Bill Amundson is one of Denver’s most significant contemporary artists, having exhibited over 65 times since 1980, maintaining pieces in the permanent collections of all three major collecting museums in Colorado: Denver Art Museum, Colorado Springs Fine Art Center and the CU Art Museum, along with representation at Plus Gallery and guest lecturing at various stateside universities. Modern In Denver is delighted to share this insightful Q&A with Bill in light of his solo exhibition, Blurred Vision, opening this Friday at Plus Gallery.
You were finishing many of your pieces for the upcoming show the last time we talked, are you happy with the way they turned out? What is the theme of this show?
In general, I’m fairly happy with the show. I’m pretty anal retentive, so there’s all kinds of little things that drive me crazy and I’m never entirely happy with anything I’ve done, but I’m pretty pleased with the variety and amount of work I’ve done this time around, and it looks good hung up in the space. As far as themes go, its basically a humorous, absurdist and somewhat anxiety ridden response to the world in general and my world in particular. Some work is political in nature, there’s some low self esteem portraits and there’s a lot of work that deals with my recent relocation to my home state of Wisconsin.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your lettering and machinery?
As far as inspiration for my lettering and machinery, I’m always looking at various industrial sites, etc. for interesting stuff-pipes, wires, refineries and the like. I don’t use specifics usually, I just draw from memory and try to make them work out aesthetically a little bit. I’m also looking at signage all the time, so I borrow a lot from various signs that I see. I’m currently using a lot of lettering that’s retro futura in nature, from the 30’s to the 50’s.
Is the exhibition traveling elsewhere after it closes at Plus+Gallery?
Hopefully this show will sell out, so it wont have to travel any father than the gallery here in Denver. I realize that is far from likely, so I’m sure some pieces will show up in future exhibitions. But the show in this current format is a one off event.
It sounds like you have a lively talk on November 4th, complete with props, interruptions and souvenirs. Can you tell us more?
My gallery talk will feature me trying to explain the work in a lively, informative matter. I will have a bunch of show n’ tell type items to aid in my presentation, and a wide variety of giveaways from the midwest to sweeten the pot and force folks to pay a little bit of attention. As an added bonus I have a sponsor who just happens to produce a fine tasting alcoholic product-the Colorado Cider Company. They’ll be serving several versions of their Glider hard cider. This should make listening to me more tolerable. Hopefully it will a terrific party and I won’t prattle on too long. I’m quite excited about getting to explain the work. Artists rarely have folks to talk too.
We are utterly thrilled about the print you made for Modern In Denver, can you give us any insight?
The print is my version of 4 imaginary art franchises in the modernist mode. I thought that would be fitting for your publication. The first, McMondrian’s, is done as a cross between the DeStijl and the bauhaus style. The second, Claes Oldenburgers, draws its inspiration from the 50’s California googie style. The third, Henry Moore and More (Art With Holes) is done in a Frank Lloyd Wright cantiliever style using wood and stone, like something from the Fallingwater period. The last one, the Millenium Beanery, is a legumres store inspired by Anish Kapoor’s millenium bean sculpture in Chicago. It features a lot of polished steel as well as architectural elements from the PLUS Gallery itself, where my show is being held. I think the print is highly suitable for framing and quite attractive. It would be a pleasure to sell a slew of them at this reasonable price.
(note from the writer: Absolutely reasonable! This is the first print Bill has ever made!)
What’s next for you?
What’s next? I plan on going back to Wisconsin to suffer through a terrible winter with my wife, my 93 year old father and delightful cat, Harmon. If I sell enough work I will just go back to producing more drawings – hopefully bigger and better and more accomplished and insightful than these. I will seek out more places to exhibit, and begin planning more shows for Denver. I will visit the dentist. If I don’t sell much art, I will also be looking for some honest work, probably at the local Quick Trip, to tide me over. It always seems to be this way, the romantic life of the artist.
Bill’s show, Blurred Vision, opens this Friday at Plus Gallery, with a special lecture on November 4th. Read the artist profile from the Fall issue of Modern In Denver, online. View Bill Amundson’s intricate drawings and view the special limited edition print Bill made exclusively for Modern In Denver.