"'Crossover' Is One of the Most Exciting Art Exhibits of 2016"
- 5280 Magazine, November 2016
Ed Kucera's "The Frontiersman," oil on panel, 20x16 (left), painted over by Doug Kacena to become “The Traveler - Just Us " (right)
In the boundless realm of art, where personal expression can be practiced virtually without restraint, there still exist boundaries rarely crossed. With “Crossover,” a groundbreaking exhibit at Mike Wright Gallery in Denver, visionary artist Doug Kacena plans to tear down one of the creative landscape’s most stubborn remaining walls and open a channel between studios too long peacefully, but persistently, opposed. To this end, abstract expressionist Kacena will be painting over completed works by 12 of Colorado's most talented, representational painters, and allowing them to do the same.
The show includes works by nationally renowned, local artists Quang Ho, Jill Soukup, Ron Hicks, Don Stinson, Robert Spooner, Kevin Weckbach, David Santillanes, Edward Aldrich, Terrie Lombardi, Ed Kucera, Mikael Olson, and Jeff Legg
“There’s a big divide between contemporary conceptual abstract artists and traditional representational artists,” Kacena explains. “There’s friendship, and mutual respect, but not much understanding.” With both schools content to approach the world in familiar perspective, the gulf between them has gone mostly unremarked. Kacena, however, occupies a singular middle ground, giving him a clear view of both the rift and its remedy. As a prominent abstract artist, Kacena’s affinity for conceptual art is bone-deep. As gallery director of Evergreen Fine Art, he’s intimately acquainted with many of Colorado’s finest representational painters and sculptors. As co-owner of Artuvus Studios, he’s immersed in media and genres spanning the creative map. And from his place at the crossroads of so many artistic avenues, Kacena has become aware of a professional division amongst his colleagues. “I started to see that abstract and conceptual artists really don’t go to representational shows, and representational/traditional artists don’t really visit contemporary galleries. It got me thinking about the concept of conflicting aesthetics, and I wanted to find a way to bridge the divide.”
"Crossover" featured in: Southwest Art Magazine, 5280 Magazine, American Art Collector Magazine, Art Ltd Magazine, Fine Art Connoisseur, The Denver Post , Westword, 303 Magazine and 1/1 Magazine
Ron Hicks', "Intimate Encounter," 50x40, oil on canvas (left), painted over by Doug Kacena to become "Redacted Memory" (right)
"Abstract painter reaches across the divide, and the results are impressive"
- Ray Rinaldi, The Denver Post, 11/27/16, Cover of the Life & Culture section of the Sunday paper
If shaking up entrenched biases is an ambitious goal by any standard, Kacena’s approach to bridge building is nothing short of seismic. For “Crossover” he’s prevailed upon a dozen of the state’s leading representational artists to give him finished paintings to do with as he will. What he will do is paint over them, re-envisioning traditional beauty in brash abstract strokes. Matching those sacrifices in kind, Kacena has surrendered many of his own precious works, each to disappear forever as thoughtful traditionalists permanently re-interpret them along representational lines.
Jill Soukup's "Paint in New York," oil on canvas, 48 x 448 (left), painted over by Doug Kacena to become “Release " (right)
“I didn’t want this to be a one-way conversation as with Rauschenberg's famous “Erased De Kooning” series or Ai Weiwei's controversial vase paintings,” he says, “but instead I want to create an interactive dialogue. I’ll be painting over the works of 12 of the best representational artists in Colorado, and they’ll be doing the same thing to 12 of my paintings.
There are no rules. How do you re-conceptualize someone else’s work? It’s a chance for us all to stretch our boundaries, to explore the similarities between our styles and confront deeply-rooted ideas about what is, and what isn’t, art.”
The unblinking lens of award-winning PBS documentary filmmaker David Schler will capture the entire process as irreplaceable works of art are redacted, and treasures as yet unknown are revealed. Many art-world observers are praising “Crossover” as inspired. Others condemn it as impudent.
"Mike Wright Gallery in Colorado is hosting a groundbreaking exhibition that will certainly move viewers to question the boundaries of creativity and the realm of art."
- Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine 2016
Robert Spooner, “Studio Arrangement,” oil on panel, 36x30 (left), painted over by Doug Kacena to become “Refurbished Floral III" (right)
Michael Olson, "Amber Light," 48x48, oil on canvas (left), painted over by Doug Kacena to become "Narrowing the Path" (right)