Denver artists strive to boost city’s cultural scene with new media-arts venue

Popular underground art spaces like Rhinoceropolis and Glob that have incubated up-and-coming Denver artists will be torn down over the next couple years and replaced with condos and trendy shopping complexes.

It can be tough for do-it-yourself cultural venues to survive in a city with rising rents and a weed industry that’s taking over warehouses where bands once wailed and video art flickered on plaster walls.

That isn’t stopping artists Christina Battle and Adán de la Garza from trying to find a permanent home for their nomadic microcinema, Nothing to See Here.

For more than a year and a half, the curatorial duo has showcased rare-to-experience media art including films and videos, sound, installation and performances that are smart and unpredictable, politically aggressive and decidedly anti-authoritarian.

“We’re not interested in the marketplace,” de la Garza told The Colorado Independent. Instead, he prefers conceptually based culture that can’t be bought or sold – art about ideas.

“We don’t see it enough here, and we really want to help in generating those conversations here.”

When the pair started the project in 2013, they were hopeful they could find a place to exhibit the media art that interested them. They looked at dozens of warehouse spaces, but none were affordable.

So they started organizing shows at bars, galleries and houses. They paid for everything, including artists, out of pocket and from whatever money was donated at the door. Wanting to give Denver artists international attention, Nothing to See Here toured programs across the country and to Canada, Germany and Mexico.

But, here at home, finding venues to showcase media art became progressively harder.

To keep going, they say they need to find a space and community support to pay for it. They have launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $20,000 to pay for rent and programming.

Compared to the multi-million budgets of the Denver Art Museum and the Center for the Performing Arts, Nothing to See Here’s expenses are a pittance. But the impact of their programming on Denver has already energized what was not so long ago a lackluster media arts scene.

A permanent space would allow Nothing to See Here the ability to offer the city more of their signature programming on a regular schedule, de la Garza said.

“It would be a real game changer for us and for Denver.”


Photo credit: Nothing to See Here