Not Enough Gelt

emilio-lobato-detail-william-havu-gallery-denver-20091There’s something remarkable about the Golden Triangle—that tiny area can support 3 bike shops, a bunch of lawyers, tons of theaters and art galleries/museums, a charter school, and 4 TV stations plus Westword (the city weekly). Maybe it’s the proximity to downtown Denver? Maybe Colfax and Speer funnel a lot of traffic into the neighborhood?

Maybe it’s the Golden Triangle’s sense of potential, all those parking lots just waiting to be turned into condos. Or retail. I think it draws people.

On Saturday I found some places where the rich buy and the rest of us slum.

Howard Lorton Galleries is a furniture gallery three floors high where you could wander from floor to half-floor for hours. I had always thought it was an art gallery, and the prices certainly corresponded. I saw $10,000+ dining room sets, gaming tables, and a round table that had triangular leaves—the latter definitely tempting.

Howard Lorton couch Denver 2009I could just about afford the pillows. I asked myself, Why are some of these pieces so expensive? Is it just payment for the name?

I want furniture made of sustainable materials, built by hand by local craftspeople. I have a table like that in my house, and it didn’t cost nearly as much as the dining room sets at Howard Lorton. Although I suspect that its craftsmanship may not be quite as high as some of the pieces at HL, I don’t believe the difference accounts for all the dollars.

I’m handicapped by my ignorance of what makes furniture great. All I can do is look at a piece and notice unusual fabrics or what looks like good joinery. I don’t have encyclopedic knowledge of the features a high-quality dresser or couch must have.

walker-fine-art-prado-golden-triangle-denver-2009Next on my list was Walker Fine Art, which didn’t have the best signage. It’s located in another Craig Nassi building, the Prado, but inside the gallery looks like a prado-golden-triangle-denver-20091garage. In fact, that’s how Sarah referred to it when she suggested I turn my flash off to get better pictures.

I felt a bit intimidated, walking in. It’s not that the rich intimidate me—I went to Georgetown University, which in the early 1980s claimed as a student the son of the richest man in the world. I knew one freshman who got an airplane for her eighteenth birthday.

Even so, I’ve never dropped $5,000 for art. For a set of kitchen appliances, yes. Art, no. When I thought about it, I realized I could spend that on art if I wanted—it’s all a matter of what you value, what you save for. I guess my parents’ Depression values got passed on.

Once I met Sarah, though, I had a great time. I especially enjoyed Roland Bernier‘s mixed media pieces. He’s been doing “word art” since the 1960s, objectifying words and divorcing them from meaning. In one piece, he sculpted letters from wood and then covered them with reproductions of tattoos.bernier-word-piece-walker-fine-art-denver-2009

bernier-2-word-pieces-walker-fine-art-denver-2009Not sure that’s sustainable, actually, but there was so much to discover in the piece. And I felt a certain kinship with him—we’re both wordsmiths in different ways.

It was quite peaceful at Walker Fine Art until the repair guy showed up and made light-jackhammer noise in an effort to fix something. So I hied myself down Cherokee Street to William Havu Gallery and another artist I’d never heard of: Emilio Lobato.

He is, apparently, a student of the line—just about every painting except the one I photographed was all about lines of varying colors and thicknesses and layers. What drew me to the painting below was the word “tellurium” in the pages collaged onto the painting: I’ve been trying to write a poem about the element tellurium, which most often appears as a telluride of gold.

How appropriate.emilio-lobato-william-havu-gallery-denver-2009