambiguities of that grammar, is implicit in the medium, and is suggestive of something common to mark-making and object-building. 

This is an exhibition that celebrates that which is shared, the common ancestor, and all the potential evolutions thereof. 



A Harder Soft

June 8 - July 21, 2018

Featured artists: 
Jon P. Geiger, Matthew Harris, Stephanie Kantor, Noah Travis Phillips, Don Porcella, Gretchen Marie Schaefer, Sarah Schlesinger.

Does anyone actually care where a vase fits into the hierarchy of the arts? Further, does the concept of the “hierarchy of the arts” actually still mean anything? No doubt it had meant a great deal in the past, defining the aesthetics of art history’s most recognized epochs. One might recall the Renaissance debates about whether painting or sculpture was the “higher” art, with painting coming out on top due to a perceived distinction between work with the hands and work with the mind. This classist distinction between different forms of labour also placed poetry above sculpture. Painting remained on top when the hierarchy was readdressed during the 18th century, when the concept of “fine art”, art for the purpose of cultivation of taste, first emerged. 

Something changed in the 20th century, however, due to increasing criticism of Western traditions. While so many modernists fought to challenge the passive acceptance of traditions of painting, post-modernists, second-wave feminists in particular, started to challenge the hierarchy of the arts itself. The classist distinctions between work with hands and work with mind, fine art and practical art, were found to coexist with notions of women’s work and primitivism. The use of medium in, for example, Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party is not to be considered just the vehicle through which a confrontational message is delivered. The medium itself is confrontational. 

This is all to say that the post-modern erosion of the distinction between high and low arts not only changed the nature of subject matter so that an image of Katy Perry dressed like a cupcake-princess could have its place in the National Portrait Gallery, but it also liberated medium. 

So here we are in a period post-postmodern, whatever that means, where conversations about hierarchies in the arts are, to the relief of many of us, banal. Painting of course never “died” just because it got knocked from its privileged place. In an epoch marked by artists using large studios of assistants to turn out branded artworks or highly industrial processes, painting starts to look pretty craft-y too. An artist is free to comfortably jump from painting to knitting to glitchy memes. It seems that the relevant conversation is now one of how medium is communicative. 

Consider the difference between how optical blending, a way of mixing colors by putting small bits of different colors next to each other and allowing them to blend in the eye of the viewer at a distance, is affected by its manifestation in a specific medium. A tapestry and a computer screen are both examples of optical blending. A mosaic of ceramic tiles vs. ben-day dots. Medium is semantically loaded, but that baggage changes in relation to culture. A medium’s physical properties are the only constants. 

This is a conversation about our cultural disposition toward mediums. We’ve had a tradition of dividing them up in a dialectic rather than phenomenologically, with “fine art” and “craft” representing distinct categories. When we arrive at the synthesis of fine art and craft, a new disposition toward art-objects can be developed. In a way, the art-object divorced from the connotations of “fine art” or “craft” is closer to being-in-itself. 

Yet the art-object is not just being-in-itself, because it is constituted as an art-object rather than just some lump of matter that reflects light or makes noise. The art-object is imbued with intent. It has agency. What it communicates, however, need not necessarily be a discourse on how society had been oriented toward its specific medium. While this conversation remains one which mediums like textiles or ceramics are suited to participate in (history is not “behind” us, after all), they also have the potential to partake in more broad, less literal discourses. Medium has always been open, even if that openness was previously rendered invisible. 

So maybe this is also a conversation about how we do not need to have this conversation anymore. 

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