After the demise of Edifice Gallery in 2008 and co-founder Richard Arnot's move to California earlier this year, Nocturnal Mockery seemed destined to fizzle. Arnot and partner Jason Herzog told the Indy back in April that they wanted to keep their underground art fest going, but only after a hiatus; in the meantime, Arnot was thinking of creating something similar in his new home.
"I want to give it a little bit of a break," Arnot said then, "because, I think, the edge is kind of lost."
Just months later, Arnot and Herzog have banked upon a few tweaks bringing it back. The ninth Noc Moc, now an annual event (versus biannual), opens this weekend inside the Fillmore Crossing Building/Cedars Jazz Club.
Speaking from his home outside Santa Cruz, Arnot says: "The biggest thing behind this show is just bringing everything up to date, refining the process to make it more efficient and with more professional direction."
The pair, perhaps a little too self-deprecating considering Noc Moc's past successes, are planning better self-representation with an Edifice Gallery booth. (Edifice remains an online brand and enterprise.)
Another change for this year's installment: Arnot and Herzog put out an open call to artists instead of inviting their already-large list of contacts. Though Noc Moc still hangs at about 60 participants, 25 new artists are on the docket. And while it'll remain affordable, says Arnot, "the artwork across the board is just getting a lot more mature."
One standout example is Rafa Jenn, who once had a solo exhibit at Edifice's downtown space. Jenn is a multi-faceted designer and artist whose recent works in silkscreen prints and mixed media jive with Noc Moc's slick urban appeal.
The 34-year-old Denverite recently finished a project titled, "One Million Pixels," a print series of CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black, respectively) squares that do not make an image, but together in a 1,000-by-1,000-pixel square comprise a visual image of 1 million.
"That's more of a mass piece," says Jenn. "It's really more about, what does 1 million look like. Until I did this, I never really had anything in my mind that represents what 1 million is because, really after a hundred or a thousand, it starts becoming kind of an abstract, nebulous image."
Jenn is equally intrigued by a CMYK palette, a longstanding fascination for artists and designers: "We're all kind of in love with CMYK," he says, "because everything we make is based on those four colors." Jenn's birds (above) share the color scheme.
Fragmentation acts as another motif in Jenn's current oeuvre. Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" and Andy Warhol's "Marilyn" break down into puzzle-like prints, blurred by the shapes within but still recognizable.
"I'm really limiting the color scheme and I'm relying on the embedded images that are already in most people's minds," says Jenn. "It's really a phenomenon that I'm trying to play off of; the phenomenon of maybe what you could call a collective subconscious."
He adds that the brain seeks patterns and can be rewarded by doing puzzles: "You build kind of a personal relationship to the piece because of that. It's like, you solve it and it makes you feel good."
As does seeing Noc Moc come back from the deceptively deadly term "hiatus."