Artwork by Aesop Rock and Extra Famed Hip-Hop Artists Involves Bitfactory

Dan Drossman has been making artwork since he was 5 years outdated. Over a long time of devoted follow, his model has developed into cartoon-esque, multimedia avenue artwork, usually impressed by rap and hip-hop.

“When I attempt to get into [painting], I all the time play music,” Drossman says, “and if I discover a tune that I actually like, I am going to put it on repeat.”

That is precisely what he did at some point final 12 months, listening to Homeboy Sandman’s “Calm Twister” over and over whereas he was portray. “Whereas I used to be making [the painting], I used to be like, ‘[“Calm Tornado”] is a good title for this paintings,’” Drossman remembers. He reached out to Sandman, asking if he may title his artwork after the tune that impressed it.

Sandman immediately clicked with Drossman’s artwork. “I used to be like, ‘Wow, these things is fly,’ so we simply started to cut it up from there,” says the New York rapper.

In March 2022, Sandman got here to Denver for a present and invited Drossman, who moved right here from New York in 2017, to satisfy up in particular person. That is when Drossman hit Sandman with an concept that he’d had percolating for a number of years: to create an occasion that showcases totally different mediums of artwork created by rappers, each visible and musical.

“Music and hip-hop have been very intertwined with my artwork,” Drossman explains. “And in listening, it is vital to have the suitable rap rhythm. … I used to be simply fascinated with how there is not any actual separation when individuals say, ‘I am not an artist, however I am a musician,’ or, ‘I am not a visible artist, however I am a musician.’ All of them form of blurred to me.”

As Drossman and Sandman started to formulate the present, Sandman’s internet of connections within the rap and hip-hop world was key to discovering artists. “I feel at first it was simply luck for me to know them, however now they’re simply popping up out of the woodwork,” Sandman says.

He started reaching out to different rappers, together with the famed Aesop Rock, Child Pimples and Deca, inviting them to showcase their totally different mediums on the similar occasion. He was in a position to get these artists on board, together with Isaac Sawyer and Quelle Chris, however Sandman says he will not be contributing any visible artwork: “I am not going to deliver a knife to a gunfight,” he says.

“Artwork is essential to me,” he clarifies. “It is positively a part of what’s crucial about how I launch the information. The duvet artwork, the artwork related to the singles. … The aesthetic and the frequency being broadcast by the artwork for the information could make all of the distinction.”

The fruits of Drossman and Sandman’s efforts is Seen Planets: Famend Rappers and Their Visible Artwork. The exhibit runs by August 10 at Bitfactory Gallery, the place there might be a free meet-and-greet reception with the artists on Friday, August 4, from 6 to 9 p.m. That might be adopted by a particular live performance at Herman’s Hideaway on Saturday, August 5, beginning at 8 p.m. Each occasions are sponsored by Summary, Artist Proof Collective, KGNU and Ashley Garrett.

“We needed [a name] that was going to embody the truth that these artists are all very distinctive and one in every of a sort. They’re their very own world unto themselves,” Sandman explains, including that Seen Planets additionally calls to thoughts the invisible, or lesser recognized, work of the showcased rappers. “It is also a nod to Digable Planets, which was a hip-hop group that made a incredible contribution to hip-hop on the time,” he says.

Visible artwork, particularly avenue artwork, has been intrinsically tied to hip-hop for the reason that style’s conception within the ’70s, constantly showing because the backdrop for music movies, cyphers and rap battles. Like avenue artwork, hip-hop is about empowering marginalized teams, giving them a inventive and public platform to specific societal dissent and sociopolitical views.

“All of the cats I grew up with did graffiti and tried a number of issues — made beats, rhymed, tried their arms at turntables,” says Deca, a rapper and artist who grew up in Denver. “I feel that is a fantastic level, the truth that graffiti is an integral part of hip-hop.”

click on to enlarge an abstract painting using yellow, blue, orange

Certainly one of Deca’s items, “Cosmic Slop.”

Courtesy of Deca

Deca has been drawing and rapping since he was younger. In center college he would freestyle in his yard with mates, and he joined a hip-hop group referred to as Elemental in highschool. In 2004, when he was eighteen, Deca dropped his first solo album, High of the Line Backside Feeder. As for visible artwork, “my older brother painted, so I grew up watching him paint,” he remembers. “I draw comics, I received into graffiti, and that was big for me all through center college and highschool.” He remembers sitting in school, so absorbed in doodling on the margins of his pocket book paper that he would tune out his lecturers.

In 2010, he moved to New York, the place he is exhibited his visible artwork in a handful of small exhibitions. However one in every of Deca’s largest exhibits was in January 2023 right here within the Mile Excessive Metropolis, the place his work was displayed alongside Drossman’s for Bitfactory’s seventh annual No Present exhibit.

Two new items by Deca might be displayed at Seen Planets. One is a splash of black ink that he says he made as “sporadic however unified” as he may, whereas the opposite is created from paint splatters on a wooden panel. “I by no means need to make detailed items,” he explains. “I am simply going to do one thing, simplify it. After which it all the time finally ends up taking me like two months to complete them. This was no exception.”

His paintings is closely impressed by his experiences in nature; he loves exploring the woods and analyzing the abundance of intricate patterns that encompass him. “I have been going tenting quite a bit just lately, and I like simply bugging out and gazing tree bark…and patterns bugs make within the wooden and people form of issues,” he says.

To Deca, his visible artwork and music are mixed. Though his relationship with music creation is a extra severe dedication than his fling with artwork, he emphasizes that each mediums are vital expressions of his lived expertise. “His music is meditative; it brings you in, and there is a good rhythm to it. After which to see his work, it is simply the identical factor…however visible,” Drossman says. “Attending to know him as an individual, seeing his artwork, listening to his music — it is all simply flowing creatively.”

Sandman and Drossman are flying in six different artists for the occasion. The exhibit at Bitfactory will show artwork from Deca, Aesop Rock, Isaac Sawyer, Quelle Chris and Child Pimples, whereas the live performance at Herman’s will embody performances from Blu, Sandman, Deca, Quelle Chris, Child Pimples and Isaac Sawyer, in addition to DJs Felix Fast4ward and Spectacular Diagnostics.

“This present goes to be a surefire factor, so far as a rap present. We ain’t received to fret about nothing,” Sandman says. “Even when the facility cuts out, these cats are the actual deal. We’ll go a cappella all night time.”

Deca, Sandman and Drossman may be wanting ahead to totally different elements of Seen Planets, from assembly different rappers to socializing with Denverites, however all three can agree that the occasion is a one-of-a-kind expertise. “So far as I do know, it is by no means been achieved — an artwork present of all rappers,” Deca says.

“The vitality that these [performers] transmit is useful to the listener…and Dan has offered a brand new platform,” Sandman provides. “That is going to be the primary space on this planet the place these particular, distinctive, glowing people are going to transmit…on one other medium apart from the one which they typically do.”

Seen Planets free artist reception, 6 p.m. Friday, August 4, Bitfactory Gallery, 851 Santa Fe Drive. Seen Planets live performance, 8 p.m. Saturday, August 5, Herman’s Hideaway, 1578 South Broadway. Tickets are $35-$500.