My daughter, a devout Catholic and an uberfan of the contemporary music scene, was teased with the statement that she goes, “moshing for Jesus.” Shortly after I learned this, I was sitting in a cafe [a great place, “The Noshery,” across from Regis University], and saw two young men speaking with great passion about their faith life and the nine holes they had played that morning—they belonged to a Christian campus fellowship that combines golf with religion, so “golfing for Jesus.” I teased my daughter that this seems a much healthier approach. She countered that she is no longer in college, so wouldn’t be eligible.
In a roundabout way, and I hope if they read this, they will be amused by the intro, this brings me to the Christos Collective, or “painting for Jesus.” The collective has a show presently at Artwork Network, a gallery at the corner of 8th Avenue and Santa Fe Drive in Denver. The artists, very different in styles, are held together by their common Christian faith and their desire to share that faith through art.
The other night my younger son and I caught the last half of the artists speaking about their work, and spoke afterwards with Tara Lynnsmith McConnell and Becca Karner about their pieces, the collective, and being an artist.
Nine artists are represented in the current show. About half the work could be considered abstract or non-representational, with the other half being more figurative. All the artists may be considered, as the writer Joyce Cary terms it, “professional amateurs,” to distinguish them from “amateur amateurs” who play at art but don’t really produce much and don’t possess the willpower, or maybe just the time, to produce much in the way of completed work. [Sort of like myself.]
Many of the pieces, not hard to imagine given the state of the world, dealt with the fight against meaninglessness and isolation and the need to counter this with love and respect. Tara Lynnsmith McConnell represented this in her piece with the symbolism of the fireweed that grows in burned out areas and helps to restore the soil.
My personal favorites among the pieces were two of the more representational, albeit whimsical. Jennifer Bunge depicted comical fish in watercolor and pen and ink. It evoked for me some of the better Mad Magazine art of my youth. She really has a great deftness with the materials.
The show is almost done so it would be advisable to get there quickly before April 3, 2017, when it ends. It is a good representation of what contemporary Christian artists are doing in the Denver area, and if you choose to support them in a more tangible way, the pieces are very affordable for fine art.