Artist Derrick Velasquez recently unveiled his 26-foot tall sculpture, New Brutal, for a one-month exhibit at Stanley Marketplace. The 6 x 6 foot tower built with bare plywood and Tyvek also has elaborate white molding. It is, he says, “in a lot of stages—and the city is in a lot of stages. It’s something to contemplate.”
On trips in the East he has viewed older row homes—crumbling or demolished—that leave an empty space between them. “In some ways this is my way of thinking about what fills up the spaces that are either vacant or need to be reclaimed in some ways. But those spaces are only 15-20 feet wide. And you see this negative space in those (missing) row houses.
“Verticality is something that I wanted to do also. I wanted something that’s a little off proportion too. It [the sculpture] is only a six by six foot footprint.”
When he travels in the East or in Europe he takes pictures of trim molding. With all the ornate trim on the sculpture, it’s not surprising to hear him say, “I love that stuff. It’s trying to jam American and European designs in one piece.”
Velasquez moved to Denver from the San Francisco area in 2008 and has been observing the numerous buildings at all stages of construction, which is the Denver influence on the sculpture.
Velasquez was approached by Courtney Stell to pitch an idea for a Black Cube exhibit. Black Cube was founded in 2015 to spread their belief that art is an essential part of a healthy society and it does not exist just within the white walls of museums (thus the name Black Cube).
Black Cube funds the creation of works by “fellows” such as Velasquez and searches for locations for temporary exhibits. With this approach they aspire to reach new audiences not regularly exposed to contemporary art.
Velasquez says they wanted a construction site for his sculpture. “That shifts the idea that you have to have some white cube museum that doesn’t influence—but totally influences the way you look at art.”
Velasquez teaches in the Fine Arts department at Metropolitan State University of Denver and the University of Denver. He has undergraduate degrees in Art History and Studio Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Ohio State University.