JANUARY 23 - MAY 1, 2008

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» View the Last Place photo album

Phil Bender, Last Place, Juicers, The Lab, BelmarPhil Bender collects everyday objects- worn snow shovels, used matchbooks, backgammon game boards– and arranges them in massive geometric grids, suggesting both nostalgia and scientific classification. Discarded, obscure, or otherwise disregarded, Bender’s objects convey a sense of archeology, recovering evidence of life in the recent past.

For the exhibition Last Place, Bender gathered things from thrift stores, garage sales, and side streets, documenting the character of the West by cataloguing its cast-offs. The result is both familiar and distant. Culling together collections of matching tools, games, implements, souvenirs and other decorative and functional things, Bender identifies patterns of behavior and usage in the home, workplace and outdoors. Because all of the objects are outdated and no longer function in the mainstream of modern life, they convey a sense of nostalgia for a former way of life.

Paired with Mary Lucier’s Plains of Sweet Regret, Bender offers an alternative means of documenting cultural loss, recording evidence of the recent past through the multiplicity of artifacts that pass through a civilization. The exhibition is a glimpse into the collective attic of the American West.

Phil Bender, Last Place, Matchbooks, The Lab, BelmarPhil Bender was born in St. Louis in 1947 and his family moved to Dallas the next year. In the mid-seventies Phil and his first wife moved to Denver, where he graduated from the Metropolitan State College and the University of Colorado. In 1980, he and seven like-minded Colorado artists founded Pirate: A Contemporary Art Oasis, one of the first cooperative galleries in the region. Phil has exhibited nationally, including a 1996 solo exhibition in the Close Range Gallery of the Denver Art Museum. In the catalogue for that exhibition, Bender says he wants to pull off what he calls the artist’s ultimate scam: “I’d like to make a living doing what I love to do. I dream of having the freedom to play all the time.”