Draft Urbanism brings together artists and architects from across the Americas to examine the evolving relationship we have with our cities, acknowledging and embracing that urban space is inherently in flux. Four large-scale architecture installations will address site-specific urban challenges and key planning issues presently facing downtown Denver, while artwork and text will be exhibited on billboards and signage throughout the area, temporarily refashioning the city as one giant exhibition.
Curated by Cortney Lane Stell, First Draft examines the relation between the artistic process and drafting. Featuring the work of twenty-two Colorado artists, the exhibition highlights the role of the artist as an investigator of new or unfamiliar ideas and forms. In this sense, a draft, rather than being a stage on the way to a final version, is a completed work of art in itself, representing a paused moment within an artist’s exploratory practice.
In today’s world, nothing is final – everything is a draft of a draft. Our computers, phones, and cars are newer models of older ones; the programs and software we use everyday exist as one version of many; we watch remakes of movies and listen to covers, remixes, and samples. Even the word draft, itself, lacks specificity or finality. It can refer to things as different as a preliminary sketch, a compulsory recruitment of military service, or a wisp of cool air.
As the name implies, Draft Urbanism takes on this plural and incomplete condition and explores how the multiplicity of meanings within the urban environment could be articulated by some of the Americas’ most talented artists and architects. Dispelling the assumption that drafts are unformed, incomplete versions of a final state, Draft Urbanism proposes the unknown and amorphous as the most vital moments for strange, unexpected ideas to take hold.
Draft Urbanism also pays homage to Denver’s long tradition of brewing and explores how beer explicitly connects individual experience with larger citywide systems. In 1859, Denver’s first city government was established in a saloon on Larimer Street called The Apollo Hall; Adolph Coors founded his brewing company in 1873, and today it is home to the largest single brewing facility in the world; Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper made his way into state politics through the success of his brewery, the Wynkoop Brewing Company; Colorado brews more beer and has more craft breweries per capita than any other state in the U.S.
Brewing, distributing, selling and, of course, drinking of beer is deeply woven into Colorado’s social and economic fabric. What we drink, where we drink and with whom we are drinking, reflects and shapes the way our cities behave and the way we behave in our cities, as beer explicitly connects individual experience with larger citywide systems.
With more than 20 craft breweries in the Denver area, and more than 100 breweries in Colorado, brewing has become not only a socio-economic organizer, it has also become a unique and sophisticated cultural keystone for the Centennial State. Denverites don’t take beer lightly; for many, it is an item of civic, social and cultural import. Ultimately, Draft Urbanism is a celebration of the diverse ways the urban future could be addressed through the arts, while maintaining a deep understanding and respect for the city’s rich, fluid history.