Still of "Johnny Express" by AlfredImageworks
There's something really exciting happening in Denver's visual arts scene: Works are moving off of gallery and museum walls (though we still adore those venues), and into public settings, such as screens and buildings. Look no further than Monkey Town 4, OhHeckYeah (running through July 26), and the ongoing Friday Flash series, the latest of which takes place Friday, July 18 (8 p.m.), and Saturday, July 19 (11 a.m.). Developed in 2013 as part of the Denver Theatre District's efforts to enhance public art offerings in the city—unlike Times Square, Denver's screens aren't limited to commercial advertising—Friday Flash is a monthly program that displays animation and motion-based art from around the world on the massive LED screen on the corner of 14th and Champa streets. Simply show up, find a spot on the sidewalk—all four corners offer a good view—and settle in.
In its first year, Friday Flash included five programs, which culminated with a curated program of commissioned works. This year, the event includes three programs (this week's is the second); it will wrap with a presentation of newly commissioned works on Friday, September 19 (8 p.m.). The result is slowly building a collection of motion-based artwork. Ivar Zeile, owner of Plus Gallery and a curator for the Denver Digerati (an entity of the Theatre District), says it's the first of its kind in the country. "It's all very new. We're tapping into the future of public art," he says. "We're riding this wave where technology is intersecting with art. There's a great sense of freedom."
The upcoming show, Friday Flash No. 7—Kid Wonder, is a 50-minute program combining thought-provoking motion art with comedic animations that range from 20 seconds to a few minutes in length. More so than other programs, this one is appropriate for all ages; in fact, kids may enjoy the show even more than their parents. I got a sneak preview, and four words came to mind: youthful, exciting, engaging, and immersive. The variety of themes and styles are impressive and provide a form of healthy escapism for viewers. It's not surprising, then, that when Zeile tells me he feels "a sense of total awe," I'm unsure whether he's just talking about "Kid Wonder" or more broadly about the changing art landscape here. I think it's fair to declare he's referring to both.
"Denver," Zeile adds, "is in some sort of heyday right now." We couldn't agree more—and we can't wait to see what's next.
Follow associate editor Daliah Singer on Twitter at @daliahsinger.