Manifest Hope Gallery: An Early Review

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Local designer and true FODE (Friend Of Denver Egotist) Amanda Cordsen spent Sunday afternoon as our pseudo-official representative for the Manifest Hope media event. Even after an afternoon of rubbing elbows and chatting with the artists, she took the time to share her impressions of the show. The show only runs 10 am to 5 pm through this Thursday, August 28th at 2990 Larimer St., so don’t slack. Until you get to see it for yourself, enjoy Amanda’s take on the show and these pictures she took while there. Click on the images to see them in greater detail.

What I saw when entering the Manifest Hope Gallery on Larimer and 30th is a space alive with its namesake. Not just the repetition of the actual word “hope,” no, you can feel it pouring from each of the pieces lining the walls. These artists, all the people involved in Manifest Hope truly believe in the message Obama speaks, and it shows.

I want to believe that a candidate can have such an impact, that there is someone so deserving of such dedication. And while I’m still on the fence about whether or not a politician can live up to this hype, I was impressed with the emotion at Manifest Hope. Forget politics; forget which party you affiliate yourself with. Stated over and again to me by artists and organizers alike was that these were not just images of Obama; it wasn’t about a man. The ideas that he stands for flooded the room, the message of change in a less than stellar time in our history. These people believe so much in Obama’s message they were inspired to create pieces endorsing him, imbuing some of their hope for the future in the viewer. This is grassroots at its best.

Maybe in some instances it would be creepy to be surrounded by so many incarnations of one man, especially one in a most despised profession. You could even try to call it idolatry. But somehow it wasn’t. The talent behind each piece was great enough to convey a message more than just a portrait. Obama was merely the face of a greater dream.

The visual expressions this vision took are each amazing in their own right: Mac’s mural of two hands clasped with the simple word “UNITY” titling them, David Choe’s energetic mural of Obama’s profile, Sam Flores’ painting of a dozing motherland in a field of poppies as the nation burns, Shepard Fairey’s giant mural in the center, as well as pieces by local artists and many others, all the overwhelming presence of a face we all know quite well by now. Add to that other images depicting hope and change and you’ve got a great showing of fantastic work. But this is about more than the artists or a single man; there is a bigger picture. Sure, some fantastic names were present, but there weren’t the typical gallery labels and artist focus. This was the artist reception, and as they milled with reporters and calmly had their pictures taken, it wasn’t really about them. It was about dreaming of a better tomorrow and a leader and country they could be proud of.

Standing tall at the far end of the larger space next to Fairey’s piece are the matching images from Ron English that struck as especially bold: Abraham Obama. The man who freed the slaves, a republican icon merged in an image with the democratic presidential hopeful, intent on freeing the masses from all they face today. Back then it was a republican who made a difference and many now see a democrat who could set things right. It took hundreds of years to free the slaves, as English commented, so one person cannot be the single saving grace. Today it’s not slavery that needs conquering, but we need quite a few things fixed.

This all may sound like hero worship, but I was overwhelmed by the passion in this gallery. A lot of emotions and opinions are involved in politics, but wow do they fire up the greats! They’ve made the desire for a new political era tangible. And an added bonus is that Senator Obama is the first presidential candidate to have an official arts policy prior to entering office. The full scope of this policy can be seen hanging near the entrance to one section of the gallery. Here’s to a future for all those to follow in our creative footsteps. So head on down to Manifest Hope and check it out. It’s well worth it.

One of the gallery rooms at Manifest Hope. In the center of the room is a piece by Shepard Fairey.

“Abraham Obama” by Ron English

A Sam Flores mural

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