Monday Night Menagerie: Breathing life into Denver's uncertain DIY scene

Monday Night Menagerie: Breathing life into Denver's uncertain DIY scene

Written by Micah Forester | info@odessadenver.com  

12.15.2016

(Denver CO) Mondays undoubtedly have a bad reputation. The excitement of the weekend closes, shaking us back to the reality of daily life. The city streets are empty and the winter chill accentuates the silent air. But inside Cervantes’ Other Side, Menagerie offers a breath of life to Denver and seeks to help this once unfortunate day become an anticipated start to the week. 

"Menagerie is all about family, all about love...Not about the dollar at the end of the day.” 

Doran Joseph started Monday Night Menagerie as a platform to showcase the vast array of Denver creatives. Each week, a variety of musicians, visual artists, vendors, dancers and everything in between, come together to foster uninhibited creative expression. Gallery Coordinator, Chad Peterson, emphasizes that Menagerie is an area where “you can come with any creative facet you want and be yourself completely.” 

It’s clear that the current artistic landscape is in flux. The traditional venues are unable to support the exponential growth of Colorado creatives, making alternative spaces an integral component to bringing new art to the public. Menagerie bridges the gap between carefully vetted work and DIY spaces; after it’s 62nd week, many people are making Monday nights here a routine. 

Live Painters from Left to Right: Kara Rener, Manuel Valdez, Ryan Martinez & Parker Ledford

Live Painters from Left to Right: Kara Rener, Manuel Valdez, Ryan Martinez & Parker Ledford

In focusing on a wide range of mediums, styles and experiences Menagerie is able to support a large scope of artists at any point in their career. Last Monday featured EDM DJs, but past events have seen spoken word poets, acoustic sets, and live bands. While there is a certain anticipation to this approach, Menagerie lacks a clear artistic identity. The challenge here lies in maintaining an adaptive environment that speaks to multiple demographics while maintaining a consistent following and reaching new audiences. 

Peterson explains that, fundamentally, "Menagerie is all about family, all about love. Not about the dollar at the end of the day.” In order to see the Denver art-scene expand, this type of support to up and coming creatives is imperative, but it pulls into question the consistent quality and professionalism in the work presented. This puts the future of Menagerie in a difficult spot moving forward. 

“you can come with any creative facet you want and be yourself completely.” 

Attendees watching a performance by Harperspective

Attendees watching a performance by Harperspective

They have succeeded in building a solid audience base and built a reputation that welcomes all artists. Taking advantage of this growth creates an opportunity for organizers to lock in more established artists with enhanced professionalism and the ability to bring in new demographics. Based on the programming style and message Menagerie has the potential to develop into an event that recognizes the undiscovered cream of the crop. In doing so, they risk losing aspects of the ‘anything goes’ excitement and emphasis on supporting all creatives. Once again, an organization’s growth slowly makes involvement more competitive and selective. On the flip side, maintaining the open-arms mentality can stunt its growth leaving newcomers, who may not understand the foundational message of love and support, uninspired. 

Moving into 2017, Menagerie must carefully balance the mission with growth. They have created something unique and necessary to our city’s artistic identity, but can love alone sustain them? 

 

 

Click here to learn more about Monday Night Menagerie

*Opinions expressed by Odessa Contributors are their own.