We met one of our Octopus Initiative artists, George P. Perez, outside his studio at The Temple, an artist haven in RiNo. Perez greeted and treated us like we were old friends, offering us coffee from his poppy red french press and welcoming us into his sun-drenched studio space as if we’d been there countless times before.
We are over the moon excited to announce our newest Octopus Initiative artist, Jamie Carrejo! Jamie is a multidisciplinary artist who often layers materials and imagery to examine complex personal, relational, and political environments.
We got a brief crash course on linguistics through the lens of art and technology from Joel Swanson, one of our recent Octopus Initiative artists. Swanson examines what is so ingrained in our world, our relationships, and our communication that it often goes unnoticed or fails to be critically examined: he employs commonly used words and phrases and isolates them, challenging the viewer to pause and think differently about the way words shape our lives—and the way we shape words.
We visited Diego Rodriguez-Warner’s studio in his home, which is more of a home in his studio. Every square inch of the space is painted in loud color, dramatic forms, and with images of historical artworks, various sizes of plywood, and clippings of fragmented gestural body parts pinned to the wall.
We visited Viviane Le Courtois at Processus, the co-working studio space in Denver she founded with Christopher R. Perez. These two are powerhouses. They created Processus (named after the French word referring to a series of processes leading to an unknown result) to facilitate a space for people to share ideas, focus on experimentation, and contribute to the evolution of art and life. The studio has many different kinds of equipment for various mediums, and the space itself is beautifully designed with large warehouse windows, memorabilia, older projects from past series, and pickle jars with different material inside each one.
Our next featured artist is Chris Oatey. We visited his beautiful brick home on a street lined with lush trees. He met us outside, informing us that we were some of the first people to see his new studio space in his basement. His studio highlights his artwork well: the white walls and wooden floors complement the primarily monochromatic works perfectly. We sat down, La Croix drinks in hand, and talked about his history as a map maker, his obsession with carbon paper, and how he captures fleeting, intangible moments.
Shill is deeply kind, authentic, and brilliant without being pretentious. In our conversation she thoughtfully reflected on unfulfilled desire and loneliness in an age that is bombarded with media and perhaps a pseudo-interconnectedness.
Mattai has a humble, honest, and entirely captivating way about her, as she discusses her life and work. She is reflective and wonderfully articulate. We got to chat with her in the middle of one of the galleries, amidst an abundance of visually and emotionally powerful artwork. She seemed to blend right in, wearing a charming, ruffled yellow dress.
For our next studio visit, we ventured to an area on the outskirts of the city, a place with aged warehouse buildings and a picturesque old saloon. The incredibly accomplished Clark Richert met us with coffee and cream in his hands and greeted us at his studio door with a deep, billowy voice. Richert is a great storyteller. We rummaged through old photographs and notebooks filled with drawings, while listening to many of his stories of years past.
Since the art lives in your home, we want to connect you to the artists and the spaces the work was created in. To help do that, we are kicking off an artist blog series that gives you an “in the studio” look into the Octopus Initiative artists, their work, and their lives. We begin with Sierra Montoya Barela, one of the very first artists involved in the project.