November 4 was the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver’s) monthly Penny Admission Saturday. The first Saturday of each month the museum holds this event for Colorado residents to branch out into the community.
This month they were featuring the art of Jalisco, a central Mexican city at the heart of the Mexican art community. The museum wide exhibit, Saber Acomodar, featured over 20 artists and workshops from the area. Each of the pieces brought in elements of architecture, tradition and innovation, to create pieces that were stunning in their intricacy as well as remarkable in either their simplicity or scale.
Artists such as Cristian Franco and his group Los Nuevos Maevans put years of work and consideration into their projects. This band plays packed concerts in studded uniforms, in which they merely pretend to make music that is piped in behind them. Franco puts up posters for events that are never going to happen by artists that don’t exist. He manages a record label that sells albums found at thrift stores, and in this elaborate falsehood attempts to examine truth and belief.
Other artists in the exhibit thrive in creating meaningful pieces with a small initial impact. In Mario Garcia Torres’s piece, Untitled (Ceramica Suro,) he essentially breaks the fourth wall of ceramics. The artists working in his ceramics workshop would take notes on what paints to mix, using the numeric codes for each color, and where they should be used on the plate. Rather than using the paint, however, Garcia Torres chose to write the codes on the plates themselves in a simplistic yet conceptual piece.
There were many pieces that examined the art itself, like De Una Obra Inacabada by Jorge Mendez Blake. In a well-lit exhibit room there were pieces along the walls, a set of shelves in the center of the room, and most out of place, crumpled aluminum that looks like discarded paper from a notebook scattered across the floor. These papers are not trash, but art. Mendez Blake dedicated his work to unfinished literary works, in this case Dickens’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood. By showing such a universal symbol of writer’s block in the setting of an art exhibit, it introduced an examination of a writer’s talent and loss thereof.
His was also a series of paintings Toute Pensee Emet un Coup de Des 1 and V-VII. These paintings show tragic ships at stormy sea from literature and other artworks, but tilts the scene so that the swaying boat’s mast faces upward, turning the world and the frame at its edge and making the composition almost surreal and suspenseful. This introduction of chaotic madness makes the already wild scene more turbulent and uncertain.
MCA Denver also hosts a room dedicated to teen artwork. High School art students from Denver area schools such as Greeley West and Columbine showcased their work in the Teen Lounge, where the theme was Natural Disaster. These pieces highlighted everything from drowning to tornados, to political tragedy and scientific mistakes.
As always, MCA Denver creates a platform for artists who are unafraid to push boundaries. Sometimes it’s comical, like in the case of Mathias Goertiz’s gold painted sheet of metal that begs the question “is this actually art?” But other works introduce new meaning or reveal hidden wealth of objects and compilations, telling of human nature and cultural truth. Saber Acomodar is on view until January 21, giving you two more penny admission days to check out Jalisco’s wonders.