Paintings by Sandra Azcarate.

Sandra Azcarate, Gallery Host & Artist

Sandra Azcarate, gallery host at the Denver Art Museum.
Mixed media artwork by Sandra Azcarate.

John, mixed media on canvas.

Do you do any creative or community-based work outside the museum? How would you describe it?

I recently had an artwork on view at the Museo de las Americas highlighting the issue of domestic violence in the Latinx and LGBTQIA+ communities. Domestic violence in the LGBTQIA+ community is not typically addressed or even spoken about openly. I focus on social issues in my artwork because doing so can shape people and hopefully create a better world. This piece caught the attention of the director of The Center on Colfax, and they asked me to do a solo exhibition. This new solo show will be highlighting the issue of bisexual erasure.

For this exhibition, I did a ton of research, reading people’s stories from all walks of life who identify as bisexual, and who came out at many different points in their lives. I wanted to tell the stories of these individuals in my paintings so that they could feel like their voices were being heard. I also will have a work on view at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art that focuses on the caravan of people who attempted to immigrate to the United States from South America in 2018. In the painting, I have depicted the moment when the Mexican government sent militia in to break apart the caravan and attacked these immigrants. I hope this painting brings light to the xenophobia that is still at play in our country and hopefully the stories and voices of the people attacked will be remembered.

What led you to this?

Since I was a child, I loved comic books. Comics show the viewer the big picture, the whole story. That is what I attempt to do with my paintings—show the viewer the bigger picture—show the viewer who these individuals really are. Things have changed so much, and it’s very exciting to see how the LGBTQIA+ community has grown and expanded. That being said, bisexual erasure is still very present in our culture, and hopefully my exhibit will show people that these individuals are not invisible.

What’s your motivation for this work? Why is it important to you?

It’s important to me to tell the stories of people who haven’t had the opportunity to have their stories told.

What advice would you offer someone who wants to pursue a creative career? Is there anything you wish you knew before you began this work?

Do it! Take a risk and don’t play it safe. Do things that feel true to who you are. Be a conduit for your and others’ experiences, and be bold!

What advice would you offer someone who wants to be more involved with the local art community?

Get involved in co-op galleries. This will help you network and get your name out into the community. When I started out in the art scene in Denver, I became a part of a co-op and that gave me the exposure I needed to be where I am today.

In what ways have you seen the power and importance of art and creativity exhibited while the museum was closed or since it’s re-opened?

Like many others during COVID-19, I didn’t do much. I just walked around the park. Now that everything is back and the Martin Building is open there are so many exciting things for people to see!

On the 7th floor in the Western American Art gallery, there is a sculpture of a panther with its cubs and it looks like it is cornered. The panther is protecting its babies. I hope that visitors make the connection about how this sculpture relates to the Indigenous experience in this country, how the Indigenous peoples have felt all these years.

The museum has done such a fantastic job centering Indigenous voices and actually telling their stories from their perspective as opposed to a Eurocentric point of view.

Other than the DAM, where do you recommend people go to either participate in an artistic effort or see and support others’ work?

There are so many galleries in Denver; 40 West, Pirate, Kanon, Core, Next, etc.

Where can people find you and your work (website/social media/on display)?

@azcarate.sandra on Instagram.

Sandra’s work is currently on view at the Center on Colfax and at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.