By Emily Clingman-Johnson
Fort Collins is ripe with local talent. From music to paintings, everywhere you look there are artsy treats for the senses. What’s especially tasty is the subversive scene of alternative art making its way out of basements and into Old Town storefronts.
Bryan Collins is paving the way.
Formerly housed at the Gallery Underground (GU) – a community gallery in Old Town that is now closed – Collins opened Rendition Gallery last month at 251 Jefferson Street, in Old Town Fort Collins. It’s fresh, crisp and airy with natural light streaming in from every corner. It’s professional and classy. Most importantly, it features neobrow artwork.
Neobrow is a progressive reference to the term “lowbrow” – a word that amateur artists coined for themselves when art snobs would lower their brows in a patronizing way at their work. Traditionally trained artists felt that this underground style lacked technical skill and talent, thereby rendering it illegitimate and not worthy for general public consumption.
“This attitude alienated lowbrow artists from museum curators and art schools,” explained Collins.
Lowbrow art often has a sense of humor, is sarcastic, kind of creepy, or simply kind of “out there.” It’s not a traditional painting of your grandma’s fruit bowl. And it’s not just paintings either. There are sculptures, toys and digital art that fall into this category as well.
These lowbrow artists have created a movement of sorts – a campaign to show the world that their style is just as legitimate as the classically trained painters.
“Call it progressive, pop-surreal, neobrow, whatever,” Collins said. “Basically, the old formula is thrown out the window and the result is expressive and thought-provoking.”
Well, there’s nothing wrong with that.
In fact, Collins is such a huge supporter of alternative art that what he’s done with Rendition Gallery makes perfect sense, especially with the knowledge that once GU was shut down, local neobrows would be looking to fill that void. He also has many contacts around the country and the world that want to be represented in the Fort Collins art market. Collins knows that there’s a lot of local chatter about making Fort Collins an arts and culture destination. He figured, why not create a space to go on the map?
Rendition Gallery has three floors. There’s an entrance gallery in the front, which will feature themed exhibits each month. These shows are open to all artists worldwide. Here are some upcoming exhibits:
• Oct 7-Nov 2: “It’s ALIVE” – A Halloween-inspired exhibit
• Nov 4-Nov 30: “Chugga Chugga” – An exhibit themed around trains
• Dec 2-Jan 4: “Caffeine” – Art inspired by coffee and tea
Continuing onto the main floor, there is another room that hosts local art on the walls. It also has a stage for live Friday night performances, or a venue for sketching classes. There is space for an upstairs exhibit as well, and a handful of resident artists –including Jeff Herndon and Rolfe Bautista – have set up shop in the basement-level studio area.
Rendition is also on the national radar. Disney artist Scott Tolleson will be submitting his work for the Caffeine show, and The Food Network may be filming at Rendition in the near future.
“These are the kinds of things that are going to elevate Fort Collins to ‘destination’ status,” Collins said. “I feel the momentum. I feel the energy.”
That’s probably because he’s the force behind it. Collins is passionate about his new adventure and wants the public to jump on board with him.
“You don’t have to have a lot of money to enjoy and support these artists. You can come in with five bucks and leave with something cool,” he said. “We’re trying to encourage a mentality to support local artists.”
“You don’t have to go to Denver or Santa Fe for awesome art and limited edition art toys. We’ve got it all here!”
Rendition Gallery is located at 251 Jefferson Street, near the corner of Linden and Jefferson Streets. Rendition is open on Mondays-Thursdays from12pm-5pm and on Fridays from 2-10pm. The gallery will feature live music every 2nd and 4th Friday night and a free group sketch night (using clothed models) every 3rd Friday of the month from 5-10pm. Find out more at renditiongallery.com.