Edwards’ underground art scene | VailDaily.com

Edwards’ underground art scene

HL The Den Art Show 2 DT 10-1-08

EDWARDS ” Mid-afternoon at The Den skateboarding shop in Edwards. A handful of tattooed adults and some children are watching “The Muppets” on a TV in the corner of the store.

Shop owner Cory Correia, a 30-year-old tattoo artist, disappears behind a curtain in the back and returns holding a painting of the president.

“It shows my love for George Bush,” Correia says in reference to the blood-colored money signs and crying children surrounding the president’s face. “Or lack thereof.”

What’s happening at The Den has little to do with skateboards. There are paintings all over the walls, and hand-drawn fliers announcing the shop’s upcoming art show. At one point, a 20-something guy wheels his bicycle inside and announces he’s on the brink of a painting binge. Has The Den become the headquarters of an underground art scene?

Cities are like petri dishes for subcultures. New York has its morbid, glasses-wearing poets. Los Angeles its Goth songwriters. But maybe cities aren’t the only places where communities of artists can emerge, spontaneously and nonchalantly, on the outskirts of the mainstream.

Lacking a glaring sign like Starbucks or the movie theater, The Den is a subtle presence in the Riverwalk Shopping Center. Yet artists have no trouble finding it.

Custom motorcycle builders, photographers, reformed graffiti sprayers ” local artists of all kinds have followed word of mouth to the skate shop.

Saturday night will mark The Den’s first art show in four months, and roughly its fifth altogether since the store opened in November.

Many of the seven local artists in attendance will be showing their work for the first time, Correia said.

“So many people out there have art or do art and they don’t have a chance to show it,” he said. “At least there’s something out here for people who can’t show their art in the galleries. It’s a perfect venue for them.”

Among the artists will be Phil Russell, 28, a part-time Edwards resident who owns a surf shop in Hawaii.

“This is my first art show so I don’t even know what I’m doing,” he confessed. “I figured I’d get everything I have that’s creative to put in there.”

Everything creative includes an old-school motorcycle Russell built and a collection of his photos. Some of those pictures show surfers riding 80-foot waves in Hawaii.

“I’ve just been sitting on this stuff for many, many years,” Russell said. “I’m kind of a perfectionist so I’ve been shy about letting it out.”

Chucky “UpperChuck” Gordon, a body piercer from Frisco, grew up doing graffiti in Indianapolis. Mostly legal stuff like murals on warehouse walls, he said.

“It was super cool to hang out with your buddies and everyone would paint and push each other and get better,” Gordon said.

Today, that street feel is evident in Gordon’s work. For the show at The Den, he spray-painted a mural on pieces of canvas on the wall of a warehouse in Denver. He dismantled the canvases and plans to sell each separately at the show.

“I’m pretty excited to get out there and have people see what I’m doing and getting feedback,” he said.

The art at The Den has a decidedly urban bent to it, perhaps because many of the artists are friends from California.

“It’s definitely a different style in here than your average landscape,” Correia said. “It’s more New Yorkish, California.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

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