We'll Be Seeing You
Solo Show featuring Jack Balas
Curator Cyndey Payton

Run Dates: June 3rd - September 7th 2008
Opening Reception:Tuesday June 3rd, 5pm

MCA Denver Museum
1485 Delgany Denver, CO. 80202

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A changing installation and exhibition of photo portraits and paintings at Denver's new Museum of Contemporary Art, WE'LL BE SEEING YOU is done in collaboration with members of the Denver community. Based on the idea of metaphoric or environmental portraiture, each sitter arrives at the museum's Project Gallery itself for a photo shoot armed with answers to a questionnaire Balas sends out ahead of time.

Says the artist: "Normally when I photograph somebody, I ask a number of questions beforehand -- not only about interests, but also about words, phrases or ideas important to him/her, which can be written on signs that appear in the images. I also ask people to bring in some personal objects that may have special significance to them. Thus, the portraits can go beyond the normal focus on surface looks, and can delve into a metaphoric realm. For the last 12 years in photography, and for the last 3 years in painting, I have devoted much of my time and thought to portraiture and metaphor.

"For this project, rather than my usual bodybuilder-type models, I am creating a chain of models that starts at the museum and branches out into the community. I am starting with one person from each of MCA-Denver's six partner educational institutions and asking them to recommend the next person to come, hopefully people whom they would not expect to find visiting an art museum, let alone be depicted in one, and that person recommends the next, and so on. This progression of the least-usual suspects could get pretty far beyond the MCA over 10 generations or so. Each person comes to the museum for about an hour for the shoot, and would come back to see his/her image in the exhibition and be encouraged to write his / her thoughts on the print itself, about what they see and how they like being seen in this context."

The installation in the project gallery will grow during the first half of the exhibition's run as more portraits are added to the walls in a flow-chart / tree diagram. Some of Balas' time will also be spent working on watercolor paintings that depart from the photographic source material, giving sitters an insight not only into the creative process, but also showing in concrete fashion everyone's potential to represent ideas and metaphor as human beings -- i.e., that we all are the stuff of history (and art history).

Overall, Balas sees the museum as an anchor point for this chain of images and ideas tossed out into the community, one that draws everyone (and their families) back for the exhibition -- an exhibition that might be considered more accessible, due to its subject matter, to many who might not be that conversant in or are even intimidated by contemporary art.

We'll be seeing you.


about the artist: Jack Balas is an artist working in painting and photography, cross-referenced at times with writing and other media. His goal is to make images that are memorable not only via their stylistic variety, in a sense creating flags that signal a kind of symbolic territory, but also to offer the viewer a kind of map where it is the viewers responsibility to build bridges across the middle ground between images and ideas. He has received his BFA and MFA from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb. He has exhibited widely, including at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts, AZ; University of Wyoming Art Museum, Laramie and the Tucson Museum of Art, AZ. He received a fellowship from the Colorado Council on the Arts, Denver and from the National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, D.C. He is represented in the Kent Logan Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

about the curtor:
Payton has led the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver since 2001, during which time she spearheaded the campaign to build a permanent home for the museum, resulting in a $16.5 million building designed by British architect David Adjaye. She increased the museum's annual budget from $360,000 to over $2.8 million, and she organized U.S. museum premieres for such artists as Yu-Cheng Chou and Collier Schorr. Before joining MCA Denver, Payton served as director of the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.

about the gallery:
MCA DENVER is an activator, content provider and immediate research vehicle of culture in the making—a museum without a front door—a place for public engagement. MCA DENVER has five distinct galleries, three spaces for education, multiple sites for special projects/commissioned works and one live art/lecture hall. The galleries perform in a rotation sequence that allows the Museum to always remain in an active state, thus offering something new to be seen upon each return visit. MCA DENVER excites artists and visitors alike to enter into creative conversations that extend beyond our walls.

Installation view: MCA Denver Museum, Dever, CO. 2008. Image courtesy of {CTS} creative thriftshop, New York
Jack Balas, We'll Be seeing You, 2008, mix media installation, demensions varies, installation includes works on paper, pen, ink, watercolor, enamel, and, digital prints