MID Archives: Art and Devon Dikeou

Celebrating our Decade of Design

Immersed: Devon Dikeou

Art permeates every facet of artist, collector and publisher Devon Dikeou’s Life and you are invited in. Modern In Denver brought the home of Dikeou to our readers in our spring 2014 issue. Her residence at One Cheesman Place resembles a museum with works from Andy Warhol, Arne Jacobsen, and Mark Sink. Scroll through to read about her artwork and home, and to see the amazing photographs.

Modern In Denver cover, Spring 204
Devon’s stylish, eclectic taste is on display in her sunny home overlooking Cheesman Park, which is filled with a collection of artwork that she has been given, traded for or purchased at benefit auctions. Some of the vintage furnishings are family heirlooms, including the pea-green and ochre sofa and chair set, which belonged to her grandmother (designed by Paul Lazlo or John Keal for mid-century furniture manufacturer Brown-Saltman). The 1930s Art-Deco side tables were purchased by Devon’s mother from James Powell Antiques in Austin, Texas. A Verner Panton Fun Lamp (Design Within Reach) completes the ensemble. Other vintage lamps were locally sourced at Mod Livin’.

Unless you have grown up in Denver, you may not recognize the name Devon Dikeou. Even then, you might not know that the third-generation native has indie-rock star status in the contemporary art world, or that she and her brother have a private collection of art’s brightest stars in a downtown Denver office building, which is free and open to the public. What’s more, in addition to collecting art, Devon is a prolific artist, curator, and founder, editor and publisher of zingmagazine. Her ground-zero position at the source of art provides her with a panoramic view and places her squarely at the confluence of creativity.

Museum curator, Heather Pesanti from The Contemporary Austin (where Devon exhibited her work “Please” last summer) acknowledges the clarity of her vision and says, “Devon has the ability to challenge and critique the workings of the art world and offer momentary glimpses behind the proverbial curtain, at times even slipping the art historical rug out from under us.”

Luckily for Denverites, Modern in Denver has been granted some sanctioned voyeurism into Devon’s own domestic and professional realms, which reveals the pure alliance between her art and life.

Devon’s local landing pad at One Cheesman Place, designed by acclaimed Denver modernist architect Charles Sink, is a visual manifestation of her eclectic taste and a physical representation of the relationships she has cultivated within the art world. Each artwork in her Denver apartment is one that has been given to her, traded for another artist’s work or bought at benefit auctions. Her divergent collection of art and furnishings include Andy Warhol prints, Pre- Columbian artifacts, mid-century Arne Jacobsen Ant Chairs and an 18th century English sideboard. Many of the art pieces in Devon’s home have been incorporated into her piece titled “Not Quite Mrs. De Menil’s Liquor Closet”—an installation fashioned after famed art collector Dominique de Menil’s secreted liquor closet, which will be exhibited in the Dikeou Collection’s planned expansion this spring.

The 10,000 square-foot Dikeou Collection—a curated treasure trove of international contemporary art collected by Devon and her brother, Pany— occupies a raft of office suites within the Art-Deco style Colorado Building. Yet, for all its lively offerings to the public, including poetry readings and jazz series— along with its stunning array of both emerging and established artists, the collection has own under the radar of even some of Denver’s art cognoscenti. John Grant, a Denver-based art consultant and curator comments, “Devon has quietly put together one of the hidden gems in Denver’s contemporary art landscape. The Dikeou Collection offers those that take the time to visit, an opportunity to experience work by contemporary artists that, without the collection, would never find a place in Denver.”

The gallery’s serene atmosphere is interrupted by only the hum and rattle of the steam heat pushing through the pipes of the fifth floor 1891 building. As Devon describes her multifaceted engagement in the art world, a puckish smile and joyful glint in her eyes convey her passion for her artistic life. Her knowledge of art and its
players is encyclopedic, yet she is self-effacing and gracious, overflowing with an infectious Alice in Wonderland-like curiosity. The latter impression is magnified by artist Momoyo Torimitsu’s two giant blow-up bunnies, albeit deflated, whose limp rubber bodies lay prostrate across the gallery floor on either side of her. Devon will tell you that context has everything to do with the experience of art.

When she is not crisscrossing the country between domestic-bases that include Austin, New York and Denver—tending to her role as editor in chief of zingmagazine (the publication she started in 1995), teaching, curating or collecting— she is creating her own art.

Although a self-proclaimed non- studio artist, she creates physical works of art that fall into the lexicon of a conceptual or installation art, depending on the context in which they are shown. She says her artwork “is very much a self- portrait” and at the same time, a reflection of her existence in the art world as a viewer, collector, artist, curator and critic.

Devon’s most recent work titled “Pay What you Wish” will be installed in the Dikeou Collection and was shown at NADA Miami, an invitation-only independent art fair. The piece is a direct comment on the commercial nature of the fair and a simultaneous riff on the old-school donation boxes that nudge museum goers to contribute to the institution’s bottom line. She recreated 18 donation boxes from 16 different American museums and scattered them throughout the art fair. This multi-layered piece draws meaning from its context and is just one in a series of meditative juxtapositions that Devon has created.

In 2013, Devon displayed ten lobby directory boards from her regenerative series called “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” as part of a group show at the New Museum Of Contemporary Art that featured young artists who were making their mark on New York’s art scene in 1993. The identically sized, 18×24- inch directory boards have grown to 120 in number and 81 of them now line the entry gallery of the Dikeou Collection. This concept of repetition radiates through Devon’s artwork and also deeply influences how she approaches collecting, displaying and experiencing other artists’ work.

In making choices for the Dikeou Collection, Devon and her brother subscribe to a similar school of thought as that of artist Donald Judd, who advocated for permanent installation of artwork within a specific context to allow the viewer to discover the art over successive visits. The siblings use the rich, meaning-laden words “generosity, breadth, and longevity” to describe the intention of the Collection and to guide their selections. “Regardless of the medium,” says Devon, “each potential acquisition is evaluated for these qualities.”

To begin the dialogue, she often first invites artists, to publish their work in zingmagazine, which she created to “give artists a platform for their ideas and work.” The incipient relationships with artists are nurtured into enduring ones when she is sure that the medium and artist are represented fully and their work can be shown “in its truest form—even if that form itself might be challenging.” Devon adds that “once an artist is in the collection, we are dedicated to bringing their vision to fruition and helping to garner their voice in a public sphere.”

Sarah Goldblatt

David Lauer (Apartment images)

Crystal Allen (Collection images)