We’re here with Javier Flores, who’s been a member of the Art District since 2002 with the CHAC Gallery. Since then, he received his bachelor’s degree of fine arts in painting, has been teaching at Access Gallery doing workshops showing painting, print making, and everything else he knows, and was one of the founders of the Boxcar Gallery Co-op.
How’d you get involved with the Boxcar Gallery? Was it just a bunch of your friends getting together and saying, “let’s do it?”
I had graduated the previous semester, in May of 2008, and then my buddy, who was going through the program that fall, told me that she had the opportunity to have a space on the Santa Fe Arts District. It’s been a place where there’ve been a bunch of Co-ops: Ilk and a bunch of other ones. She just asked if I wanted to try it out with her, and I was like “yeah, for sure.” From there, we started compiling a list of friends who A) could afford Co-op dues every month and B) had art that we respected.
What made you come to the Art District in the first place?
My initial entry was through CHAC. I started going to the member meetings actually for CHAC. That was while I was still in school. Most importantly, working at CHAC was a great opportunity to show at a gallery with a substantial viewership. So, I kind of fell into working in the Santa Fe Arts District, but it’s turned out really well.
What can people expect to see when they come to the Boxcar Gallery?
It depends on the month, because we typically have a rotation of the different members of the gallery. Anytime you come though, you’ll get a fresh perspective from a generation younger than the generation that established the Art District. It’s more contemporary, modern art.
You said that you want to see art from people that you respect, and Boxcar being a co-op, what do you look for in submissions?
It really depends on their media. Right now we don’t have any 3D media people, so we’d definitely like people dealing with some sort of 3D aspect…installations or whatever. Everything else is either painting, drawing, or mixed media.
Cool. Can you tell me about your work at the Access Gallery?
Access Gallery is a local gallery that deals primarily with people with disabilities: physical or cognitive. There, I teach classes as far as drawing, painting, or printmaking. It just depends on the day. Today I had open studio from 12:00 to 3:30 and I have an older gentleman that comes in but I also have 3 teenagers that are in there at the same time, so it just really depends on the day. Access Gallery is a part of VSA arts, or “Very Special Arts,” which is a national brand based out of Washington D.C.
Awesome. What’s the mission behind the VSA?
VSA basically is trying to allow accessibility to people with disabilities and have a venue for it. It’s not only about producing the work with people with disabilities, it’s about giving them a forum to show it and represent their work, especially on the Santa Fe Arts District.
So representing two galleries, what’s your day-to-day like?
Super busy. On top of being in the art scene here in Denver, I also started my own martial arts company with my friends, so when I’m not doing art, I’m training. Those are typically my days and nights. When I’m not doing art or training, I’m going to events that deal with the arts.
Besides working on your own, what do you do as an administrator and teacher at the two galleries?
I teach classes and act as a representative of the VSA gallery. We got a chance to go out to Boston at the end of this month, so I’ll be going out there to learn more teaching techniques. As far as Boxcar, my main job there is as vice president, and the things I do are new member recruitment, and a lot of advertising and promotions.
What’s your favorite part about working in the art district?
I would say the opportunities it’s given me in the art scene, in the district, but more importantly in the Denver art scene. I’ve had some great opportunities like, to teach classes on graffiti. I actually got a graffiti grant from the city through VSA, and we did a few of the murals around the district. I got the opportunity to go to Boston, for free. I’ve really had some amazing opportunities here.
If there was one thing you could change or one improvement you could make to the district, what would it be?
I don’t know about a change, but I would like to see more younger generation artists taking a position of power. Not as far as like chair, secretary, vice president, and stuff like that, but I mean honestly, just putting themselves out there, going to the meetings, and representing their gallery…Talking about their art and bringing a fresh perspective.
Outside of the Art District, what are some other Denver art spots that you’ve been to or that you would recommend?
Of course, the Denver Art Museum…The MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) is great, Illiterate Magazine, up there on Broadway, In the Ink right next door. I like seeing a fresh perspective, and all the stuff I grew up with like graffiti, tattoo, and all those cultures coinciding with art.
Who are some artists you’re into on a national or international level? Who are some artists you’d recommend?
Oh, there are tons. Juxtapoz just had this amazing sculpture artist on their website. It’s an Italian artist who does these segmented sculptures, where the pieces are put together, but each piece is like a realistic figure. It’s awesome. Mac 1 is an amazing graffiti artist. If you haven’t seen his stuff, I DEFINITELY recommend it. I got a chance to have a show with him through the Denver Botanical Gardens a few years back, and just seeing him paint is amazing. He’s just in there with a fat cap in one hand and his reference in the other, just blocking in areas, and it’s perfect.
Swoon is an amazing installation artist that does like paper cutouts. But recently she’s gotten bigger spaces, and she just got this factory, and did a complete installation in the factory of all these cutouts of paper people, whole scenes, and objects.
Sounds awesome. Wrapping up, do you have anything else you want to talk about?
I really think it would be really great if for 3 months out of the summer, they could block off the streets of the Santa Fe Arts District, for June, July, and August.
Do you mean for First Friday, or for the entirety of the summer?
I think it would be cool just for First Friday. I mean, Santa Fe Drive is such a busy street, but on first Fridays, if there was enough notice, I don’t think it would affect people too much. I think it would be fun.