Imagining and facilitating youth art exploration

PlatteForum hosts ‘Imitation Simulation’ exhibit in its new annex

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If it sounds like you’re about to get run over by an RTD bus or some other vehicle when you go see “Imitation Simulation,” fear not.

Capturing bits of an artist’s life — whether sounds from nature, noisy traffic or other sources — is part of what’s behind “Imitation Simulation,” an exhibit that Annette Isham, a resident artist with Denver’s PlatteForum, worked on with about 20 student artists.

PlatteForum describes the exhibit as: “What is home and how do we belong to our environment.”

“As an artist, we kind of get caught up in our world,” Isham said. “Ask yourself: Who’s looking at this work and how does it affect them? People will get things about it, such as how do people relate to their home, and the soundscape, made up of everyday sounds from our area. A lot of my work has to do with identity and learning about geography … whether it’s being able to look at the mountains or the landscape.”

“Imitation Simulation” is part of a larger story, as it is the first exhibition held in PlatteForum’s Annex Gallery, 3575 Ringsby Court #103, in Denver.

“We are able to give our artists more flexibility in creating and imagining and facilitating their art exploration,” Michael Gadlin, executive director of PlatteForum, said of the new space and the organization’s big picture.

Gadlin has been involved with PlatteForum since 2009 when he joined its board of directors.

“It gives us the ability to control, and have, without pause, artists that come in and practice,” said Gadlin, a painter whose work has been shown in galleries. “We now have dedicated studio space. We also have the ability to have a full working gallery to exhibit their work.”

PlatteForum, known for its innovative arts, is a youth-development and artist-in-residence program that was founded in 2002 in Denver. The nonprofit organization teams disadvantaged youth with professional artists for long-term learning. The youths work with resident artists to plan, produce and exhibit work.

PlatteForum also recently announced it garnered a two-year grant totaling $274,000 from the Caring for Denver Foundation, making it PlatteForum’s largest donation ever.

To help put that in perspective, Gadlin said PlatteForum’s annual operating budget used to be around $260,000. Today, it’s approaching $800,000 and he expects to hit $1 million soon. Income sources include corporate gifts, local and federal grants and more.

ArtLab is the organization’s arts-education internship program for high schoolers and boasts a 12-year, 95% on-time graduation rate. Youth workshops, exhibitions, performances and events remain free to all.

“A lot of kids are looking for a community they can be a part of,” Gadlin said. “It gives a chance for young adults to see creatives really thriving and succeeding and giving them a platform, see how art plays a role in how to grow as a human being — how art plays a role in how to grow as a human being.”

PlatteForum, Annette Isham, Denver

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