an underground tribute
»April 4th, 2011 by andi

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Our humble town of Fort Collins lost one of the best things to its name this weekend – The Gallery Underground. Why? Because of its success. Yes, the success of the gallery eventually lead to its demise.

The Gallery Underground’s initiator, Darren Mahuron, along with its non-conformist artists and free booze, made it the place to be every Fort Collins First Friday night, well, at least for those who appreciated something besides oil cow skulls and aspen trees. “Renegade talent,” we (I showed there for 1 ½ years) called ourselves. Those who held the space the 1 ½ years before me were the true renegades though. They were doing something that had never really been successfully accomplished in Fort Collins – co-oping one large space that would house alternative art – most of it too salacious for your average coffee show goer. Thus, they created and gathered and marketed collectively, all for the sake of unearthing unconventional cries that otherwise conservative Fort Collins had repressed.

I was lucky enough to ride the best wave – the one where all the previous artists had done their job at getting people there. By the time I was showing, alternative art lovers/party goers just showed up, and not a soul said saying anything about safety, codes, etc. We couldn’t be bothered by things like that. But, as the fun went viral, the gallery became less subtle, less elusive, less underground. A few months ago (2 months after I left), The Gallery Underground was busted by a Fire Marshal. The whole free-for-all atmosphere changed, leaving the gallery to limp for a few months before ultimately closing.

Why the long story about a gallery most people have never visited? It’s overall insight as to what makes something underground. France is really my best example of both literal and metaphorical underground. They have an entire city, nearly the size the above ground France, below ground. Grottos, mines, forts – all of the things you wanted to live in when you were a kid – exist below the beautiful cities and country sides of France. The metaphorical part? The cavernous depths of France are also hosts to parties, big parties, raves, to be exact. How many? Not sure. If I did, I’m not so sure it would be underground.

The Gallery Underground was sort of like this. The location was underneath the ground and the artists where alternative. Double entendre points there. But, the fact of the matter is, it outgrew its clandestine roots because of its popularity. My final thoughts are then, does fame, acceptance, approbation negate nonconformity? Or, is there room in rebelliousness to find subculture, credence and coolness? If the latter, here are some things for mavericks and mavens.

a. Brutal Knitting | alien pig knit mask
b. Terrence Payne | Goat Party print
c. Pollocks | dark paper doll
d. Kouichi Okamoto | Liquid Lamp
e. Tickety Boo | bad pencils
f. McPhee | glow-in-the-dark latex cow skull

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