Salida goes surreal

The first “Salida goes Surreal” celebration this December will challenge people to think beyond logic and reason and go into another realm of possibility. From left are the event’s organizers Ken Brandon, Sue Ann Hum, Jennifer Dempsey and her son, Henry Dempsey. 


Surreal times call for surreal art. With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting many people’s normal way of life, Salida is going surreal. The first Salida Goes Surreal celebration is scheduled for December and is intended to challenge people’s perceptions. 

Jennifer Dempsey, one of the event’s organizers, said a simple definition of surrealism is “any idea or creation that’s not based in logic or reason.”

She said the surrealistic movement began after the devastation of World War I. “It’s a way of dealing and rebelling against logic and reason and going into another worldly realm of possibility,” Dempsey said. 

Ken Brandon, who’s also organizing the event with Dempsey and Sue Ann Hum, said the idea for the surreal celebration began in a drawing class at Box of Bubbles when Dr. Amy Dempsey’s book Surrealism came up. Within 15 minutes, he said, they decided Salida should do something surreal. 

At the moment, the Paquette Gallery is booked for December and will display local surreal art pieces. 

Workshops, a surrealistic soiree and dance, theater, performance art, a fashion show and films at various Salida venues are all tentatively planned. 

The events, however, probably won’t be finalized until closer to December. “Because of the ongoing unknowns of COVID-19 restrictions, the plans are remaining fluid,” Hum said. “We’ll see what’s possible and respond surrealistically.”

The event will be capped at 15 so people interested in attending are encouraged to email People don’t need to be a fine art artist to participate either; the events will be open to everyone and anyone. 

Brandon said if more people want to attend any of the events than the cap, they’ll do a second one or find another way to accommodate everyone. 

“People probably don’t realize how surreal they actually are,” Dempsey said. 

Hum added that established artists could benefit from the event by using some of the principals of surrealism to re-imagine their work. Some techniques of surrealistic art include dislocation, juxtaposition, levitation, transformation, scale, symbols and double images. 

Shocks and surprises are key, and Dempsey called it “art that puzzles.”

The event is being spearheaded by Box of Bubbles and Colorado TINTS, which stands for theatre in non-traditional spaces. 

While the celebration itself isn’t scheduled until December, Salida residents are invited to attend workshops beginning now in August at the Salida Rotary Scout Hut and learn more about the history of surrealism and get ideas for creating surrealistic art.  

For the art show, a call for participation will be announced in September. The month-long celebration will then take place in December.

“It will be a Christmas like no other,” Brandon said.

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