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Business Feature: Rule Gallery

Caleb Hahne in his Denver studio, ©2017, Black Cube, Nomadic Art Museum

RULE Gallery is a Denver art gallery that exhibits contemporary abstract and conceptual works, including paintings, sculpture, photography, and works on paper. Our team has been very much looking forward to their upcoming Boulder event, RULE@ThePool. The exhibit will feature work by artists with an historical connection to the Boulder community. We were so excited to interview Valerie and Rachel of RULE to find out more about this event and what their team has in store.

How do you choose which artists you showcase in your gallery?

We represent around twenty or so artists from across the country, many of whom have been associated with the gallery for over a decade and were chosen by our founder Robin Rule. Several of them started as RULE interns while they were in college or were discovered through Robin’s own diligence in visiting galleries and artist studios regionally and across the country.

We continue to select artists based on their aesthetic fit with the gallery, their commitment to their practice and their desire to follow their own vision rather than art trends.  What’s different now is that we include Instagram as an additional avenue of discovery for new artists. The whole thing is a very slow process and only a select few are asked to join the gallery permanently.

Pretty Powerful installation view. Seen here are the works of Amber Cobb, Sarah Bowling, Margaret Neumann and Abigail Lucien (photo by Wes Magyar/courtesy of RULE Gallery)

Are you working with any emerging artists that we should look out for?

We of course think you should be on the look out for all of our artists but one of the newest is Caleb Hahne, a recent graduate of RMCAD. His first solo show at RULE was in 2016 and was highly regarded by the public and exceptionally reviewed in media. He continues to develop a strong conceptual basis behind the work, keeping himself on the very edge of comfort in order to push the perimeter of ideas. At age 24 he’s already exhibiting all over the world. Currently we are working on a show that will feature his work alongside RedLine artist Molly Bounds at our Marfa, Texas gallery opening this October. Additionally, we are working with another wonderful emerging artist, Sarah Bowling. She has a few sculptures on view in our current exhibition, Pretty Powerful. That work is up through July 29 in Denver.  She’s definitely someone to watch. A few others would be Joseph Coniff, Nathan Abels and Jason DeMarte as well.

Jim Johnson, Memory Lane, 2016, charcoal on paper, 10 x 21 inches

How has Rule Gallery changed since it was founded in 1987?

Most of the changes to the gallery are a result of the evolving world.  With the advent of the Internet and the popularity of social media, artists and galleries are no longer truly “regional” in the sense that exposure can be so readily globalized if you choose. Exposure is no longer reliant upon walk in traffic and print media, though we are always grateful for it.

We’ve also become increasingly focused on collaboration within the art world system instead of seeing others as competition. That’s how we’ve come to work with incredible spaces like Mr. Pool in Boulder as well as Rifugio Modern, an interior design showroom in Denver. Working with like-minded individuals is the key to success.

Paul Gillis, Whirlpool, 2016, oil on board, 24 x 30 inches

What about the Denver art scene, in general? Has it changed significantly? How do you expect it to change in the near future?

The contemporary art scene has exploded in Denver. There are a significant number of new galleries, institutions and artists bringing an essential energy and edginess that are making Colorado a truly distinct place to experience art. We admire venues such as Seidel City, Dateline, Leisure, The Dikeou Collection, and co-ops like Pirate among others that exhibit work you might not otherwise have a chance to see in a completely commercial gallery. Colorado is also very fortunate to have curators who are interested in championing the area’s own contemporary artists within larger institutions such as the Denver Art Musuem, the MCA/Denver, BMoCa, Black Cube Nomadic Museum, and GoCa in Colorado Springs. On top of The Clyfford Still Museum and The Kirkland Museum, it’s clear that Colorado is a powerhouse participant in the visual arts.

Does your selection favor more abstract or conceptual pieces, or would you say there is an even mix of both?

Clark Richert, Star Pants, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 70 x 70 inches

First and foremost the gallery works with artists who have a distinctive voice in their practice. Some of them are working out visual concepts in abstract form, some work within a narrative, some lean more towards semi-representational. All of our artists are idea driven rather than what you would call maybe “decorative” or “designer.”

How did your relationship with Mr. Pool in Boulder come about?  

Terry Seidel, who owns Mr. Pool, is a special person in the art world.  Through his own artistic eye and his long-time friendship with local art luminaries such as Mark Sink and our founder Robin, he has been exhibiting some of most significant art in the region for decades.  Our personal friendship has only grown stronger over the last few years and we were honored when he approached us to see if we would like to take over curation of the space.  Boulder is a very smart and sophisticated town and deserves as many great venues for art as possible and we hope we can continue Mr Pool’s tradition.

Kim Dickey, The Bride, 2000, glazed white stoneware, 38 x 14.5 x 14 inches

Which artists can we expect to see in the showroom for the July 28th exhibition in Boulder?

For this first exhibition, RULE@ThePool, we are focusing on artists who have a strong connection to Boulder. The show will include Clark Richert, Margaret Neumann, Richard Kallweit, Paul Gillis, John Fudge, Charles DiJulio, Mark Sink, Jim Johnson, Dale Chisman, and Kim Dickey. Several of these artists graduated from CU Boulder with their MFA’s during an important era in the mid-sixties. Some went on to found Drop City, the first artists’ cooperative in the United States (1965), Criss-Cross (1974), a subsequent artist movement that developed after Drop City, and Spark Gallery (1979), still one of the longest running co-operative gallery spaces in the US. John Fudge, Jim Johnson and Kim Dickey have taught or still teach at CU Boulder. Many of these artists continue their strong friendship and exhibit together regularly.

What should visitors expect when they schedule a private showing?

The best part about running a gallery is working with the public and having a dialogue about what drives each artist, including his or her process, influences and conceptual basis. For those interested in a deeper exploration of an exhibition or a particular artists’ history it’s often best to have those conversations during non-business hours when there are no distractions. We typically have additional material on each artist, such as press, catalogs, publications; and potentially additional works of art or sometimes the artists themselves. Any private viewing, in essence, becomes a tailored experience and environment to learn in.

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