"Check out" art at MCA Denver through the new Octopus Initiative

It's got a funky name - the Octopus Initiative - but it's not something out of a spy movie: instead, it's an initiative meant to help local artists stay in the Mile High City and putting art in the hands of many.

Make sure you have some free time if you plan on asking Adam Lerner about art.

“He portrays this sense of modernism, this sense of architecture. It’s like this brutalist architectural structure.”

That’s just a snippet of what the Mark G. Falcone Director and Chief Animator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver observed in a piece by Denver artist Derrick Velasquez.

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“He creates these little decorative elements that are etched in that…” he goes on.

And on. And on about a handful of local artists.

These works are part of a new project for MCA Denver.

“The Octopus Initiative,” Adam explains. “It’s about putting art in the hands of many.”

The museum commissions work from local artists. The works are then displayed at MCA Denver where people can take them home. For free.

If a Denver metro resident sees a piece of art in the Octopus Initiative that they need to have in their living room; they simply put their name in a lottery. If chosen they can take it home for up to ten months.

The museum will display about 100 works at a time. They’ll show five hundred pieces over the three-year pilot initiative. People can browse the art and enter the lottery at MCA Denver or at their website.

Getting art into Denver homes is just one way Adam hopes this project will help Denver’s art scene.

I’ve seen the art community really suffer from a lot of the positive changes in our community because of our growth,” Adam said.

The artists are paid for each of the 25 works they make for the initiative. They are also given a stipend for studio space and materials for a year.

Adam said he hopes the project gets art out of the museum while keeping artists in the Mile High City.

“Our artists are valuable contributors to making this city interesting,” he said. “You can support them simply by having their work in your house.”

The Octopus Initiative display and website launch March 15.