Decades of Influence, 2006
In 2006 MCA DENVER undertook its most ambitious initiative to date presenting the first survey of contemporary Colorado art, Decades of Influences: Colorado Art 1985 to Present. Unpacking decades of artistic production this curatorial challenge required installations across four venues—MCA DENVER Sakura Square, Metro Center for the Visual Art of Metropolitan State University of Denver, The Gates Sculpture Triangle, and Carol Keller Project Space. The scope of the project was unprecedented in the history of Colorado art.
What would a discussion about or exhibition of contemporary art be without controversy? Decades was indeed controversial largely due to those artists who were excluded from representation in the original series of exhibitions. While each venue drew historic numbers of viewers into dialogue about the histories of Colorado art the need to address criticisms seemed essential and potentially game changing.
…my ideas have been molded by my direct interaction with artists such as Stan Brakhage, Scott Chamberlain, Dale Chisman, Rebecca DiDomenico, Wesley Kennedy, Kay Miller, Bruce Price, Clark Richert, Barbara Shark and many others.
Payton’s magnum opus regarding Colorado art was Decades of Influence: Colorado Art 1985 to Present mounted during the summer of 2006. This homegrown blockbuster was presented only at the MCA itself, then located in Sakura Square, but also at the Center for Visual Art, the Carol Keller Project Space and the Gates Sculpture triangle. In this sweeping exhibition, by far the best-attended show the MCA has ever sponsored, Payton created a partial index to the significant contemporary artists in the area that have been active during the period. In the fall, Payton expanded her survey by following up Decades with Extended Remix. Taken all together, the two shows established the fact that Colorado has a rich vein of experimental art, mush of it having been heretofore ignored. The two back-to-back shows also provided something of a laboratory for future exhibitions in which individual currents that are merely sketched out in the exhibits may be expanded and explored more thoroughly. Though the scenery and Colorado’s much-vaunted light have long attracted artists to the region, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that the first real exhibition cropped up around here.
“[Cydney Payton’s] greatest accomplishment was 2006’s Decades of Influence and its followup, Remix. These shows attempted the not-inconsiderable task of surveying contemporary art in Colorado from 1985 to the present through the work of around 100 artists. […] The show was a groundbreaker, representing the first attempt by anyone to codify the current period into a historical context and establishing the credibility of recent Colorado art.”
—Michael Paglia, Westword, Thursday July 24, 2008