Swap Meet: Artpace and The Dikeou Collection
September 20 > December 30, 2012
ABOUT THE GUEST CURATOR
Guest curator Devon Dikeou presents Swap Meet: Artpace and The Dikeou Collection, a seminal presentation in which one of Artpace’s former International Artists-in-Residence returns to showcase contemporary work from her Denver-based collection throughout our 16,000-square-foot facility.
Operating as an extension of her curatorial publication, zingmagazine, Dikeou established The Dikeou Collection along with her brother, Pany Dikeou, in 1998. Located in the historic Colorado Building, off the 16th Street Mall in Denver, the collection is open to the public daily and features more than 300 works by contemporary artists such as Wade Guyton, Paul Ramirez Jonas, Royal Art Lodge, Lee Stoetzel, and Momoyo Torimitsu.
Drawing on her past experience as a resident artist in 2011, Dikeou has chosen to highlight some of Artpace’s less-visited spaces that she became acquainted with while living in the building during her residency. The installation extends well beyond the boundaries of the Hudson (Show)Room gallery with works in such unexpected sites as the Artpace rooftop, elevator, administrative offices, and in the Artist Workshop at 513 N. Flores.
In exchange, Artpace’s New Works Now exhibition, which features the work of five former Artpace residents (Alex de Leon, Katrina Moorhead, Katie Pell, Juan Miguel Ramos, and Lordy Rodriguez), will open in Denver on October 4, 2012, at The Dikeou Collection.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Artpace: You founded The Dikeou Collection in Denver with your brother Pany Dikeou. Can you describe the overall vision for your collection?
Dikeou: The Dikeou Collection came out of my artistic practice that has involved the varying different degrees that art is viewed—from the perspective of the viewer, the artist, the critic, and the collector. As an artist, I became aware of these perspectives during an internship at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in NYC. There, while organizing their old Artforums, I came across this project by Lucas Samaras that featured three double-page spreads of neo-abstract expressionist paintings of skeletons. The first DPS showed the full skeleton and underneath it the word “Artist”; the second DPS revealed the image of the skeleton zoomed in, and only showed the skull of the skeleton with the word “Dealer” underneath; and third DPS magnified the skull even further, so that it just showed the teeth of the skeleton. This time the word below was “Collector.” I was beginning my life as an artist then, and the Samaras project in Artforum revealed the various roles and what their roles exemplified. This dawned on me as an important and telling moment.
Since then, I have had the opportunity to revisit the project, and I realized my memory changed the written experience of the project: “Artist” was not originally part of the triumvirate—“Critic” was. And since, then my work has considered all these contexts: artist, audience, critic, context (dealer, collector, magazine, gallery, museum, street). These various positions in the art world, these roles their interactions and distances, their interconnectivity and singular divisions, have been the driving force of my artistic practice, including artwork and installations and founding/editing/publishing zingmagazine with its multitude of contributors, as well as collaborating to create a contemporary art collection with a sibling.
So The Dikeou Collection came from this unique perspective of my being an artist and editor/publisher of zingmagazine and from these perspectives. The Dikeou Collection collects artists in full, completely, and to represent their vision to fullest possible extent. To paraphrase Walter Robinson, a great artist and the former editor of artnet, “The Dikeou Collection is zingmagazine come to life.” And I suppose that’s true.
Artpace: For the installation at Artpace, you chose to highlight spaces not typically visited by the public. How was this decision inspired by your time as an International Artist-in-Residence in 2011?
Dikeou: Artpace emailed that I was among the finalists being considered as part of the Texas residency, and that visiting curator Heather Pesanti from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery would be coming for a studio visit. At that time, I was a fairly new resident to Texas, and I was trying to reconcile just how I would make the “studio visit” work here in my new Texas terrain, and also struggling because my work is very resistant to a traditional studio visit. A studio visit intrinsically implies a glimpse behind “Oz’s Curtain” so to speak, and my work often plays with what that “Curtain” might actually be. With that in mind, I blurred the “Curtain,” making the studio not one hidden room, but many rooms, any room. I organized the studio visit around the concept of the house and each room, starting with the garage and laundry room and going through the kitchen, dinning room, bedroom, bathroom, den, and living room, conducting the studio visit like a house tour, showing different works/installations in each chamber. This change in how to conduct a studio visit was a significant change for me as an artist and in my practice, and it came about as part of applying for a residency at Artpace.
Of course, who knew that beyond having the great fortune to be an Artist-in-Residence, I would be able to further curate a show in Artpace’s Hudson (Show)Room. As it’s the case, I culled from my experiences and time as a resident—and one of the most influential moments as a resident is the preliminary visit, an essential part of the Artpace orientation. One of the first things that happens in the preliminary visit is a tour of the entire campus of Artpace. It is a totally impressive and inspiring tour of resources, spaces, environments that each visiting artist may have access to, but of which the visitor may be completely unaware. And these incredibly beautiful, creative, and unused spaces are very much part of the everyday use of the staff and the residents, and I wanted to make use of these spaces in terms of exhibition and not just utility, making this exhibition much like that resident artists’s campus tour—and in turn, a reflection of the house tour that I gave as my studio visit—that made my residency possible.
Artpace: The artwork installed at Artpace represents a small number of the total works in your collection, can you share a little bit about your choice of the specific pieces for installation at Artpace?
Dikeou: The Dikeou Collection has just over 35 different and completely diverse artists working in myriad mediums. I tried to choose works from The Dikeou Collection for all the specific spaces I was hoping to utilize at Artpace and show the artwork from The Dikeou Collection within a different context in San Antonio, by reinterpreting their viewing contexts, and further, if they shared the space with other artists or viewing contexts at Artpace, that these dialogues be different than the dialogues at The Dikeou Collection.
Artpace: The Dikeou Collection is currently housed on the fifth floor of a historic office building, just steps from a popular thoroughfare in downtown Denver: 16th Street. Are there any similarities or stark differences with regard to its home setting versus Artpace?
Dikeou: Well in a way Denver and San Antonio are similar as cities. Both have downtowns that are becoming again sources of creative and enterprising energy. The downtowns are being reborn. Both have a touristic vein that draws visitors to their heart: San Antonio’s is the River Walk and, as you mentioned, Denver has the 16th Street Mall. And Artpace’s building and The Dikeou Collection building are themselves sources of inspiration in that each holds an intrinsic history that, in the end, is part of the artistic installation. And while the historic nature of the buildings is similar, they are fundamentally different. The Artpace building was originally designed as the Hudson Motor Car dealership, including a showroom and repair shops, within a very industrial model, and its spaces reflect that industrial feeling. The Colorado Building where The Dikeou Collection is housed is a pastiche of styles and additions from Beaux Arts and Art Deco, to ’50s mid-century modernism. And the Colorado Building’s primary use was and is office, creating a different artistic setting. So the spaces that house the works in these two places are indeed very different but each reaches to give the art and artists a sanctuary for viewing and creativity while relating to their downtown surroundings.
Artpace: Has the focus of the Dikeou Collection changed since its founding in 1998? And if yes, how?
Dikeou: “In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise; ten thousand hours.” —Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success
“Years ago when I was living very briefly with a stockbroker who had a good cellar, I asked him how I could learn about wine. ‘Drink it,’ he said.” —Jeanette Winterson, Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery
I think it is important to recognize that like many collectors—from the bastion of those involved with contemporary art to those “Collecting” precursors who curated personal “wunder cabinets”—we necessarily evolved as “collectors.” A story I like to recount is that when asked which was my brother’s favorite acquisition, he said, “Simon Periton’s Anarchy Doily,” which he added, “was my least favorite piece at the time we bought it. Today I love it.” That exemplifies not just that one’s taste changes, but also potentially their interests. Given that, however, we have never de-accessioned any works we have collected, and display all the works we collect permanently in spaces that are free and open to the public. Each and every installation—be it a suite of drawings, a series of photographs, a challenging sculpture, a unique installation—completes a grander vision of the whole, while creating a dialogue among the entirety of the artists’ installations.
Artpace: How do you see the Dikeou Collection in relationship to your own artistic practice and your publication project, zingmagazine?
Dikeou: I have always been involved with publishing from the middle school poetry journal, to being on staff of the high school yearbook, so it wasn’t such an “extracurricular” stretch, that in 1995 with small budget I decided to embark on a publication of artist’s generated projects informed by the Artforum Samaras project. And naturally, I was inspired by artists and curators who used multimedia platforms—including print media—to advance their artistic positions, such as Andy Warhol’s Interview and Collins and Milazzo’s East Village publication, Effects. I saw this new magazine that I was going to edit and publish as a compendium of curated projects, giving each of the “curators” or contributors 2-16 pages to publish their work redactionally free. So zingmagazine was an examination of these spaces between creation and audience, critic and artist, context and visitor. Since ’95 we’ve published 22 issues, each with approximately 300 pages, and featuring the works of over 400 artists in mediums ranging from photography drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, installation, fashion, fiction, poetry, journalism, music, to name a few. Issue 23 is forthcoming.
Image credit: Swap Meet guest curator Devon Dikeou at her International Artist-in-Residence opening at Artpace in March 2011. Photo by Erik Gustafson