Peek­ing through the cur­tains at the Dikeou Pop- Up space

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By RayMark Ri­naldi Den­ver Post Fine Arts Critic

Artist Devon Dikeou ex­plores the space be­tween spa­ces, or to make it meta­phys­i­cal, the mo­ment be­tween mo­ments, and noth­ing il­lus­trates those mil­lisec­onds of tran­si­tion bet­ter than the stage cur­tain.

Who are peo­ple be­hind it? And who are they in front of it, when the world is watch­ing? And how does that change in the in­stant they walk through?

Dikeou’s lat­est pro­ject is an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of those very spe­cific stage ac­ces­sories, and it is, as Dikeou’s work can be, ob­ses­sive and ex­haus­tive. She’s re- cre­at­ing small- scale repli­cas of the cur­tains fea­tured on TV talk shows over the past five decades.

Dikeou has com­mis­sioned ver­sions of the vel­vety, gold back­drop Ed Sul­li­van stood in front of, and the be­jew­eled, or­ganza drap­ery that re­vealed Merv Grif­fin’s guests. She has a cur­tain sewn from the same de­signer fab­ric that co- starred with Co­nan O’Brien and an­other from the shiny, blue ma­te­rial fea­tured on the first Jimmy Fal­lon show. She has found in­spi­ra­tion from the sets of Jack Parr, Johnny Car­son, Jimmy Kim­mel and oth­ers.

They come to­gether into an in­stal­la­tion at the Dikeou PopUp gallery on East Col­fax Av­enue, which is very much a tran­si­tional space it­self.

For three decades, the retail store­front was home to Jerry’s Records, a Den­ver land­mark that closed two years ago. The way de­vel­op­ment is boom­ing in Den­ver, the build­ing could be­come any­thing in short or­der; it’s a block from the Capi­tol and prime real es­tate.

But for now, it’s a roughed- out gallery and per­for­mance venue that hosts a wide va­ri­ety of ex­hi­bi­tions and events. The space serves as a much- looser out­post for the more for­mal Dikeou Col­lec­tion, the down­town mu­seum where Dikeou’s fam­ily houses its con­tem­po­rary art col­lec­tion.

It’s not any­thing goes at the Pop- Up, as much as it is any­thing that fits or­gan­i­cally. That in­cludes mu­sic, thanks to the build­ing’s his­tory as a long­time pur­veyor of vinyl records. When the pre­vi­ous ten­ant de­parted, it left 5,000 LPs be­hind in the base­ment, a col­lec­tion the Dikeou in­creased to 15,000 pieces, buy­ing sur­plus al­bums from ra­dio sta­tion KGNU.

So, DJs spin there a lot dur­ing pub­lic events, which in­clude reg­u­lar show­cases for live jazz and lit­er­ary read­ings. Artists use the space for pur­poses as di­verse as one- night per­for­mance pieces

and band re­hearsals. Also, there’s a fam­ily work­shop on the first Satur­day of ev­ery month.

And since Jerry’s Records’ refuse also in­cluded scores of films on the now- de­funct laser disc for­mat, Dikeou found a player and hosts a monthly se­ries of films from the 1970s. The pro­gram­ming is cu­rated with great imag­i­na­tion— and an open mind — by di­rec­tor Saniego Sanchez.

Still, the Pop- Up space keeps its vis­ual art of­fer­ings se­ri­ous, and chal­leng­ing and con­nected log­i­cally to the Dikeou col­lec­tion’s hold­ings.

The up­stairs cur­rently fea­tures work by Lizzi Bougat­sos, who takes a light­hearted but cyn­i­cal look at present- day so­ci­ety. She in­cor­po­rates found ob­jects, posters, Amer­i­can flags and com­mer­cial signs into pieces that live some­where be­tween wall- hang­ing and col­lage.

With pop- cul­ture ref­er­ences to co­me­dian Tracy Mor­gan and some blunt lan­guage about body parts, they’re not ev­ery­one’s cup of coffee. But they’re wry and real and of­fer plenty to look at.

In the base­ment, there are the de­cay­ing sculp­tures of Anicka Yi, who presents a se­ries of wall­mounted sweaters with real flower ar­range­ments ex­trud­ing from the necks. The flow­ers are coated in panko bread crumbs, deep fried and left to rot. She’s ap­peal­ing to mul­ti­ple senses here— sight, smell, taste— and of­fer­ing a vis­ceral take on the de­com­po­si­tion of liv­ing things.

It all leads to Dikeou’s own works, the cur­tains, which play out two ways.

Lin­ing the­wall of a sep­a­rate room and hung edge to edge, they come to­gether as a sin­gle, im­mer­sive ob­ject that si­mul­ta­ne­ously an­a­lyzes re­cent pop his­tory and the hon­ors the craft of sewing. There’s a lot of cinch­ing and seam­ing go­ing on, and th­ese ob­jects arewell- made.

But they are also sep­a­rate-works — each is 10 feet square and a dif­fer­ent color and tex­ture so they stand alone. They re­sem­ble ab­stract-works on can­vas, al­though they are “painted” with fab­ric, in­stead of ac­tual oils or acrylics.

This kind of du­al­ity per­me­ates the work and makes be­ing around it a re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. The cur­tains are, at the same time, in­di­vid­ual ob­ject and in­stal­la­tion, hu­mor­ous and se­ri­ous, vis­ual and tac­tile, high- con­cept and hand­made. They in­ves­ti­gate tran­si­tion, but they ex­ist in tran­si­tion them­selves. That may not be the in­ten­tion, but that is the ef­fect, and it’s a lot of fun.

Artist Devon Dikeou, right, and Saniego Sanchez have worked to­gether to cre­ate the en­vi­ron­ment in the gallery. The Dikeou Pop- Up gallery is lo­cated in a for­mer record store at 312 E. Col­fax Ave. in Den­ver. Kathryn Scott Osler, The Den­ver Post

Pho­tos by Kathryn Scott Osler, The Den­ver Post

The stair­way lead­ing to the base­ment is spray­painted with bright col­ors. The Dikeou Pop- Up art space is in a for­mer record store at 312 E. Col­fax Ave. in Den­ver.

Saniego Sanchez moves a loud speaker into place. The gallery will host mu­si­cals as well as lit­er­ary events in the space.

A nod to the for­mer record store, there are LP cov­ers on a por­tion of the ceil­ing in the base­ment.

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