If you’ve been paying any attention as you’ve passed through Denver’s hotels, theaters, office buildings, and hospitals, you’ve noticed that great art—not those mass-produced abstract watercolors, but bona fide fine art—is popping up everywhere. Behind many of those pieces are Martha Weidmann and Molly Casey, co-founders of Denver-based corporate-art-curation company Nine Dot Arts, who have made it their business to use the power of original art to transform everyday spaces—from hotel lobbies to city blocks—into experiences.
Since founding Nine Dot Arts in 2009, Weidmann and Casey—both formally trained studio artists—have helped clients in more than 33 states and four countries source original works by emerging and established artists from Colorado and around the globe. (Along the way, they’ve helped launch the careers of local favorites Ian Fisher, Sandra Fettingis, and Andrew Ramiro Tirado, to name a few.) Here, the duo dishes on Denver, dream collabs, and what’s next.
5280 Home: Why does Denver need public art?
Martha Weidmann: Art elevates public spaces by providing intrigue, character, memories, wayfinding, moments of respite, connections with different audiences, and support for the creative community. Art tells the story of humanity. Without it, we have no soul as a city.
How does your background as studio artists influence your work?
Molly Casey: Our formal training gives us an advantage when connecting artists and businesses. We understand quality craftsmanship, which allows us to truly respect and appreciate great work when we see it. We can empathize with artists because we know how difficult their work is. Our artistic backgrounds also help us explain artwork to our clients in a way that’s approachable and fun. We make the art world less intimidating and more accessible.
Which local artists are you itching to collaborate with?
MW: Ben Siekierski, a young artist who works in media ranging from porcelain compositions to video art, all united by an air of dry humor; the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance institution; Colorado poet laureate Joseph Hutchison; and Jami Duffy, executive director of [music-education nonprofit] Youth on Record.
Where can we see your curatorial work next?
MC: At Union Hall [opening early 2019 at the Coloradan at Union Station], a community-focused arts space [created by Colorado-based developer East West Partners] for locals and visitors. Our curatorial program there is focused on experimental and groundbreaking exhibitions utilizing new mediums and technology; young artists and curators; and impactful lectures, events, and performances.
Before you go: What’s the name “Nine Dot Arts” about?
MW: “Nine Dot Arts” is inspired by the classic brainteaser known as the “nine dot puzzle.” The challenge is to connect all nine dots using only four straight lines, without lifting the pen off the paper. Most people think within the perceived grid. The key is to think outside the box.
Find Nine Dot Arts’ curated collections in these Front Range public spaces.
1. Where: The Elizabeth Hotel, Fort Collins, first-floor elevator lobby
Look For: Mixed-media artist John Garrett’s curtain-like “Mourning,” which is made of crocheted audio cassette tape—in keeping with the hotel’s music theme.
2. Where: Le Méridien Denver Downtown hotel, behind the reception desk
Look For: “Marie,” a giant assemblage of more than 1,100 miniature oil portraits of Marie Antoinette, by Denver painter Jonathan Saiz.
3. Where: The Maven Hotel, LoDo, first-floor elevator lobby
Look For: Denver visual artist Travis Hetman’s “Dark Matter Gathering” , comprising hundreds of old black-and-white photographs embellishedwith tiny, hand-painted “dark matter clusters.”
4. Where: Denver Theatre District
Look For: “The Blue Trees,” an installation for which artist Konstantin Dimopoulos and volunteers coated 156 real trees with nontoxic, natural blue pigment that will naturally degrade over 12 months.
5. Where: Union Hall at the Coloradan
Look For: Deborah Brown’s solo exhibition of recent oil paintings (opening early 2019), in which a female protagonist and her Jack Russell terrier re-enact stories from mythology, literature, and the Bible.