Wednesday, June 30, 2010

MERGE: Alumni Exhibition 2010. Featured Artist: Celina Grigore

Each week, from now until August 28, the Office of Alumni Relations will do a short Q&A with one to three artists who are featured in the Center for Visual Art’s MERGE: Metro State Alumni Exhibition.

This week's featured artist is Celina Grigore ('98, art). Originally from Romania, she relocated to United States in 1993. She gleaned her education and experience with art both through her travels outside of Romania and while attending the National University of Art, in Bucharest. She majored in fine arts after completing a 6-year program. She then pursued another degree in Communication Design at Metropolitan State College of Denver, graduating in 1998.

Metro State: How would you characterize your art?
Celina Grigore: Passionate. Engaging. Intense. Symbolic. Metaphoric. Imaginative. Process-Oriented. … and, at this time, literally: BLACK-and-WHITE.

I learned to treasure the objects and beings around me not merely for their pictorial quality but more for their symbolic meanings and potential archetypal configurations. On the infinite dome above, I may instinctively contemplate the "illusory beauty of flying wings." Beyond that, the challenge is to open my eyes wider and look for the "inward nature of flight." The process of structuring my fantasy into the solidity and character of balanced compositions is a key component of my mind and the reason why my life is a perpetual adventure.

MS: Tell me about your latest work and why you are inspired by it.
CG: Inspired by travels, journeys, flight, time, space and the coexistence of opposing forces, several cycles of pen & ink drawings have emerged from my studio, awaiting their unveiling to the public eye. One is the "Migration" series: Traveling is experiencing with intensity.

Beyond exploring, traveling is about acquiring a sense of place.

Beyond contemplating the flow of shapes in a landscape, I kneel to the ground, run my fingers through sand, dirt, grass. I focus on the silence. In that frame of mind and spirit I try to feel the life force within, a pulse.

Beyond entering and exiting a space, I accumulate visual information by observing key-characteristics from up-close and up-above. I make note of features from a variety of perspectives to the target-objects: from the growth pattern of a leaf to the structure of a village seen from atop a medieval tower, from the abstract erosions carved by time into a piece of stone to the striped vineyard patterns on the hills of a Tuscan landscape. Up-close characteristics generate texture. Up-above characteristics determine structure.

By the time I leave, I have an imprint of that place.

My studio work starts with translating that imprint–an exaltation of the senses–into a visual language. A new journey is about to begin.

The process of distilling emotion into formal elements generates a wave of idea-sketches. Key elements start defining an essence of space. Communicating to the viewer a sense of space is not done by means of expected spacial relationships as much as it is done by means of emotional association and symbolic interconnections."

MS: In what ways did your Metro State professors influence your work?
CG: The education at MSCD contributed in a definitive manner to my integration and understanding of a completely new social and cultural environment. The years spent at MSCD allowed for the favorable encounter with professors of high caliber like Mrs. Carla Tedeschi, an exquisitely knowledgeable, upbeat graphic design professional. One of the elective courses that had a high impact on me was Black-and-White Photography with Mr. Greg Watts along with the opportunity to spend countless hours in a well equipped dark room working on my photographs. Ever since, I have never parted from a camera for more than a couple of days at a time, evolving into the all-digital.

MS: How has your work evolved since you graduated?
CG: The education that I had been privileged to be offered at MSCD prepared me for being able to dive within days after graduation into the competitive graphic design, advertising and corporate identity field in Denver. I have been involved with a large number of interesting projects from their inception through their completion. The positions I held along with a solid number of diverse freelance projects allowed me to meet impressive top notch professionals in the communication design field from whom I have acquired meaningful knowledge and new perspectives. This decade-long experience allowed me to grow as a professional and as an individual. I have worked at building my fine arts body of work in ALL available time that holding full-time jobs have allowed me to. Since 2007, I have dedicated myself full-time to pursuing my fine arts career. I consider that to be my true passion and my vocation in life.

Tell me why you submitted the pieces that you did for MERGE.
CG: First: I believe that the symbolic connotations that pieces from the "Migration" series carry within them are relevant to the audience that the new location of the "Center for Visual Arts" now has the opportunity to reach.

Second: The pieces from the "Migration" series are representative of the body of artwork that I have been engaged in developing for many years now, specifically the past three years.

Not in the least, I invite you, the reader, to come to CVA, see "Metaphor. Migration" as part of the "Merge" exhibition and make your own mind up about the "Why" of my choice. … Or you can simply ask me directly. I will be there.

MS: How do you feel about this opportunity to present your work for Metro State’s new CVA facility?
CG: It is an honor to have been selected as a result of a juried process to be part of the upcoming "Merge" exhibition. As an MSCD alumnus, I'm quite proud of the latest accomplishment of the Art Department having been able to acquire a permanent home for the "Center for Visual Art." There is no doubt in my mind that CVA will do a great curatorial and public relation job for all upcoming exhibitions, "Merge" included, keeping up with their tradition of excellence for the past 20 years.

MS: Is there anything I’m not asking you that you want to share with me?
CG: How about plans for the immediate future? I would like to have the opportunity to exhibit most of my "Migration" black-and-white drawing series in a contemporary space that could accommodate it in size, spirit and level of public exposure. I strongly believe this body of work deserves a well-curated public exposure in a "brick-and-mortar" gallery. I'm working towards it, and I hope that one day one of my proposals to a prestigious exhibition space in the Denver/Boulder area or elsewhere will become a relevant, tangible art event. It is no secret: my heart is set on Colorado, the place I have landed on by choice and developed new roots as part of my own migratory journey as a free citizen of the world. Looking back, I'm pleased I did.

For more information on Celina Grigore's artwork, you are invited to visit the artist's Web site. Or check out a Web site of her exhibitions by clicking here.

All photos Copyright © by Celina Grigore. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

MERGE: Alumni Exhibition. Featured artist Jason Lee Gimbel

Each week, from now until August 28, the Office of Alumni Relations will do a short Q&A with one to three artists who are featured in the Center for Visual Art’s MERGE: Metro State Alumni Exhibition 2010.

This week’s featured artist is Jason Lee Gimbel. Gimbel graduated from Metro State in 1998 with a BFA in Drawing and Printmaking. His work has displayed in venues throughout Denver.

Metro State: How would you characterize your art?
Jason Gimbel: My art can be described as a deconstruction of my own processes and ideas. I am a conceptual figurative artist.

MS: Tell me about your latest work and why you are inspired by it.
JG: The pieces that I’m creating are digital assemblages of my figure drawing. Most on my work consists of destroying and rebuilding my own work.

MS: In what ways did your Metro State professors influence your work?
JG: Reflecting back on my Metro days, I see how certain influences dominated my art and how I slowly broke away from that influence. I try to be mindful of how external noise seeps into my work.

MS: How has your work evolved since you graduated?
JG: I focus more on mastering what I do; it’s about the refinement of my process and tapping into deeper thoughts that create a narrative. When I was in college, I was more concerned with earning a degree.

MS: Tell me why you submitted the pieces that you did for MERGE.
JG: I am proud to be a part of the Metro Alumni and fully support the CVA and its staff. I think that it’s an amazing facility and happy that the CVA has a permanent home in the Arts District. Why would I not submit my work?

MS: How do you feel about this opportunity to present your work for Metro State’s new CVA facility?
JG: By being included in this exhibition, I feel that I am helping to continue grow the legacy of the CVA and Metro’s Art program. It’s an honor !

MS: Is there anything I’m not asking you that you want to share with me?
JG: I have a sweet tooth; I’m a smart ass with random epileptic attacks of seriousness and somewhere in the murky mess of my life I manage to be an artist.

For more information on Jason, please visit his Web site.

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Where are they now? Photographer & former Art Dept. Chair Barbara Houghton dances with Galileo

As one of the first female photo program heads in the United States and one of the major advocates for an off-campus Center for Visual Art (CVA), artist and former Art Department Chair Barbara Houghton made a lasting impression on Colorado with more than just her pictures.

“She left a very significant mark at Metro State in the Art Department, and she was an integral part of making the Center for Visual Art happen,” says Jennifer Garner, the CVA’s director and curator since 2005. “I know she would give credit to other people, but without her it wouldn’t exist.”

So what is Houghton doing now? According to her, she is dancing with Galileo, taking photos of women in India, and teaching photography at Northern Kentucky University (NKU). As well, she was recently invited to jury the Center for Visual Art’s MERGE, Metro State Alumni Exhibition 2010.

“It was a real honor to be able to jury this show,” Houghton says. “The work was really varied in approaches. You don’t want students to come out of a college and just keep doing work that looks just like the work of the people who taught them. I want them to have their own vision, and I saw a lot of that. I chose the work I thought had something special about it … with an original approach or that was more traditional, but really well executed.”

Houghton will be at the Center for Visual Art on the opening night of MERGE. And her visit will be a homecoming. Houghton first came to Metro State fresh out of graduate school in 1974. After spending time teaching photography, it eventually became her turn to be chair of the department.

“We had a rotating chair thing going on at the time,” she explained. “And it was my turn to be in the hot seat!” However, while it was a lot of work, Houghton appreciated the experience she gleaned in the position. She learned about budgets, met people outside the department she wouldn’t have connected with otherwise, and she says, “I learned a lot about being organized and seeing the global picture.”
Plus, she worked with the late Harry Gianneschi, founder and vice president of Metro’s office of institutional advancement, to convince the College to fund an off-campus gallery that would eventually become the CVA.

She and Gianneschi submitted “three or four” versions of a plan for the gallery. “We kept writing over and over again until it was like water torture until finally it was approved,” she says. And their idea was that it would evolve. “When we wrote it, we saw it as the big picture. We saw bringing in shows that would be good educationally for students and the art department, but also for the community.”
Aside from “running a pretty good photo program” that produced many successful artists and photographers, Houghton believes initiating the off-campus gallery was one of her most notable accomplishments at Metro State.

Garner agrees. “Barb’s legacy lives on through the CVA.” But, adds Garner, she brought so much more to Metro State. “She was so energetic and really knew how to personalize her teaching.” And, Garner adds, she was a visionary who was behind getting the first computer generated art going in the department.

“She created the first computer lab at Metro,” Garner recalls. “I remember these little tiny Mac computers, with tiny black and white screens, and she had animated something on the screen, and it was like, “whoa!!” It was a big thing back then. She always had her finger in what was going on, in what was new. She was really able to see and steer the department in a profound direction at the time.”

Though she left Metro State in the early 1990s to become Chair of the Art Department at NKU, Houghton never lost her inspiration to try new things. While on sabbatical for the past year, she recently visited India to photograph women helping women. And she’s created numerous exhibits based around the idea of “how do we become ourselves?”

“I have always been interested in how we find our way and how we became the people we are,” Houghton explains. “I work with metaphors about that.” One of her favorite exhibits was an installation based on her fascination with discovering what made Galileo who he was. It featured photos she took of all the places where Galileo visited and lived, a video of her “dancing with Galileo” (she had a friend dress up as Galileo with whom she danced), music by Galileo’s father, and a narrative about Galileo that went around the walls of the exhibit, among other things.

“This piece was about my love affair with Galileo,” she explains. “The more I read of his writings, the less I knew him. He became this more real figure for me, with lots of flaws, but he was still my hero.” To see the exhibit, click here.

Now her focus is on finishing the piece on India. Then, she says, she’ll attack the long “to do” list that she has formed over the years. She works in her studio every day, whether she is teaching or not.

Houghton admits that while she is content, she often misses Colorado and Metro State. “The students we had at Metro were really sophisticated,” she explains. “A lot of times when you have students who are just out of high school, they aren’t as determined to get an education. They don’t seem to care or want it bad enough. But most Metro State students really wanted the education when they came, and that was a blessing.”

And Houghton’s former Metro State students are as respectful of her as she is of them. According to Gallery Sink owner and former student of Houghton, Mark Sink, Houghton "was one of the first to make me realize you can make contemporary experimental fine art with a camera. She believed in me and had a sparkle and excitement in her eye. Her passion was (still is) infectious. We were flying making amazing bodies of work, filling walls for critiques while the tradional photography class next door had not taken a picture yet!"

Garner echoes Sink’s opinion. “She was a mentor; she had a huge impact on my college career here at Metro, both through multiple classes that I took from her and a study abroad I did with her in London. She’s an amazing educator, amazing person, and amazing artist.”

To read more about Houghton, visit her Web site by clicking here.Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Alumni Business Spotlight: Mason Capps opens new Denver restaurant OiNKs!

Tucked away in a quiet mini-mall in the Park Hill neighborhood lies a spiffy, clean and fast casual new restaurant called OiNKs! Started by Metro State Alumnus Mason Capps (English, ’98) and his wife, Bobbi, this BBQ joint boasts fresh ingredients and supplies that are biodegradable, compostable or made from 100% post-consumer materials.

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

“We are focus on sustainability in each action we make,” says Capps, from the “to go” menus, which are printed on paper made from 100% post consumer waste, to the recycled and/or repurposed equipment and furniture that they found at a Denver auction house. As well, they buy local, natural and sustainable meats whenever possible and are currently looking into the possibility of composting their food waste on site.

“We know that restaurants have done a lot of damage to our earth in the past, and we feel that going forward we all must find more eco-friendly ways of running our businesses to remain successful,” he explained. Giving back to the community is also a key component of their business plan.

“We want to be a working part of the community we serve,” Capps stated. The couple has already hosted their first benefit night, donating 40 percent of their sales to Feed Denver, a local non-profit urban farm. “Even as we grow as a company, we don't want to lose those community ties and will continue to host these benefit nights for local non-profit organizations we believe in.”

So why a BBQ restaurant? “When I met my wife, I found someone who shared the same dream and has skills and talents that are complementary to mine,” Capps said. “OiNKs! is the result of a lifetime of work and a marriage of talents.”

With decades of experience in the restaurant industry between them, the couple knows what it takes to run a restaurant. “Quite honestly, I have never been more confident about something in my whole life,” Capps stated. “My wife Bobbi is the best partner I could ask for; she is tough, funny, realistic and resourceful. She helps me balance business time with family time. We have a great team in place and several family members that work hard to help us succeed.” Plus, his 9-month old Rylan inspires him. “He’s the real man in charge!”

Still, the new job has proved challenging at times. “Running a restaurant is not for the faint of heart or the easily exhausted,” he said. But, he added, he thrives on the environment. “One thing that enables my success is a feeling of never being satisfied; always looking for ways to do what we do, better. Plus, he loves being busy all the time, meeting new people and making them smile. For Capps, “OiNKs! is a dream come true.”

For more information, visit their Web site.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

All Colorado Alumni Career Fair a huge success

More than 75 Metro State Alumni attended the 2010 All Colorado Alumni Career Fair, Thursday, June 17th.

"They came dressed for success," said Metro State Office of Alumni Relations representative Joshua Anderson, one of the organizers for the event. "The event went really well."

More than 60 employers attended.

Created with flickr slideshow.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

College’s off-campus gallery celebrates anniversary in a new home

June 4, 2010

On Thursday, June 3, nearly 500 people joined the Metropolitan State College of Denver Center for Visual Art (CVA) as it celebrated two milestones: its 20th Anniversary and its new, permanent home at 965 Santa Fe Dr. in the Art District on Santa Fe.

“It's really hard to believe it was a furniture gallery last fall,” said CVA Director and Curator Jennifer Garner, who thanked Metro State President Stephen Jordan “for the most amazing 20th birthday present the CVA could ask for.”

The evening was a culmination of efforts and well wishes, according to Jordan, who noted a number of supporters including the state legislature, Denver City Council, the Metro State Foundation, the Art District on Santa Fe and the Boettcher Foundation, which provided a lead grant of $425,000 to inspire other gifts and donations to the award-winning gallery.

Julie T. Lerudis, director of the grants program for the Boettcher Foundation (on behalf of Tim Schultz, president and executive director), said the new location “resonated with the trustees. We are pleased to be a part of funding for CVA.”

“I’m very excited about it,” said Tony Garcia, executive director of Su Teatro and an affiliate professor of Chicana/o Studies at Metro State. “I think this is a great addition to the arts district. It helps raise the bar in terms of diverse programming.”

The CVA’s new space offers greater opportunities for Metro State to connect with the Latino community – important to the College’s goal of attaining the federal designation of Hispanic Serving Institution.

Denver City Councilwoman (District 9) Judy Montero said because the art district is “very culturally rich and diverse, there are so many things creative people can learn about this district.” In addition, she named area schools, including West High School, that could benefit from the CVA’s presence in the neighborhood.

A division of Metro State’s Art Department, the Center for Visual Art contributes to the College’s status as the only public higher education art program in Colorado to maintain accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. This status, according to Garner, who is also an assistant art professor, will positively impact the gallery’s programming in the neighborhood. She promised “to offer the community the same caliber of program we offer our students.”

“A few years ago, I kept saying imagine the possibilities. We really have so much to look forward to,” she said.

The process from beginning to end has been great, according to Chair and Professor of Art Greg Watts. “I’m grateful that so many people at Metro State believe in the value of art.”

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All Colorado Alumni Career Fair

Twelve Colorado colleges and universities from around the state have collaborated to organize this exciting event exclusively for alumni from participating schools. This event is for people who have a bachelor's degree. Employers from a variety of industries will be present to meet outstanding alumni to fill professional positions.

Thursday, June 17, 2010
1:00-6:00 pm
Ramada Plaza Denver North
10 East 120th Avenue (Take I-25 to Exit 223)

The Ramada Plaza Denver North will be offering a discounted room rate of $79 on June 16th and 17th for attendees. To make a hotel reservation, call (303) 452-4100. There is no entrance fee and parking is free!

Come prepared. Dress to impress. And bring updated resumes!
To register for this event, click here. Please register before June 10th For questions, contact the Metro State Office of Career Services at (303) 556-3664

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Need beta testers for new Office of Alumni Relations website

Hello Alums! I'm looking for 10 more people to beta test the new Office of Alumni Relations Web site (June 7-July 25). The site doubles as our static site (which is available to anyone) and a social media platform (which is only available to alumni & friends of alumni). It has many LinkedIn-type components, including various ways to network for jobs, become a mentor/mentee, join groups, join discussions, and utilize directories to look up long-lost classmates, faculty/staff and/or alumni business owners. You can also share photos and send emails. We are offering some nice prizes and gift certificates to people interested in beta testing. As well, you get to be among the first to check out this new social media platform exclusively for Metro State alumni. Please contact me if you are interested.
-Lizzy Scully

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Roadrunners go head-to-head with the best

Metro State's softball season ends with a 53-6 record.
June 2, 2010, from @Metro

Last weekend, the Roadrunners made their mark in both softball and track and field.

Metro State's softball season ends with a 53-6 record in just the third year of the program. The team’s run in the NCAA Division II College Softball World Series semifinals game came to an end on Sunday, when they were defeated 7-2 by Hawaii Pacific.

To top off their fantastic run, Tara Mickelson and Jennessa Tesone were both named to the NCAA Division II Softball All-Tournament team on Monday following the championship game, which was won 4-3 by Hawaii Pacific over Valdosta State (Ga.)

Track and Field
Metro State men's track runners Anthony Luna and Shawn Lindbom both finished in the top four in the 800 meters at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Charlotte, N.C. Luna finished second and Lindbom came in fourth. Teammate Rick Bogatay finished 11th in the 1500 meter run.

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