Jonathan Saiz: Blue Chipped

Through December 24, 2017 from 10am to 6pm At the Understudy Incubator: 890 C 14th St, Denver, CO 80202

(Next to the Theater District RTD Light Rail Station on 14th St in Downtown Denver)

saiz2Artist Jonathan Saiz paints inside the Blue Chipped kiosk - photo by Ken Hamel/

The Blue Chipped public art installation at Understudy is a direct-to-public kiosk operated by artist Jonathan Saiz where hundreds of tiny, original oil paintings are displayed for inexpensive sale.

The subject matter of the miniature paintings is whimsically random, from portraits of celebrities, micro-reproductions of famous artworks, words, shapes and even abstract brushwork; the only thing they all have in common is the color blue.

Blue Chipped is a response to the expensive, investment-oriented Blue Chip art market, which uses the emotional concepts of rarity, VIP treatment, exclusivity and celebrity to transform physical artworks, big and small, into billions of dollars, often stripping the artwork itself of its intimate emotional energy.

The $20 price for each painting is not paid in a normal transactional exchange. The buyers may visit Understudy and take the painting with them, leaving only their handwritten email address. At a later date, the artist will send an email with easy payment options, including PayPal, Venmo or the option to mail a $20 bill in a birthday card signed "happy birthday, love grandma." Thus, the "value" of the works is measured in the expression of trust between the artist and the unseen buyers.

With Saiz's Blue Chip installation, the question is not whether the art holds any inherent physical value but if the trust-based transaction activates the artwork with more emotional energy based on the buyer's choice to pay, to conveniently forget or to willfully steal.

Understudy is a first-of-its-kind arts and culture experimental space where artists and creative groups can create and share art in a 700-square-foot free space.