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July Jubilee features psychedelic art of Sage Helperman

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Local artist Sage Helperman was never into painting.

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Instead of a paint brush, his tools of choice are the colored pencil, the store-bought pen and the colored marker. He said he prefers to use these over traditional media because he likes the precision, as well as having the added benefit of being cheaper.

The Art Lab in downtown Fort Collins began its exhibition of Helperman’s artwork and music Friday, named the July Jubilee as a reference to the Grateful Dead song “Sugaree.” The exhibition was featured in the First Friday Art Walk alongside the city’s other galleries.

Helperman said he knew he wanted to be an artist since he was just 10 years old. He spent his childhood and teen years exploring the arts, including writing, cartooning and playing music. After a decade of creating thousands of pieces of artwork, he finally realized his dream of having an exhibition dedicated entirely to him.

“Usually if I have a music or art event, I have to share it with other people,” Helperman said. “This is the first time that is not the case.”

His artwork is described as “abstract, eclectic and sometimes visionary” on the Art Lab website. Helperman chose more than 60 pieces to show during the July Jubilee that best represented his cartoonish and psychedelic style.

“The word psychedelic is not about drugs,” Helperman said. “It can mean just any sort of different mindspace. Even when I try not to be eclectic, it just kind of ends up that way.”

Helperman said his artwork is influenced by artists such as Salvador Dali, M.C. Escher and Alexander Grey. Without the artwork of Dali, he said he would not be making art at all.

Alongside his drawings, Helperman played multiple sets of improvised music on the electric guitar, ukulele and iPad each day. Helperman experimented with electronic styles of music to create improvised sounds and beats while gallery-goers explored his exhibition.

“I didn’t like it much at first, but I really dig it now,” Helperman said about his desire to create electronic music. “I feel like now I have a feel for it, and I feel like now I am actually better at electronic music than I am at guitar. But that could change.”

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Helperman said each piece of artwork he creates is like a diary entry. His artistic process consists of doodling, improvising and daydreaming until he feels that the piece is finished.

After the exhibit is finished, he plans to return to another passion of his. In his free time, Helperman writes scripts for a TV series he hopes will one day be put on the air. He says he is primarily a cartoonist, but has not done much in the way of creating cartoons recently.

“The July Jubilee gives me the room to get my art and music out there every day,” Helperman said.

The July Jubilee will continue from noon-5 p.m. until July 11 in the Art Lab on Linden Street.

Collegian Reporter Erik Petrovich can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @EAPetrovich.

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