We had the good fortune of connecting with Alexander Richard Wilson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alexander, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
In the experiences I’ve had while making art, making work professionally as a fine artist comes with an outward awareness of the need to take risks while defining ones practice. I try to attempt at least 3 new concepts a year, both to check in and examine if I can still learn, and to established an application for the process. I think in that too, it’s good to know one’s emotional limits in taking risks. You shouldn’t be naked in the cold for too long for a project or in contemplating an idea, but it’s sometimes the time spent thinking is an important factor in informing what you’re working on. Since making the decision to study fine art and architecture I think I’ve made a risk, and in responding to the contexts that initial risk made available, I made another risk, and then so on to now, wherein I paint climate change as abstracted landscapes. Which is a risk, but very satisfying.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As a painter now in Colorado, I feel like the work in my practice presently is significant in my graphic approach to formalizing the landscape, often I hear “ these marks remind me of graffiti” and after studying art in Chicago at SAIC, and riding the CTA around the city for years, the graphic language slipped in for me in depicting the Rockies. The subject matter I’m painting, is often literally the climate events we’re experiencing in the larger front range region. I don’t think being climate aware, and responsive in one’s practice is presently a rarity per se, but I think working off the concept, “I’m painting the air quality in Denver today and the effects of the drought, conceptually as a landscape with these marks” is. I like things for the sake of things, but in this very alarming period of time, in regards to climate change and American politic, I think it means more for me to have the things I make really appeal to shared spaces and memories. Coming from a black and queer Americana, and to have them assert the need for concern and care for these lands and spaces we rely on. I’ve been a maker since I was a little kid, I don’t know what it would have taken to prevent me from making. In the professional position, and in fine art, I think I’ve just been working to understand what I can and apply what I need, I learned a lot working as a studio manager for a sculptor . I’ve been a gallery assistant more times than I can count, and I’ve curated shows. These experiences inform my work now and the way I go about making it, or creating space for others. Learning shouldn’t always be easy, and I don’t think growing should be either, I think the pain is important in having processed a change within ones self. I think I’ve learned that resentment is the most ridiculous thing in art, lead with kindness and fairness, and the world will never be able to say you were unkind. And then to also, just generally to not take ourselves to seriously.
As a maker, I think of my practice as an ‘It” and it’s about climate change and climate change awareness, it’s also about being black and large, and queer, in the west, but it’s all about being honest.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m assuming your landing at night because I would, so, damn it I love, love, love getting Chinese food from Wokano Asian Bistro, best I’ve had here so far, who doesn’t like night capping with wontons or salmon wontons? Both? Next day, I’d keep it simple, I’m obsessed with Cheesman Park and sitting, so let’s sit!! is the Gem and Mineral show up while your here? You have to go it’s better than Basel Miami. The Kirkland Museum is the emphasis on local painting history you’re in town to see too. I have this thing about getting cheeseburgers from Snarf Burger, The staff there is mad kind too, and I’m not embarrassed to say they’ve learned my name. Moving on to checking out the Libeskind addition to DAM, the rest of the museum, and the new Sie Welcome Center. then Landskap is great for coffee before checking out Union Hall, which is an art gallery I’m really fond of, I co-curated the show that’s up there now, I was living in Lakewood before moving downtown here, and I spent so much money on Lazo Empanadas, they’re ridiculously delicious. So out to Sloans lake for a walk, and then over to the food hall, Syrup is great for brunch, like excellent. The 40 west arts district is a fun time and I think Pirate over on west Colfax is a brilliant gallery space too. Little India is the best take out in Denver. You have to see redrocks, although once here you’ll understand why Colorado is called Colorado. There are so many red rocks to see! Bring enough water on a hike to get lost a little bit. Drive to the Coors factory, just for the drive. You can drink the beer too once you get there.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I think after the past few years, I have more names than I could list in a single shout out, I have a fantastical family in St. Louis county that means the world to me, love you mom! My long standing community of artists and friends from Chicago and time at SAIC whose influence and conference calls still mean the world to me. The friends I have made here in Denver have been a stunning introduction to the front range and these cities and communities that make Denver the nexus in space it is. I lead with the welcoming committee of my friend Jason Abrams, his family, and his band of homies from Littleton, which is honestly worth a shout out too, what a stunning little town y’all got here! Of course my partner Grace Mckendry makes being here a dream as well, Couldn’t do it without her, and honestly, I wouldn’t. In the past few months I’ve shown with two art galleries out here, one of which was a show curated by my friend Max Kauffman at a split use ceramics studio and art gallery called Urban Mud, Mary offers fantastic courses for ceramicists while managing a really sweet gallery space. Really genius community going on in there! The other space, is a bit of a Parthenon to me, Union Hall at The Coloradan has been hosting our Chain Letter show, which has been a dream to have hanging here. Shout out to Ari, the heroic head curator, Jess and Emma, the fantastic staff there, all of whom are Titans. Titans, on flaming Broncos of cool. OH MY SHIPPER JACOB, you can love a lot of people, but the shippers who get paintings out on time and safely mean the most. His business Shipist has revolutionized my experience and saved me so much stress. Finally, Cheesman park, I have never fallen for a park so completely, what a view!
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