Redline Studio is a unique art collective experience situated in the up and coming 5 points district just north of downtown Denver. 5 points has a long history with various arts from its earliest days as a jazz mecca to its cornerstone anchor, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Company. The beautiful and cosmopolitan Laura Merage invented the concept from her visions and imagination. An artist for 35 years, she’d been developing the idea for Redline for nearly 15 years. 5 years ago she finally took the plunge and decided it was time to bring her imagination to reality. Laura has a passion for education stemming from her earliest childhood and Redline is evidence of that underlying need. At the inception of Redline, Laura searched the city for the correct location ruling out hot spots such as LoDo and Santa Fe. She stumbled upon her building, a former vacuum cleaner parts warehouse, and instinctually knew she found her home. This space is by far the most beautiful space we’ve seen. It is expansive, open, sparse, clean, and elegant. The nearly 20,000 square feet encompasses a lofty gallery surrounded by studios without doors, a library, and a few glassed offices. Semple Brown, the architect firm insured all the walls are moveable, the doors are pivotal, and each room is open to the flow of traffic and creativity. The Redline is warm, embracing, and very comfortable. It is the first space I’ve really experienced a true sense of community. The term Redline is derived from the image of crossing a line in the sand: when you cross the red line, all is “forgiven” or embraced…education and commonality can occur.
The main goal of Redline is to educate. Laura believes that complete education is necessary to create a socially just world and education without art is unhealthily balanced. Studies prove that people learn best by incorporating three very important elements into general studies curriculum. These elements include;
- 1. Art: visual arts stimulate abstract thought, creative thought, and problem solving skills.
- 2. Music: music stimulates special reasoning and problem solving particularly in the realm of math and science. Mozart has been proven to increase IQ points in people.
- 3. Physical Activity: vigorous activity alleviates stress, levels out energy, and increases chemicals in the brain that bring feelings of wellness, self-esteem, happiness, and reduce depression.
Even though the USA has conducted these in-depth studies, we are one of the last developed countries to implement the findings and are continually reducing funding for these very programs in public school systems. Instead of utilizing proven methods for taming and inspiring unruly, frustrated children, we chose to drug them senseless with drugs for ADD and ADHD.
Laura commented that by the age of 2-4 years old, the natural creativity in children is crushed by parents, schools, daycare providers, social norms, and peers. The parameters of creativity are quickly reduced into blandness and anyone exhibiting creativity outside the socially accepted norm is often shunned. “Children can’t color the trunk of a tree blue because it’s obviously supposed to be brown.”
Redline has a unique mentorship/artist relationship with 4 visual art resource artists mentoring 15-19 resident artists journeying through the three year staggered learning program They also have a writers studio with 4 writers, and collaborative efforts between the artists and writers. Each member artist is required to give back 2 hours a week to the community in some capacity. Membership comes after a lengthy application process eliminating all but the most serious of applicants. Redline receives its funding through membership, classes, grants, SCFD, private funding and holds 501CB status. Their main funding is through membership.
The current show, “Human Touch,” consists of a collection held by RBC Wealth management; a Canadian Bank. This was such a hot topic due to the Occupy movement and social injustice that I don’t even have the space within this brief to fully delve into the dichotomy of the representation. However, the art represented was poignant and meaningful. PJ Damico, the Art Director of Redline addressed his position at length. He enjoys the position of being provocative in such that he likes to have different factions in different rooms at the same time. Clever. He really sees art as a means of connecting diversity, sometimes without their consent or knowledge. “Art is the greatest social change medium of our century-including film, television and music…it is subjugated to consumption.” One of the reasons Redline agreed to show this art is that corporate banks own the largest holdings of art, privately, up to billions of dollars’ worth of art that is privately held, and never available for public consumption. Corporate art is meant to manipulate within the bounds of Image Management. Redline wants to participate in showing this obscure art to the masses. In that, I won’t even touch upon the debate between Michael and PJ about art as the lowest common denominator for the public and their viewing pleasure! According to PJ it is most important to be truthful and let the chips fall where they may. “You cannot deconstruct the Master’s home using the Master’s tools,” and therefore, it is often more interesting to seem to embrace the corporatism than to buck the system.. Greater gains can be had by showcasing this privately held, conservative, corporate art than by shunning it.