After three go-rounds in New York, Montgomery Knott, filmmaker, musician and Colorado native, picked Denver's up-and-coming RiNo neighborhood to debut his visual, aural and edible art experience, Monkey Town 4
. Premiering for the first time outside its Big Apple birthplace, the unique art installation immerses the audience in stimulating video cinema and live performances, with food and wine pairings created exclusively for the event by renowned Denver chefs.
Greeted with champagne, guests are soon ushered into a multimedia cube, with 24-foot video screens for walls and seating for 32 people around the perimeter at intimate tables. Throughout the course of the two-hour experience, participants enjoy a visual spectacle that is a collaboration between 18 artists -- half of which are from Denver -- and a nightly live performance.
Monkey Town 4
artists were carefully chosen from Knott's network of video and motion-graphic colleagues, as well from local galleries such as Plus Gallery in Denver. Not your typical cinema experience, guests engage with their food and each other, as well as social media, throughout the course of the evening.
"The trifecta of stagecraft"Throughout the course of the two-hour experience, participants enjoy a visual spectacle that is a collaboration between 18 artists.
Inspired by Gordon Matta-Clark's Food
, a restaurant-meets-installation run by artists in SoHo in the early 1970s, Knott set out to create his own art experience combining experimental food and performance.
"I've purposely curated the program and the experience for a general audience," explains Knott. "I'm not interested in just preaching to the choir. And, in many ways, that's been the most gratifying. When you have a diverse audience engaging and accepting such wide-ranging material, I think that's the trifecta of stagecraft."
Knott unveiled the original Monkey Town in 2003 in a private Brooklyn loft. "While I was on a flight to San Francisco, the idea for a cube with multi-channel video came up," recalls Knott. "I literally drew it on a cocktail napkin."
Since its inception, Monkey Town has now spawned three subsequent original art installations showcasing dozens of emerging, talented filmmakers and performers inside the original cube concept. Last summer, the huge success of Monkey Town 3, held at the Eyebeam Gallery in Manhattan, set the stage for the concept's first foray outside of New York.
At Monkey Town 4, guests dine on several courses of culinary creations from local Denver chefs Andrew Van Stee and Chris MacGillivary of Noble Swine Supper Club
, Jonathan Power of The Populist
and Dan Landes of Watercourse Foods
. Dishes are prepared from organic, locally-sourced ingredients and the offerings change each month.
"We've had regular tastings as new menu items come on the menu and we consult with two sommeliers as well," notes Knott of the menu creation process. "Andrew and Chris have been working together for over five years and they have a very intuitive and creative approach towards creating the dishes. And, I love that their plating isn't precious or fussy, while their flavors are sophisticated and well-balanced."
Moving parts galoreDenver videophiles will have the chance to experience Monkey Town 4 through June 1, in the RiNo Art District's Exdo Hall.
Running a nightly show with so many moving parts has been no easy task. "To run a restaurant is hard enough, but to be able to assure that the tech is running well, while the delivery and timing of the food makes sense, adds another layer of complexity," explains Knott. "But, it's been amazing working with the chefs from Noble Swine. The kitchen is very relaxed while executing at the highest level."
Knott has found Denver to be extremely responsive and welcoming to the unique pop-up concept. "From what I've experienced, the Denver art scene is in an ascendant moment and there is a rich, supportive community of artists and audience," says Knott. "It seems like there's a great opportunity for further funding to support the scene, but the infrastructure is strong and the quality of work is impressive."
Denver videophiles will have the chance to experience Monkey Town 4 through June 1, in the RiNo Art District's Exdo Hall (3545 Larimer St.). Guests can choose between seatings at 6 and 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday through Sunday nights.