Sasha de Koninck
Lauri Lynnxe Murphy
Emilie Upczak & Nicholas Emery
The popular exhibition “Made in Colorado” returns to the Emmanuel Art Gallery and the CU Denver Experience Gallery to kick off the summer season. Featuring works from artists all across Colorado, this year’s exhibition takes visitors on a journey through paintings, sculpture, textiles, photography, moving images, and mixed-media work. An opening celebration is scheduled for May 20, 2023 from 5-8pm.
“The joy of the show is that well known, commercially successful artists sit alongside artists that have never shown work before,” says Nora Halpern, one of two guest curators who selected the works featured in this year’s iteration of “Made in Colorado.”
This year’s exhibition features 45 artists. For show curators Halpern and Kerry Brougher, deciding which pieces to include was a “long, hard process,” says Halpern. The two considered over 1,400 pieces and managed to narrow it down to the roughly 50 pieces that now adorn the Emmanuel Art Gallery and the CU Denver Experience Gallery.
“Made in Colorado” is a reboot of the popular annual showcase of Denver artists called Zip 802. The name refers to the first three numbers of Denver’s zip codes, and the showcase was designed to highlight the incredible artwork being produced in Denver during a time when the rising cost of living—and with that studio rent—was forcing a lot of artists out of the 802 area. The last time the Emmanuel Gallery was able to host “Made in Colorado” was in 2018, the pandemic having scuttled plans for the projected 2020 show. “We’re thrilled to have Made in Colorado back for 2023,” says Emmanuel Gallery Director Jeff Lambson. The pandemic caused the gallery to shift its schedule, and Lambson says having so many talented artists from across the state back in the gallery this year for one of their largest exhibitions is heartening. Lambson explains the timing of the exhibition is significant as well:
Resurrecting the Zip 802 show was important to us as a gallery and University. It highlights the incredible artists in our region, and it’s exciting for us that the show will be on view during the annual conference of American Alliance of Museums, where thousands of museum professionals from across the country will gather in Denver and get a chance to see the important and compelling work being made in Colorado.
Both Halpern and Brougher acknowledge that much of the work on display in this year’s exhibition was made during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. “I think it will be interesting to look at the art that comes out of the last few years,” says Halpern.
In this year’s show, a unique piece by artist Tobias Fike incorporates sculpture, an electronic device, and a bird whistle and features a sound recording. Fike made the recording at The Tank in Rangely, Colorado, a mecca for musicians and sound engineers. Using a simple bird whistle, and thanks to the amazing acoustics in the Tank, Fike produced an amazing recording. Both Brougher and Halpern were really impressed by the piece. “I don’t like to see artists being derivative of other contemporary artists, but [Fike’s work] really seemed to be extending the art form in terms of sound and assemblage,” says Brougher.
Halpern and Brougher both have long, respected careers in the art world. The couple is married and despite their decades-long careers in curation, have never curated a show together before “Made in Colorado.” Halpern jokes that they couldn’t even agree on the art they hang in their own house, yet they were both pleasantly surprised by how much their choices overlapped in this decision process. They looked through all 1,400+ submissions separately and then came together to deliberate. “Nora and I bring something different to the table. I think it provides a far-reaching overview of what’s possible in art,” says Brougher.
Halpern’s professional background includes curation along with art-related policy making. Recently, Halpern was selected to serve on President Biden’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, work which she will start engaging in this summer. Since 2001, she has been a vice president at Americans for the Arts, focusing on arts policy convenings and engaging individual thought leaders to advance the arts and arts education across America. She is also co-founder of Street Scenes: Projects for DC, a public art program that provides access to the broadest possible audience by utilizing the city as a gallery space. For this reason, she appreciates the location of the Emmanuel Art Gallery on the Auraria Campus, a place that sees a lot of “non-art foot traffic” and subsequently has the potential to draw people who perhaps wouldn’t otherwise step into an art gallery.
Halpern says she hopes “Made in Colorado” opens people’s minds to new interpretations of what makes a piece an artwork. “I think the arts suffer from a sort of bad marketing because we’re seen as ‘other.’ Art is seen as being an elitist thing that is only for a certain segment of society.” When in reality, Halpern explains, art is intrinsic to every part of our lives—a fact she believes the COVID-19 pandemic reminded us.
Brougher’s background has spanned art history, film history, and media. A long tenure at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. gave way to Brougher becoming the Founding Director of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. Now as Curator Emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., Brougher is an independent curator and writer focusing on art, film, and media.
This year’s exhibition will remind those that say “No one paints anymore” that they do, in fact, says Brougher. He was encouraged by the artists in the exhibition who took on difficult social issues and concerns and were able to “do a nice job with it.” Brougher also appreciates when artists take the risk to do something progressive with the media they’re working with. In this way, they “push the envelope on what an artwork can be and what it can be composed of,” he says.
“Made in Colorado” is on display in the Emmanuel Art Gallery (located on the Auraria Campus) and the CU Denver Experience Gallery (located in the Denver Performing Arts Complex) May 20 through July 21, 2023. An opening celebration, to include comments by Brougher, will be held Saturday May 20th from 5 to 8pm at both galleries. Please check the respective galleries’ sites for other open days and times throughout the summer.
Article by Megan Briggs
Art historian, educator, and curator Nora Halpern has spent her public and private life advocating for art, artists, and social justice. Since 2001, she has been a vice president at Americans for the Arts, focusing on arts policy convenings and engaging individual thought leaders to advance the arts and arts education across America. She is co-founder of Street Scenes: Projects for DC, a public art program that provides access to the broadest possible audience by utilizing the city as a gallery space. Raised in New York City, Halpern began her career in Los Angeles as the Frederick R. Weisman Collections Curator and Founding Director of Pepperdine University’s art museum. She was a Los Angeles Human Relations Commission member and received the Mayor’s Award of Merit for Outstanding Volunteer Service. Nora was recently selected to serve on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
Halpern has taught and lectured internationally. Among her publications is the recent Putting the Arts to Work: 15 Years of National Arts Policy Roundtables, 2006-2020. She has curated numerous exhibitions, including a Yoko Ono retrospective in Venice, Italy. Halpern has served on the boards of the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, ArtTable, PS Arts, and Scholastic’s Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, among others. She was appointed to the Arts Commission of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2021. Halpern received her BA and MA from UCLA and was awarded a Helena Rubinstein Fellowship in Curatorial Studies from the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program.
Kerry Brougher is Curator Emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and an independent curator and writer focusing on art, film, and media. He is the Founding Director of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, where he worked with Renzo Piano on the design of the building. For fourteen years, Brougher was the Chief Curator of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C, where he also served as Deputy Director and Interim Director. Before the Hirshhorn, Brougher was the Director of the Museum of Modern Art Oxford in England (now known as Modern Art Oxford) and was a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles during its formative years.
Along with significant retrospectives and projects by artists such as Tacita Dean, Robert Irwin, Yves Klein, Wolfgang Laib, Maria Nordman, Ed Ruscha, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Jeff Wall, Brougher is known for his numerous thematic exhibitions, many focusing on film and media, such as Hall of Mirrors: Art and Film Since 1945; Notorious: Alfred Hitchcock and Contemporary Art; Open City: Street Photographs Since 1950; Visual Music: Synaesthesia in Art and Music Since 1900; The Cinema Effect: Illusion, Reality, and the Moving Image; and Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950. While at the Hirshhorn, Brougher acquired numerous works for the museum, including 39 minimal and conceptual pieces from Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo's collection, and initiated a focus on acquiring film, video, and photography. He commissioned filmmaker Jordan Belson’s last work, Epilogue, and Doug Aitken’s monumental SONG 1, a 360-degree moving image projection onto the Hirshhorn’s circular facade. Brougher, who has received numerous awards for his exhibitions and publications, was Co-Artistic Director of the 5th Gwangju Biennale in South Korea.