Art by Aesop Rock and More Famed Hip-Hop Artists Comes to Bitfactory

Dan Drossman has been making art since he was five years old. Over decades of dedicated practice, his style has developed into cartoon-esque, multimedia street art, often inspired by rap and hip-hop.

“When I try to get into [painting], I always play music,” Drossman says, “and if I find a song that I really like, I’ll put it on repeat.”

That’s exactly what he did one day last year, listening to Homeboy Sandman’s “Calm Tornado” over and over again while he was painting. “While I was making [the painting], I was like, ‘[“Calm Tornado”] is a great title for this artwork,'” Drossman recalls. He reached out to Sandman, asking if he could name his art after the song that inspired it.

Sandman instantly clicked with Drossman’s art. “I was like, ‘Wow, this stuff is fly,’ so we just began to chop it up from there,” says the New York rapper.

In March 2022, Sandman came to Denver for a show and invited Drossman, who moved here from New York in 2017, to meet up in person. That’s when Drossman hit Sandman with an idea that he’d had percolating for several years: to create an event that showcases different mediums of art created by rappers, both visual and musical.

“Music and hip-hop have been very intertwined with my art,” Drossman explains. “And in listening, it’s important to have the right rap rhythm. … I was just thinking about how there’s no real separation when people say, ‘I’m not an artist, but I’m a musician,’ or, ‘I’m not a visual artist, but I’m a musician.’ They all kind of blurred to me.”

As Drossman and Sandman began to formulate the show, Sandman’s web of connections in the rap and hip-hop world was key to finding artists. “I think at first it was just luck for me to know them, but now they’re just popping up out of the woodwork,” Sandman says.

He began reaching out to other rappers, including the famed Aesop Rock, Kid Acne and Deca, inviting them to showcase their different mediums at the same event. He was able to get those artists on board, along with Isaac Sawyer and Quelle Chris, but Sandman says he won’t be contributing any visual art: “I’m not going to bring a knife to a gunfight,” he says.

“Art is very important to me,” he clarifies. “It’s definitely part of what’s very important about how I release the records. The cover art, the art associated with the singles. … The aesthetic and the frequency being broadcast through the art for the records can make all the difference.”

The culmination of Drossman and Sandman’s efforts is Visible Planets: Renowned Rappers and Their Visual Art. The exhibit runs through August 10 at Bitfactory Gallery, where there will be a free meet-and-greet reception with the artists on Friday, August 4, from 6 to 9 p.m. That will be followed by a special concert at Herman’s Hideaway on Saturday, August 5, starting at 8 p.m. Both events are sponsored by Abstract, Artist Proof Collective, KGNU and Ashley Garrett.

“We wanted [a name] that was going to encompass the fact that these artists are all very unique and one of a kind. They are their own world unto themselves,” Sandman explains, adding that Visible Planets also calls to mind the invisible, or lesser known, work of the showcased rappers. “It’s also a nod to Digable Planets, which was a hip-hop group that made a fantastic contribution to hip-hop at the time,” he says.

Visual art, especially street art, has been intrinsically tied to hip-hop since the genre’s conception in the ’70s, consistently appearing as the backdrop for music videos, cyphers and rap battles. Like street art, hip-hop is about empowering marginalized groups, giving them a creative and public platform to express societal dissent and sociopolitical views.

“All the cats I grew up with did graffiti and tried multiple things — made beats, rhymed, tried their hands at turntables,” says Deca, a rapper and artist who grew up in Denver. “I think that’s a great point, the fact that graffiti is an integral component of hip-hop.”

Deca has been drawing and rapping since he was young. In middle school he would freestyle in his backyard with friends, and he joined a hip-hop group called Elemental in high school. In 2004, when he was eighteen, Deca dropped his first solo album, Top of the Line Bottom Feeder. As for visual art, “my older brother painted, so I grew up watching him paint,” he recalls. “I draw comics, I got into graffiti, and that was huge for me throughout middle school and high school.” He remembers sitting in class, so absorbed in doodling on the margins of his notebook paper that he would tune out his teachers.

In 2010, he moved to New York, where he’s exhibited his visual art in a handful of small exhibitions. But one of Deca’s largest shows was in January 2023 here in the Mile High City, where his work was displayed alongside Drossman’s for Bitfactory’sseventh annual No Show exhibit.

Two new pieces by Deca will be displayed at Visible Planets. One is a splash of black ink that he says he made as “sporadic but unified” as he could, while the other is created from paint splatters on a wood panel. “I never want to make detailed pieces,” he explains. “I’m just going to do something, simplify it. And then it always ends up taking me like two months to finish them. This was no exception.”

His artwork is heavily inspired by his experiences in nature; he loves exploring the woods and examining the abundance of intricate patterns that surround him. “I’ve been going camping a lot recently, and I love just bugging out and staring at tree bark…and patterns insects make in the wood and those kind of things,” he says.

To Deca, his visual art and music are combined. Although his relationship with music creation is a more serious commitment than his fling with art, he emphasizes that both mediums are important expressions of his lived experience. “His music is meditative; it brings you in, and there’s a good rhythm to it. And then to see his work, it’s just the same thing…but visual,” Drossman says. “Getting to know him as a person, seeing his art, listening to his music — it’s all just flowing creatively.”

Sandman and Drossman are flying in six other artists for the event. The exhibit at Bitfactory will display art from Deca, Aesop Rock, Isaac Sawyer, Quelle Chris and Kid Acne, while the concert at Herman’s will include performances from Blu, Sandman, Deca, Quelle Chris, Kid Acne and Isaac Sawyer, as well as DJs Felix Fast4ward and Spectacular Diagnostics.

“This show is going to be a surefire thing, as far as a rap show. We ain’t got to worry about nothing,” Sandman says. “Even if the power cuts out, these cats are the real deal. We’ll go a cappella all night.”

Deca, Sandman and Drossman might be looking forward to different parts of Visible Planets, from meeting other rappers to socializing with Denverites, but all three can agree that the event is a one-of-a-kind experience. “As far as I know, it’s never been done — an art show of all rappers,” Deca says.

“The energy that these [performers] transmit is beneficial to the listener…and Dan has provided a new platform,” Sandman adds. “This is going to be the first area in the world where these special, unique, glowing individuals are going to transmit…on another medium besides the one that they generally do.”

Visible Planets free artist reception, 6 p.m. Friday, August 4, Bitfactory Gallery, 851 Santa Fe Drive. Visible Planets concert, 8 p.m. Saturday, August 5, Herman’s Hideaway, 1578 South Broadway. Tickets are $35-$500.

Sign up to receive the best Underground art & real estate news in your inbox everyday.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

This post was originally published on this site be sure to check out more of their content.