Boulder-based artist Rick Dallago has pursued many creative paths. From crafting life-like paintings that can best be described as edgy Rockwellian to spending years living in Los Angeles working as a producer on notable film sets, his endeavors have been vast.
The New York-born artist’s quirky essence can be found in “Rick Dallago: Paintings, Photographs, Perspectives” — an eclectic and humorous scrapbook of a show at the Museum of Boulder that highlights his personal journeys, pays homage to, and pokes fun of, pop culture and also manages to conjure deep pondering.
“It feels amazing,” said Dallago, reflecting on his recent show that opened this week. “This is my first solo exhibit and it’s in a museum. I’m grateful to Museum of Boulder for supporting local artists.”
While Dallago has only been in Colorado a few years, he has already become a fixture of the creative community, navigating ways to best feature his personal work and the work of others.
“My motive for creating events and platforms for other artists is to showcase my own art,” Dallago said. “There are so few opportunities for the 5,000-plus Boulder artists that I have to create my own. As a film producer, I’m used to creating something from nothing. Bringing artists together helps other artists.”
From spearheading the WinterFest public sculpture garden project at Chautauqua — which consisted of area creatives transforming 15 fiberglass bears into works of art — to organizing last fall’s Avalon Drive-Thru Art Event, where visitors could peruse booths by car, Dallago continues to come up with innovative solutions to showcasing art in a COVID world.
“This year, the Avalon Drive-Thru will return as a monthly event with 60 artists, dancers, musicians and other surprises,” Dallago said. “I’m discussing an art fair at Colorado Chautauqua this summer.”
For now, visitors can take in the diverse work of Dallago at Museum of Boulder’s exhibit that includes around 20 paintings, many of which are new. They will also get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of his lights-camera-action days.
“I did create a special collage of all my film work, from ‘Father of the Bride’ to ‘Blue Crush,’” Dallago said. “The other collages were created during the lockdown. The process is organic. I’m not sure where it’s going until I build it. My paintings are opposite. They are planned in advance, where my collages are freewheeling.”
From painting a nude, grinning Obama that was purchased by collectors in Denver to making fun of many an oblivious selfie-stick photog in his work, Dallago isn’t afraid to shock or bewilder onlookers.
“The exhibit is about my perspectives,” Dallago said. “My work is satirical. I’m holding a mirror up to society and hoping for a reaction — either outrage or laughter or both. I don’t over-explain my work. I love hearing alternate interpretations.”
And, opposing takeaways often surface.
“Last year, I did a painting of the Brady Bunch behind barbed wire,” Dallago said. “Half the people on Pearl Street thought the Bradys were on the outside, while my intent was the opposite. I love the ambiguity. I hope people will be entertained — maybe laugh, maybe be challenged.”
In keeping with his cinematic background, a looped audio-visual feature will also be a part of the exhibit that runs through April 5.
“Included will be a four-minute video presentation of a film project called ‘Gay Bar’ — a true story of Helen Branson, a single mom who opened a gay bar in 1952,” Dallago said. “This video is actually being used as a pitch to movie studios and actors. It’s been submitted to HBO and Sundance.”
While a date has not been set, Dallago plans to speak more about the film project that spotlights the societal hardships of being gay in the 1950s and the birth of the Mattachine Society and Gay Rights Movement.
While some of his work evokes chuckles, others make viewers stop and reflect.
One of Dallago’s collages, “Homeless in Boulder,” is composed of actual cardboard signs he collected from area panhandlers during 2020.
“I noticed most drivers look away from the homeless,” Dallago said. “This is your chance to read their signs without looking away.”
On Feb. 18, Dallago will give an artist talk from 5 to 8 p.m. Livestream painting demonstrations will also be a part of this exhibit’s programming. The Museum of Boulder, located at 2205 Broadway, is accepting a limited number of masked guests each day of the week — except for Tuesday — from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We want to serve as a community resource and Dallago’s show is eclectic, eccentric and very thought-provoking,” said Lori Preston, Museum of Boulder’s executive director. “The diverse subjects in his work will make people laugh, gasp and some might even become agitated.”
On Wednesdays, the museum offers extended hours until 8 p.m. Tickets for admission are $8 for college students, seniors and those ages 2 to 18 and $10 for adults.
“We know this show is out there and we think Dallago’s timing in the museum — as we open up to offer limited-size events right now — is perfect,” Preston said. “People need reprieve and engagement. One cannot help but respond when they see his very first solo art installation ever. We are so proud of him and cannot wait to hear more of his stories tied to the giant variety of work, through upcoming special limited-size events at the museum.”