The Power of Art

It has been an exciting month for The Hanzon Foundation.  We successfully fundraised for the outstanding public artwork, Equal Threshold - a thoughtful, compelling, and timely work at Denver Pridefest.  And we awarded Monica Rocha with the Foundation award at the Trash Fashion Show on June 9th.  Both were incredible events and I was extremely proud to represent the Foundation as a judge at the Trash Fashion Show.  More fun than one can describe in one Blog!!

For more about Equal Threshold and Trash Fashion Show - Click Here.

Thinking about these events, I was once again struck by the power of art and the ability of artists to draw us in as viewers and participants into a dialogue. I taught Art History for 10 years and one story I told my students every new semester was the tale of my first truly engaged experience with art.  I grew up with an art teacher for a Dad so I visited many museums in many cities but my first true memory of being drawn in mind, body, and soul was when I first saw Alexander Calder’s Circus in New York.  If you don’t know the piece, it is a collection of wire, scraps, and found objects melded into a whimsical amazing circus with parts that can be moved to perform individual acts.  Of course the subject matter drew me in as a child, but what really stuck with me was the possibility that art could be anything!  Art could be made out of things from your junk drawer and art can make you smile as well as make you think. 

This all came back to me while I was judging the Trash Fashion Show.  The use of recycled materials, the innovation, the energy, and at times the humor, drew all of us in the audience in. We were amazed by the possibilities!  Surprised how things we consider junk and trash could become beautiful works of art and fashion.  I will never look at a lawn chair, old vhs tapes, or window screens the same way again. Art of any kind, should expand our vision, should delight us, and should make us think, even if we are giggling at a man's bottom seen through the remnants of a plastic lawn chair.  

As an art historian, I began to compare images of Calder’s Circus, to drawings by Lonnie Hanzon. I was struck by the similarity between the way Calder formulates figures with wire and Lonnie Hanzon draws.  The strong, bold lines that undulate and guide our eye around the work and the page are extremely similar which, let’s admit, is funny and surprising.  Comparing a defined, abstract minimalist to the supreme self-proclaimed maximalist seems somewhat absurd.  But the similarities in technique, motivation, sense of humor, and ability to draw us in are there just the same. No wonder both artists are two of my favorites!  You can see some examples of what I mean below.

A huge thank you to everyone that donated to The Hanzon Foundation and participated in this exciting month.  We simply couldn't do it without you!

Shanda Plock