The most radical thing artists can do? Show art, like Denver’s Leisure

Ian Thomas Miller's "One Foot in the Grave & the Other on a Banana Peel" opens tonight.

From "Room With A View," by Molly Bounds, at Leisure. Photo from Leisure.

Ignorance from the public has hurt Denver’s creative culture. The young and creative have contributed to the genuine richness of this city but their contributions have been unrecognized by those not paying close attention. They act as models to look at for anything original, they seek out new ways to do things when pure curiosity propels them forward. Let’s take the time to acknowledge the people who deserve it.

Artists Janice Schindler, Dillon Kogle, Zach Reini and Cyd Wilkes are working hard. In addition to their day jobs, they run Leisure, a studio and gallery on Denver’s Santa Fe Drive. Leisure is a place where usually young and unrepresented artists come through to show their work in pop-up exhibitions. They also arrange music shows. The artists at Leisure volunteer their time and they make no profit whatsoever; however, they are able to provide the community with first looks at bright ideas.

This has proven crucial to manifesting art culture in the local scene. Molly Bounds, for example, first exhibited her murals and paintings at Leisure before she was exhibited in the basement of the MCA. Past resident Josh Gondrez had arranged for artists Scott Agnew, Agnes Bolt and Nina Sarnell from The Institute of New Feeling to stop at Leisure for “The Felt Book” tour before RMCAD asked them to be lecturers at “The Senses” series this academic year.

 

Ian Miller’s “One Foot in the Grave & the Other on a Banana Peel” is the current show at Leisure. Photo from Leisure.

Leisure is good at spotting talent. They like being able to give a space to artists while they are at the beginning of their career, and provide opportunity for those who are not yet commercially influenced.

This collective of artists practices professionalism well, and they do it by their own high standards. Artists who are not traditionally trained, as well as those who are, have been given the credit of hanging work in Leisure’s gallery.

Leisure offers itself to those who may not have had the opportunity in exhibiting their work elsewhere,
 where they might have been held back by their lack of formal education or experience. The caliber of work does not, however, waver because of this, and perhaps Leisure should be applauded for that – especially when heavy weight is placed on credentials, which tend to favor the privileged. They have the ability to trust their own judgements and tastes because they have the freedom of answering to no one. They are an example of social responsibility, where they practice openness without sacrificing seriousness.

During the time when an exhibition is not installed, Leisure is a studio space for working artists. Since so many people are involved, everything is “up in the air,” and sometimes it’s slow getting things done. It is owed to communication and perseverance that this system seems to have worked out for them. There’s also an amount of self-consciousness involved with writing their own rules; and although they have mentors, like Valerie Santerli, Director of Rule Gallery, as well as Cortney Lane Stell, Director and Curator of Black Cube Museum, Leisure follows in no one’s footsteps. A good deal of humility and resourcefulness keeps this unique Denver gallery alive, where their survival and success so far relies on the people who have trusted them to be who they are.

“Crisis of the Real” was a collaborative exhibition by Kelia Anne and Luca Venter exhibited earlier at Leisure..

Leisure might perceive themselves as moving at a leisurely pace, but they’re able to host events and exhibitions they are excited for. You can look at Leisure’s website, as well as purchase some goods made by past artists here: leisure.studio,  or contact them for info at [email protected]

I can’t wait to see you around.

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