We had the good fortune of connecting with Eric Robert Dallimore and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Eric Robert, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Leon started in 2011 out of a need in the Denver area to create an art gallery that was more forward-thinking than the traditional commercial galleries which existed. At that point, I had lived in Denver for 6 years and had become close with a number of remarkable artists across the city. I quickly realized that a lot of these creatives were often overlooked because they were just starting out their careers or their ideas were too radical to sell in a commercial setting. It was out of this void that the concept for Leon was born. Leon was created to celebrate the boldest and most profound works that artists were envisioning. I suppose we were trailblazers in that sense, but in reality, it was just common sense to me. Leon is a place that said yes to audacious and intelligent ideas, yes to hard work, yes to undaunted expression, without any limitations about the superfluous factors surrounding artists’ works and their careers. Creativity is an expression that exists without limitations inside the artist’s mind. Why would an art gallery or an art industry try to limit the core definition of creativity? So, we humbly began our course and have continued to grow since day one. You’ve seen what we can do as a small organization, just watch to see what we do in the next 10 years.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Working in the arts has been an all-encompassing enterprise for me. I wear several hats in my job: Artistic Director, Arts Educator, and Professional Artist. Over the last 20 years, my personal work has tended to shift more into the activist, public art, social justice, environmental camp. I have purposefully used creativity & art as a tool to affect change in our society. This change is so deeply needed t make a more just and vibrant world. Humanity is an evolving experiment and we should constantly self-evaluate, round off some edges, sharpen others, seek justice, and demand equality. Education, awareness, and understanding are crucial to our world becoming a better place and so I have used my works to address these 3 issues surrounding social, political, and environmental justice. Lately, however, there has been a new creative flower growing in my garden that I am interested in developing further. It is stemming from a question and desire to explore the intersection between architecture and public art. I have a lot of questions and curiosity about blurring, bending, and balancing this perceived line between sculptures we can live in/with and the hands-off approach to sculpture. It is a curiosity about interacting with art as a physical, living structure that goes beyond traditional architecture and also extends the functional aspect of sculpture. It will be rooted in Mono-ha, Minimalism, and a new discipline I am calling Impossible Balance. I have a residency coming up in October 2022 at the Chateau de La Napoule Clews Center for the Arts in La Napoule, France where I will be exploring this question further, using wood, clay, and paper as my core materials. Stay tuned to see how this evolves. That is the thing about art that I enjoy so much! Art is an unanswerable question and a never-ending philosophical debate about this world and the human experience. I have questions that I enjoy asking of myself in my work and then there are questions that I enjoy listening to others ask and explore in their work. Together or apart, it creates a powerful symphony of understanding the world through different perceptions. Often, the two overlap or connect no matter how vast the perceived distance can be when you keep exploring and keep digging. I enjoy discovering that mystical thread that exists between all things. So, this is where it is beneficial to me to be both a curator and an artist. At times, I wish to wear one hat more than the other, but that is a personal balance that I have learned to maintain and enjoy. Now, this may keep me busier than some folks, but I truly don’t mind one bit. I don’t do well with idle time, so it is a good thing to have this deeply vested interest in my work and have several ways of analyzing, researching, and developing. As an Artist, Artistic Director, and Arts Educator, I still have a lot of growing to do…and that makes me excited about the future, it makes me feel fulfilled to look back at my past, and most importantly, proud of where I stand now.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Of course, a quick trip to the mountains would be in order for all of the outdoor things, but here in the city, there is a lot to explore. Day: Coffee would probably happen at Lula Rose General Store, Pablos, or Crema. Lunch would be picnic-style with a sandwich at Marczyks and then we could run around the Denver Botanic Gardens or Cheesman Park. I am not a big shopper, but I’d take them to see my homie Matt at FM on Broadway for clothes/jewelry/records. We have a lot of great bookstores in Denver, so I’m sure at some point we could dive into any of the small boutique stores around the city (Capitol Hill Books, Kilgore, Mutiny Now, or Book Bar). I’m a big cyclist, so we would probably cruise the Cherry Creek Trail/Platte River trail during the day for giggles, or if they are adventurous, I absolutely love bombing through downtown during rush hour. To keep that theme rolling, I love skating around the city, esp in some of the parking garages downtown late at night, so hopefully, my guest is into that and we can zone out with our headphones and skate like we own the night. Night: That could be a fancy affair with dinner at Fruition, Potager, or Beast & Bottle (I’m all about eating and shopping sustainably), and then drinks at El Five. For a chill night, it would definitely be Sputnik, Thin Man, & Pon Pon. For music, I have never been disappointed by the High Dive, but also enjoy swinging by Lost Lake. If there were a good play, ballet (Wonderbound), or performance happening, we’d probably check that out too. Of course, I love the MCA, Dateline, Robischon, David B Smith, and Rule Gallery to dive into the local art scene. I’m sure I’d want to take my guest to go visit several friends’ art studios to see what they are working on and chat. I’m also very much into board games, dinner at home, and a backyard fire, but nobody wants to hear about a night in the house, we are in the middle of an isolated pandemic! Let’s dream about the return to social life! Did I name drop enough in this answer? I could go on and on. I am a New Orleanian through and through, so I am all about enjoying the merriment and I do love Denver oh so much.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shoutout has to go to Eric G. Nord and Camille Shortridge. Leon really is a beautiful, big family so there are 1,000 friends who have made us what we are today, but Eric and Camille have really been instrumental to our success and growth. Eric Nord started as my business partner in 2015 and currently serves as our Executive Director. Camille is now on our Advisory Board but has played several key important roles since she started working with us in 2016. As a team, we each bring our own strengths to the organization, but we also have a lot of cross-over to offer support in a variety of ways. A triangle is the strongest shape, and together, Nord, Camille, and I have been able to make Leon indestructible. Eric Nord brings deep intelligence and professionalism to our table, having worked for years at Speroni Westwater in NYC, Brooklyn Academy of Music, The New York Shakespeare Festival’s Public Theater, The New York Society of Ethical Culture, and he served as Executive Director of the E. E. Cummings Centennial Celebration…. just to name a few of his celebrated accomplishments. Without his guidance, we never would have made it through our transition and growth from an LLC to a 501(c)3 non-profit arts organization. Beyond the administrative, Eric really is one of those people whose knowledge and depth of the arts are unparalleled and unwavering. He is a beautiful combination of artist and art historian who brings the right questions and the right answers to our organization. I consider Eric Nord to be a dear friend and dedicated partner in this remarkable thing we get to do every day. I can go to Eric for advice on anything I am curating or developing and his input is invaluable. He makes me want to be a better Artistic Director and person. Camille Shortridge is nothing short of a phenomenon. I can go to Camille anytime for advice, enthusiasm, and truth in contemporary art and culture. I met Camille right her senior year at DU and watched her grow and blossom as a professional. She is a big picture thinker and a dreamer like me, so we can uplift one another, celebrate art, and get really excited about what is happening in the creative world around us. She has been instrumental over the years to help our messaging at Leon reach a broad audience. Under her guidance, our gallery has grown into something more impactful to a wider audience, as the former Chair of Advertising and Social Media. Her curatorial eye is admirable as well, and I am excited to announce that she will be curating her next exhibition in 2022 at Leon. I’ve been unbelievably fortunate to be surrounded by these two amazing human beings over the years. They are the dream team and it is because of them that Leon has become the meaningful arts organization that exists today. There are a lot of factors that drive me each day to become better at my job, but Eric and Camille are always my rocket fuel and telescope. Together we will go further and in the right direction. I’m grateful every day for that.

Website: www.ericrobertdallimore.com | www.leongallery.org

Instagram: @ericrobertdallimore | @ifoundleon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/leongallery

Youtube: Leon Art Gallery

Image Credits
The four interior shots of Leon are all credited to Amanda Tipton Photography.

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