“I have conversations with buildings I work with,” said Jeronimo Hagerman in a conversation with curator Paola Santoscoy — the first in the …
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“I have conversations with buildings I work with,” said Jeronimo
Hagerman in a conversation with curator Paola Santoscoy — the first
in the Biennial of the Americas lecture series.
Their topic was “Lure of the Unknown Love or Tropical Fantasies”
and addressed our inclination to long for somewhere else. Examples
were a Christmas-themed amusement park in Brazil, where Christmas
actually comes in the summer; examples of romanticized American
landscape paintings; a Latin American hotel room with a painting of
a Bavarian village… “Even if it doesn’t exist, you need it for your
dreams,” said the Mexican-born artist, who lives and works in
Mexico City and Barcelona, Spain.
Regarding McNichols, he said “imagine it at the end of the 19th
century as a reference to a far-away culture for people who may not
have left the state.”
The theme for the art in “The Nature of Things,” borrowed from a
poem by the first century Roman poet Lucretius, addresses the
relationship of humans to their universe and the inherent conflict
that arises from different voices.
Hagerman was commissioned to create an installation called “Lime
Green Corinthian over Saturn Dublin” for the entrance to the
McNichols Building at Denver Civic Center, which is an arts venue
for the Biennial of the Americas events. It not only includes art
installations by 24 Artists from North and Latin America, but
provides a stage for lectures and performances throughout the month
of July. (See biennialoftheamericas.org/mcnichols-main-stage).
Hagerman’s design for the entrance involved wrapping the tops of
Corinthian columns with live tropical foliage, bringing an image of
palm trees to mind, a “vegetation intervention,” he calls it,
transforming the entrance into a tropical area for a social
gathering, with multicolored beach chairs and swaths of hot pink
cloth swooping at the top of the area. The pink fabric is inspired
by bright tents at a Mexican street market and the glow from the
intense color reflects inside the formal old building near the
Disregarding suggestions that fake plants be used, online
catalogs of plants were scanned until the right material appeared.
Santoscoy said the plants he wanted were found in Florida and a
watering system was installed. Hagerman said his art has evolved
from photography and sculpture to installations with plants and
color, which elicit a response from the people who see them. From
the third floor galleries, one is at eye level with the bright
green plants, an unexpectedly pleasurable interaction with
Other art installations address social issues such as housing,
land use, the natural and built environment. A visitor needs to
seek out the wall text that accompanies each work and read it to
understand the back story. For example, a shovels lined precisely
on the floor of the third floor gallery, “Palas Por Pistolas” were
made from melted-down guns collected from an area in Mexico with a
high death rate and turned into shovels used to plant trees. Pedro
Reyes’ installation, which includes videos of guns deposited in
cartons, was conceived by the Botanical Garden in Culiacan and
shovels were to be used to plant trees. (They will be used to plant
trees in Denver while here).
A huge roll of newspapers by Columbian artist Miler Lagos is
called “Silence Dogood,” a pen name Benjamin Franklin used to get
early writings published, including discussion about environmental
American artist Joseph Shaeffer, who lives and works in Boulder,
created “The Epoch of Encroachment,” suggestive of a scientific
laboratory experiment, which addresses his idea that the natural
world will eventually develop defense mechanisms and reclaim the
world. It combines organic materials such as paper wasp nests with
On the first floor is Peruvian artist Sandra Nakamura’s “E
Pluribus Unum 2010,” a coin installation including hand-placed
pennies that fill the floor of a gallery space. The copper mosaic
symbolizes U. S. tax dollars paid by an undocumented population
across the nation.
Again, one needs to hear the story. Fortunately, the gallery is
staffed with knowledgeable folks who are more than eager to talk
about the works — and a visit combines well with the stimulation of
lecture and performance programing.
Parking is easiest at the Cultural Center garage on 12th just
west of Broadway, although there is street parking at times in this
As you walk to McNichols, look up at the colorful giant outdoor
sculpture suspended between the Denver Art Museum’s North Building
and the Voorhees memorial in the park.
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