Cultivating young artistic talent is an important part of creating a rich and lively cultural scene.
Two downtown galleries are working to make that happen in two exhibits opening Friday. "Young Hot Sh*ts" at The Modbo will feature mostly 2D works by artists ages 17-25. "Blurring Confines" at S.P.Q.R. will feature the work of JD Sell, a 24-year-old who's already had three solo shows this year. Though he also does installations, the current show will highlight his paintings, which incorporate silk-screen printing.
"I find them interesting," said S.P.Q.R. owner Brett Andrus. "It's good to see a young artist develop a voice, and it's a good space to start developing a voice as he grows into becoming a professional artist. He's got that skill set and drive, and he's only in his early 20s."
Modbo owner Lauren Ciborowski hopes her show shakes out some new talent.
"I want to foster and encourage young artists," she said. "It's important for people in the under-25 age group to know there is an arts scene here, so they don't have to move to Denver. There's opportunity not only to show, but to sell."
Andrus and Ciborowski, who once co-owned the two galleries, opened the first "Young Hot Sh*ts" exhibit in 2011 and invited seven to eight young artists to display their works. But for this show, a call for entries was extended and incoming works will be juried by the gallery owners. Since that first show, Andrus said, he's noticed a change in the local art scene.
"We're retaining less of the young artists in town," he said. "It's a reflection of Denver pulling away some of our talent. Young artists are moving there to be in the big city, bright lights. There's still strong work being done in town by young artists, but there's fewer of them for sure."
Sell agrees that losing artists to a bigger city is always an issue. He's had friends who moved to Denver but then moved back. Andrus said he believes that's due to the cost of living.
"I will stick for at least the next few years," said Sell. "There's so much development here on the arts scene alone in the last year. I feel fortunate to be on the forefront of a few things developing, and I want to see things through. It's important to develop the places you start to set roots in."