Boettcher Scholar brings artistic process to Denver’s 16th Street Mall

02 Dec Boettcher Scholar brings artistic process to Denver’s 16th Street Mall

Boettcher Scholar Adam Buehler works on an abstract painting in the lobby of the building at 1515 Arapahoe Street.

Boettcher Scholar Adam Buehler works on an abstract painting in the lobby of the building at 1515 Arapahoe Street.

Adam Buehler had just added a splash of white paint to the canvas at his feet when a woman in a black coat paused just feet away from him.“What direction is the top?” she asked, considering the giant canvas.

Rather than answering, Adam turned the question back on her, causing her to sheepishly explain that that she was an accountant and not very familiar with art.

Conversations like this have become more frequent in downtown Denver as accountants and other office workers have been able to watch Adam, a 2002 Boettcher Scholar from Centaurus High School, produce a commissioned piece for the office building at 1515 Arapahoe Street. He has set up a temporary studio in the building’s lobby, just steps away from Denver’s 16th Street Mall.

The effort to bring what is usually a solitary process into a highly trafficked venue has been a learning experience for both artist and observer.

“It’s interesting; it’s so different from working in a studio where nobody is around,” he said, noting that he is getting instant feedback and commentary from passersby, rather than finishing a piece and possibly hearing feedback many months later.

Adam Buehler selects a color and contemplates the next step for his abstract painting.

Adam Buehler selects a color and contemplates the next step for his abstract painting.

The feedback – both positive and negative – was interesting enough that Adam put up a posterboard, and eventually a whiteboard to capture people’s reactions. Contributors have noted that the piece reminds them of everything from “the movie Robots” to a city street and even “a boring office painting.”

“I feel that way about some art too. It’s a legitimate reaction” Adam said.

A graduate of the University of Denver, Adam recently returned to school to study architecture at the University of Colorado Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning. His proximity to the office helped turn what was originally a traditional commission through Denver-based Nine Dot Arts into a public process.

Adam has been working on the piece between classes, painting on-site from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning in November, with plans to complete the project by December 7.

He acknowledged that his desire to engage with passersby to talk about art has had an impact on the piece.

“In order to make progress, I have to be a lot quicker,” he said. “I’ve had to jumpstart and not second guess myself so much.”

 

 

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