Artopia 2012: A Review of My First Experience in the Denver Art Scene


Artopia 2012, put on by the Denver Westword, is an incredible night of art, music, food, and a welcoming breath of fresh air for an aspiring artist like me. With five venues and over 75 artists and vendors showcasing their talents, this year’s event was definitely a memorable one.

My best friend, Phil, had mentioned to me earlier in the week that he was going to check out Artopia. I asked him what it was and then later did a little research of my own. After reading about the event and seeing fliers posted all over town, I went ahead and spent the $25 for my ticket. As a first time attendee I didn’t know what to expect and decided that, if it sucked, I’d just head over to my usual watering hole and do my usual thing.

Saturday night came and it was go-time. We hit Club Vinyl first and perused each floor, talking to artists (one had a zombie Tupac shirt I really wanted… damn my bad habit of never carrying cash) and sampling some of the food. I wish I could remember the name the ice cream vendor because their chocolate ice cream was TO DIE FOR!! I grabbed business cards and made my own sticker. There was an awesome interactive display from Soapoint Graphics, a Denver-based design company, that allowed attendees to make their own stickers and leave their mark in colored Sharpie on a giant wall hanging. It was very cool.

There was all kinds of art including a display that involved brass baby heads attached to sculptured chicken bodies… which creeped me out… but I took a picture anyway. After checking out the rest of the artwork on the floors, Phil and I went up on the roof to watch a fire-dance performance which included my favorite, fire hooping. If the smile on my face didn’t say everything that I was feeling at that moment, I don’t know what else could have. It made me proud to be a hooper and inspired me to get good enough to where I too could spin fire someday.

We left Vinyl after the fire and headed over to City Hall… and this part of the evening HAD to be my favorite. The venue was sick! We immediately headed toward the live painting where the fire spinners from Vinyl were performing with LED hoops (*swoon*). There was an artist duo there called the Mad Tatters with freaky, unique pieces of art displayed and I was immediately drawn to one called “Grotesque Divine”. Before really checking out any of the other pieces, I asked the artist to hold GD for me as I was going to buy it. You ever have those experiences where a piece of art just calls to you? That’s exactly what this one did for me. It was like it was made for me.

We then ventured into the main amphitheater where the stage was set up… just in time to hear The Chain Gang of 1974. They had a stage presence that made you not want to leave. Their music is like if The Cure and Depeche Mode made sweet goth electro man-love, popped out an eye-liner wearing, strange haircut having baby, and named it The Chain Gang of 1974. It’s four dudes who know how to get the crowd dancing. In fact, as I’m writing this review, my Spotify player is currently playing their “Wayward Fire” record. I’m really looking forward to my next paycheck so that I can spend it on their music and merch. I danced my ass off to their set and am really looking forward to seeing where this band goes. They’re just too sick.

The night at City Hall ended with tunes from Human Agency, a group of three guys influenced by hip hop, EDM and awesomeness. You could really tell that they were passionate about the music they created and wanted the audience to have a good time. Their beats were funky and I honestly don’t think that anyone could have kept from dancing even if they wanted to. Like The Chain Gang of 1974, Human Agency has earned themselves a new fan.

At around 1am, we ventured over to Bar Standard and watched a magic show. If I remember correctly, I’ve participated in a Circus Sunday class with one of the magicians over at Guildwerks. They said they’re regular performers over at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret so I’m pretty sure it was the same guy. Anyway, I dug the magic show. It was comedic, fun, and able to keep the audience’s attention even though the night was coming to a close. While magic shows aren’t something I check out very often, these guys had the right amount of inappropriateness to keep me interested. I’m thinking I’ll be hitting up Lannie’s sometime soon for more entertainment.

Unfortunately, my friend and I didn’t have a chance to make it to Mo’s or The Living Room so I can’t give a full review of each venue. However, considering the amazing night that was Artopia 2012, I’ll be in attendance each year until they stop putting the showcase on (which I hope is NEVER!). Next year, I’ll make sure to get there early enough to check out each club and take full advantage of all the amazing art that Denver has to offer.

This experience really inspired me to get back into my art. Eventually, I would like to showcase my own pieces and become more involved in the art scene. I kept telling Phil that with each passing day my love for Denver grows. Last night proved once again why I am so proud to call this place home.


4 responses »

  1. What a grand experience you had and shared with us. I could feel the “excitement” from your words and am very pleased that you had so much fun. I continue to enjoy this blog. Keep up the good work.

  2. It really was AMAZING night. Very inspiring for me as well. Going to rekindle old ideas and give birth to new ones as well. So glad I was able to get a ticket. Very welcome breath of fresh air. Good people and good vibes. That ice cream parlor is called “The Little Man.” We’ll go get some ice cream sometime soon.

    • Hell yeah! We’ll definitely have to go there. I looked them up online. They make all their own ice cream at their on-site commissary and their flavors change from day to day… I’m excited.

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