Cars have been top-of-mind for Cortney Stell recently. Not because she’s looking to buy one but because, as the executive director and chief curator of Black Cube, a nomadic art museum, she is always searching for experimental exhibition ideas. “A lot of artists are experiencing the crunch and displacement from the growth of Denver. We’ve seen a lot more traffic recently. At the same time, there are a lot of interesting innovations with cars right now,” Stell says. “It’s a really ripe time to be speaking about our connection to cars in Denver.”

Stell and co-curator Ruth Anne Bruno, public art program manager at Colorado Creative Industries, decided to broach the subject with “Drive-In: Personal Space,” a series of three free, one-night-only pop-up exhibitions. The first is being held on August 19 (dates are TBD for the others). “Cars are very interesting because everyone has strong feelings about their car—whether or not you have a car might inform how you operate within the world,” Bruno says.

Thirteen established local artists were asked to ponder their relationships with their cars, or cars in general, and create site-specific installations in response. For some, the car itself became a canvas; for others, it was a prop. Take well-known Denver photographic collage artist Mario Zoots‘ contribution: He drives a 1984 lapis blue BMW, so he started researching what was going on in 1984. His findings are the basis for a collage—all made in the lapis blue hue—created inside the vehicle; a performance piece will also be tied into the work.

Artist Kate Gonda, on the other hand, doesn’t own a car; she pays to use car2go, a car-sharing service, when she needs four wheels. Which led her to recognize a cycle in her life: working to pay for things she needs, such as a car to get her to work. So attendees will actually get into a car2go with Gonda as she drives in tight circles against a soundtrack of audio that she created. The other participating artists are: Amber Cobb, Graham Eschen, Tobias Fike, Caleb Hahne, Lucas McMahon, Dimitri Obergfell, Zach Reini, Nick Silici, Gretchen Schaefer, Laura Shill, and Kristen Sink.

The installations will be placed throughout a construction lot in RiNo, the soon-to-be site of the S*Park development. There will also be a hot dog cart, a U-Haul doubling as a music venue with tunes by Killd By, and free beer courtesy of Ratio Beerworks.

“This is an art experience the city has not seen before,” Stell says. “We’re trying to bring art outside of the white cube and simultaneously make it more accessible.”

The only question is: What transportation will you use to get there?

If you go: “Drive-In: Personal Space” takes place on Saturday, August 19, 7–10 p.m.; future site of S*Park, 2606 Lawrence St. It is free to attend. 

Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at