The immensity of loss as a result of COVID-19 is something that the state, country and world are going to be grappling with for a long time to come, and as is so often the case, the arts will play a vital role in that process.
The Biennial of the Americas — an organization headquartered in Denver that aims to develop collaboration and partnership across borders and highlight Colorado as a state that is deeply connected to the Americas — is leading the way with the newly-opened public submissions process for the “Americas COVID-19 Memorial.”
“For us the catalyst has always been how to engage artists over what the Americas' most pressing challenges are, and right now it's recovery from this devastating pandemic,” said FloraJane DiRienzo, deputy director of Biennial of the Americas. “We know artists will be at the forefront of this effort, finding ways to help us heal and envision a future beyond this situation.”
Submissions are open to individuals or collaborative groups of any age or nationality, who reside within the boundaries of the Americas (including Canada, the United States, Central and South America and the Caribbean). According to provided information, entries should “focus on exploration of how the artistic imagination conceives a memorial to a contemporary tragedy that transcends national borders.” Submissions can include a 300-word narrative describing the work and any details about inspiration, materials used or additional context. Artwork will be accepted through May 31.
In addition to the public component, the organization is working with curators Derrick Velasquez and Maria Paz Gaviria and an artist selection committee to pick 20 artists from all over the Americas to be a part of the memorial.
“I'm really interested to see what all the works look like, and we're trying to allow for a lot of space because we expect to see a variety of expressions,” DiRienzo said. “We all express ourselves in a variety of ways. Even though we've had a similar experience, it's also been unique to each of us. I hope the works are as diverse as the Americas.”
Another feature of the project will be free virtual events — mainly “Coffee Chats” — that will tackle a variety of topics, including grief and social memory.
The final result of all this effort will feature the contributions of the 20 professional artists and the public submissions on a virtual exhibition on the Biennial's website. That exhibit will go live in June, and in August the organization will announce awards for both professional and public artists. Viewers will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite public work, and the winner will receive $2,000.
“I hope the artists who get involve make space for the thought processes of moving forward — things like what we've been through and where are we going?” DiRienzo said. “The end result should be a space for healing for everyone.”
For more information and to enter, visit www.biennialoftheamericas.org/publicsubmissions.
Painting a cosmic canvas at Wings Over the Rockies
The Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum is taking visitors beyond the stratosphere with its newest exhibit, All the Cosmos a Canvas. The exhibit is a celebration of the universe as captured through the famous Hubble Telescope, which has sent more than a million observations from its orbit above earth. In addition to jaw-dropping photos those observations include images and data.
All the Cosmos a Canvas is included in admission for the museum, 7711 E. Academy Blvd. in Denver. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. For information and to pre-purchase tickets, visit www.WingsMuseum.org/Hubble.
Clarke's Concert of the Week - Set Break livestream
The music industry can be a taxing place to be, and that was before a global pandemic shut down the vast majority of the touring world. This is the reason the nonprofit Backline exists — to connect music industry professionals and their families with mental health and wellness resources.
To further that mission, the organization is hosting the Set Break livestream event at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 10, on Twitch's Relix Channel. The concert will feature artists like Leon Bridges, Sara Bareilles, Black Pumas, Lake Street Dive and Alanis Morissette.
The event is free, but there will be opportunities to donate during the livestream. Visit https://backline.care/set-break/ for all the pertinents.
Streaming style - Aspen Shortsfest
The 30th annual Aspen Shortsfest — presented by Aspen Film — is running through Sunday, April 11 on the virtual Eventive platform, meaning viewers can stream 80 shorts that include six world premieres and 15 U.S. premieres.
The festival is one of four Oscar-qualifying festivals in the US solely dedicated to short films and will feature a variety of entries in five categories: animation, comedy, documentary, drama and short short. Talents participating either in front or behind the camera include Will Ferrell, Dev Patel, Wyatt Cenac and Zachary Woods. Equally exciting, 55 films are directed or co-directed by women.
To check out the range of high-quality films from all over the world and obtain individual tickets or passes, visit www.aspenfilm.org/aspen-shortsfest-2021.
Clarke Reader's column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at Clarke.Reader@hotmail.com.
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