Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax

{enter gallery above}

Transformational art cuts its teeth on the pinpoints of precision. Afterall, striving toward your often-undefined center is a quest to synthesize all experience, all learned paradigms and skill sets. For Denver artist Chris Huth, the drive to create work hinges in these places; and on the finicky doors of perception and ambition.

Chris Huth’s art is beautiful. It’s devastating. It’s dirty and dark like he is. His work is raw and understated comic book art merging with graffiti and traditional forms of visual art. And while tags aren’t going to further an articulation – Huth is strung somewhere in the best of places: between low and high brow art; between street art and classical painting. But Huth is also strung between Colfax and a bed that barely works. He is strung between his last Schlitz and the next breakfast burrito. On the best of days Huth’s work is indicative of the urban contemporary movement that seems to be blossoming here in Denver and abroad. On the worst of days? Huth’s work is only more madness that doesn’t involve a dark bar, or a linoleum bathroom and flickering lights.

Whichever way, Huth won’t laud his work on these premises. Not within these terms. No, for Chris Huth, even as dirty as things are, his artwork is about working and striving; it is about being an artist. “I make this stuff because while I am doing it my brain shuts the fuck up,” he said. “Otherwise it’s a constant buzz of unconscious thought and theoretical rambling that makes it impossible to think clearly or sleep soundly. I do it because I have to because I don’t have anything else. I am mostly inept at just about everything art is the only thing I have ever had any kind of aptitude for.”

And if his previous work has a voice, it would speak to this idea: Chris Huth has won a style and look that – while it plays with other artists’ words in the same way that we all use the same lexicon – is truly his own story, his own novel. As dark as it may be.

Still, in Denver, his name is known. He has shown with big names like Jeff Soto and Evan Hecox. DC Gallery picked him up quickly after they opened. Couple that with his professional endeavors of traditional print and postermaking at Indyink with his involvement in the Denver scene – and the bottom line is that Chris Huth’s name holds water in the dry Queen City of the Plains.

But none of this has gone to his head. In talking about artists in-general and their tendency to become wholly self-involved, Huth agreed with that common perception. But, while you may have to be a little bit of an egoist to become successful, “I most definitely am not,” Huth responded. “My view on life is so skewed its like viewing every scenario under a microscope.”

Huth employs many disciplines in his work. His pieces are illustrative. But they are not stodgy with interpretation. For Huth his pieces find their character in the predictable flaws. He is not concerned with drawing the perfect nose. And so it is here where the terms blossom into full meaning, and for Huth, this is where low brow art surpasses high brow art.

Huth’s painting aren’t obscure in meaning or tough where they should be meaty. No, Huth’s work is predicated on conveying messages to the broadest of audiences. So, you shouldn’t need a translator or decoder ring when viewing his work.

In talking about his work, Huth said, “I am always searching for the little nuances that could make the difference between something being unique or something being just plain old wrong. Its almost obsessive-compulsive. It’s a habit that haunts me in every aspect of everyday. It comes across as craftsmanship but I go through every painting and every drawing with the same fine-toothed comb of unsatisfactory.”

In part, Huth is not afraid of making mistakes. He relies on his strong background in design and illustration and a natural ability to simply draw the naked world around him. And this rides well, as it is an extension of an idea that lends character to a trade that he finds himself currently embedded within.

Still, despite his obvious talent and cultivated skill sets, Huth battles in his creative production. “My opinion of my own art swings subtly between utter hate and occasional short-term tolerance,” he said. “Self-inflicted hyperactive standards force me to create mounds of unacceptable work. A finished painting is never a clean knockout it’s a 30 round heavyweight bout that has to be called by the judges cause honestly it’s the painting that’s painting me most of the time.”

Making a living as an exhibiting artist is difficult, at best. Many artists are forced to supplement their income with jobs they dread; jobs that don’t employ their skill sets. For now, Chris Huth has found a way around this. Huth is currently working his way into a slightly new field, of creating posters. In this he is cultivating skill sets around the craft of traditional printmaking and silkscreen. Here he is using his fine art background and his street sense to create the voluptuous one-off posters that he sees in his head.

Huth says, “I toil through 80+ hour weeks stifled by the ins and outs of everyday drudgery. I get paid sporadically if at all maybe in a good month making $1000 working 3 different jobs. I haven’t had a day off, where I wasn’t doing something for someone else, since before Christmas. I haven’t been in a relationship or even been on a date in over a year.”

For Huth, the toil of this kind of life is not simple. It’s not neat. “I envy some kind of stability that other people manage to obtain, he says “It’s funny because I am surrounded by giant man-children: bar tenders, tattoo artist, musicians, hairstylists whose number one concern is ‘what the fuck did I drink last night’.” Huth reinforced the dark walls that he sometimes inhabits. In talking about his world, he comented that his life is “like a pathetic 30-Something episode being filmed in Never Never Land. But all the 9-5ers always say, ‘at least your creative’. Well I say to them, ‘at least you can fool yourself into subdued happiness’.”

Fortunate for Huth, there is a whole community of players in the urban contemporary scene that are entangled in this authentic drive to create one-off, idiosyncratic work. From tattoo shops, to clothing and shoe stores around Denver – many have banded together to form an intricate network of artisans and artists. In this there is a tremendous support system. Because where gallery owners have been reluctant to show this art of the streets, these small business owners have provided a great and invaluable place for these tremendous artists to, more than show their work, network and create something as big and in the world, as their art really is.

For Chris Huth, lowbrow art – any art – is about the act of doing what you love to do. Evidenced by his ambitious strides to make his work the central focus of his life, professionally and personally, it seems that Huth is on the right path. Always searching for that center and that balance without pretension, we can be sure to find Chris Huth’s hand on posters lining concert halls and tee-shirts around town, and beyond.

Stay in touch with Huth and his upcoming work, here: www.huthmarks.com.