Words from Max Kauffman - In April I was back in the city of Denver for an art show. Visiting the offices of Like Minded, Jon Lamb asked me if I was interested in doing 'something special' for that years annual Colorado Crush mural fest. We walked the few blocks from their office and stopped at a beautiful, crumbling house, a gem among all the slick new construction that had sprung up around the neighborhood in the last few years. He said the owner, Mercy, had said I could do whatever I wanted.
I met and got to know Mercy the last few weeks working on her house on Larimer Street. Her history, in the neighborhood and her own life, is rich. If Larimer had a mayor, it would be her. She'd tell me stories as I worked, and, at some points, even collaborated on the project after she told me of her woodworking skills. I'd never tried a saw zaw before, but her confidence with it inspired me to create a few sculptural pieces for her garden. Several friends and volunteers also helped, and most had not used the tools given to them before. But again, the idea that anyone could assist and try, empowered them.
My work for the last few years has been going deeper and deeper into an architectural realm, inspired by concepts of house vs home, of sanctuary, of solace from the chaos of the world around us.
What I do in two dimensional form is also meta - where its self-aware, informing a series of smaller and smaller worlds. So taking this project was fun in that it was me filling in a space I had already created in my studio work.
The idea with the house was to celebrate culture. Honor it in the face of relentless growth. Gentrification is neither good or bad; it is simply a force. Hopefully this relic of what the neighborhood was will inspire the new citizens of Larimer by honoring the past. A message of heritage for those who may not know Denver's rich past.
Mercy isn't sure of the fate of her house, but she does know it will not be sold. She thinks it could serve as a museum of the area, to further instill new generations with the culture that this area once possessed. It may also be a residency for artists; a haven for visitors to stay and work on projects they may have in the Denver area. One thing is for sure, a new paint job never hurts an old house.
After translating my work to a medium such as this, I hope to continue this exploration in other environments, particularly those that are rapidly turning over as newcomers enter and disrupt the idyllic quiet of long established communities.