Looking back, looking ahead.
This year has been difficult in ways none of us could have imagined. We lookback with great appreciation for your support over this challenging year.
The proverbial sentence "A picture is worth a thousand words" is a famous and common proverb that an image conveys its essence more effectively than a verbal description. We wanted to take you through 2020 by highlighting our year with a few photos and a brief overview.
January/February - No Bull Show and prepping for upcoming shows
In Denver, January is all about the National Western Stock Show. Alonzo Clemons, an artist with Savant Syndrome, focuses most of his attention on sculpting large hoofed animals. Alonzo did a live demonstration in the gallery, watching him is like watching a master dancer: his only tools are his hands and his process is graceful yet purposeful. In the gallery our artists were busy preparing for the March Paper Work and April Ten Pin shows.
March - up and running on zoom
For the month of Printmaking we partnered with Joe Higgins with The Art Students League of Denver and our lead studio artist Javier Flores to participate in a residency where we used their printmaking facilities, which provided our artists with a unique experience of creating prints at a larger size. The First Friday opening was on March 6th, on March 13th we closed our physical space and got to work on trying to figure out how to help our artists work from home. We delivered art supplies, food, toilet paper and iPads to our artists that did not have the necessary technology to connect to zoom. We were up and running with classes the week of March 30th as well as one-on-one virtual mentoring.
April - first ever online show
The 10 Pin Show featured artists AJ, Allie, Brittany and Nicole. Each of these artists came to us more than 10 years ago and we have seen a progression and a maturity in their personalities and in their work. Each still have the disabilities they had when they first arrived, but each also have developed a robust artistic voice and opinions about what they want to accomplish. Ten years is a long time. The 10 Pin Show is at the core of what we do at Access Gallery: provide economic opportunity for people with disabilities through the arts.
May/June - porch sessions
As the weather warmed up we starting going to our artists homes and sitting outside with them to do art together and share a meal. Our good friends and longtime partner Pizzeria Locale supplied us with pizza and salads. We also starting making weaving kits for a public art project using scraps of leftover materials from when we made hundreds of masks in April and May. We provided all of the materials free of charge and are making a COVID-19 photo collage kit.
June online Summer Internship Program
We didn't let a pandemic stop us from doing our yearly summer creative work based learning program. We filled bins with all of the supplies our students needed for the program including iPads. While it was a different experience, they developed and increased life skills such as time management, communication and advocacy and gained an understanding of various careers in the creative industries.
July - Celebrated the 30th anniversary of the ADA
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990. In commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of the ADA, our long time partner Pizzeria Locale featured our Really? artwork on 20,000 pizza boxes and hosted a fundraiser on July 26th. Pizzeria Locale donated 33% of their proceeds to Access Gallery from all three of their Denver locations.
The Really? artwork was displayed on a truck through #ArtFindsUs, a partnership between K Contemporary Gallery Denver and Athena Project. We realized that this image captures much of our creative belief – that people with disabilities need to be seen, need to be heard, and need to be at the tables where decisions about them are made. The braille in this piece states – “Nothing about us without us” a familiar refrain to anyone working in the disability community.
August - Colfax Strong electric boxes and a billboard
We were honored to be selected by the Colfax Ave Business Improvement District for two out of their fifteen power boxes for Colfax Strong, celebrating the strength and resiliency of Colfax Avenue while amplifying the creative voices of artists of color and the LGBTQ+ community. In July, Executive Director Damon McLeese asked Nicole to paint her version of a Zoom meeting. According to Nicole, Zoom is a great way for different creatures to be able to communicate and just be friends. We never imagined that a month after she completed the painting, it would be on a 9’ x 32’ billboard in downtown Denver on the corner of 16th and Champa in the Theatre District! Head downtown to see it in person.
September - back in the gallery and out in the community
We were back in the Gallery in small groups Tuesday - Friday, masks on, hands sanitized and thanks to our long time partner and good friends at Gensler who are working on a refresh of our space, we have more options for social distancing. Long-time Board Member Donna Baker-Breningstall hosted us in her beautiful garden several times for mornings filled with sketching, exploring, learning about plants and lunches that included produce from her garden. We all agreed that it felt like a mini-vacation and just loved being together outside in nature after months of Zoom classes from home.
October - 99 Pieces and Photography Residency at the Botanic Gardens
The power of art and community could not be stopped by a pandemic! Our yearly fundraising event, 99 Pieces was virtual this year. We are so grateful to all of the artists that donated art, our tremendous sponsors and everyone that purchased art, 50 pieces sold in the first 30 minutes! During the month of October, Access Gallery artists met with Botanic Gardens teaching artists for a photography residency. Our artists learned the basics of photography, the rule of thirds, texture and pattern, perspective, depth of field, and light and shadow over the course of five sessions.
November - gift bags for Modern Nomad
Modern Nomad purchased heavy weight craft bags and our good friend Stu, owner of Ink Lounge helped us screen print 600 bags with designs by our artists. Modern Nomad sold the bags with all proceeds going to Access Gallery. Out of an abundance of caution we moved our programming back online.
December - construction
Our friends at PMG Construction have been busy working on the design by our longtime partner and friends at Gensler. PMG's millwork subcontractor Colorado Artisan is donating their time and materials for built-in storage for art supplies, oversized canvas, and completed art as well as a custom reception desk/cash wrap as part of the new Gallery Shop. Carpet in the office/digital lab was just installed, donated by Diaz Group and Bolon. We will keep you updated on the construction progress and look forward to a new year of beginnings!