Clyfford Still Museum Opens

Last night my partner and I went to the opening of the Clyfford Still Museum here in Denver.  WOW!  It is amazing!

The inaugural exhibit it thoughtfully curated – offering a chronological view of his work spanning his career. I think, for me what struck me the most was seeing the evolution of the work. The show clearly presents a progression beginning with landscapes and portraits, quickly leading us into his exploration of abstraction and ultimately his readily identifiable expressionist pieces.

I was anticipating the darker, heavier pieces that represented his agrarian roots during the depression but didn’t anticipate the lighter, more cheerful works. These treasures, hidden for so many years, are a bit like giants awaking from their slumber – still stretching out and beginning to tell their stories.

The rooms are perfectly proportioned and sequenced to showcase his art with carefully constructed vantage points revealing from one gallery, the next.  The honeycomb ceiling allows natural light to permeate the concrete building, providing ideal viewing conditions while louvers protect the artwork from the damaging sun.  The two-story building, designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture is refined – it is an elegant solution to display the work and to house art being stored, archived & researched.


Clyfford Still’s work was marked by expressive brush work, and abstracted forms – the blending of color, texture and shape to create something entirely new. His shift away from figurative and surrealist styles in the late 30’s and early 40’s happened nearly a decade before other artists including Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman began the pursuit of what is now known as Abstract Expressionism. His estate, along with that of his wife, has been left to the city and will be maintained by the museum – it represents the bulk(94%) of Still’s life work – some 2400 paintings, works on paper and sculptures.

At the Clyfford Still Opening

At the Clyfford Still Opening

My Picks for Portland

This past week, I had a great trip to Portland, OR. It was only my second time visiting the City of Roses, but I have to say that I really like it.  It has a cool urban vibe and offers city living in a truly gorgeous setting alongside the Willamette River with the mountains in the distance. There is definitely a coffee culture – and that is fine by me; I tried several, with my favorites being Barista in the Pearl District and also NW Coffee over in Goose Hollow. The food was great –  beginning with a delicious pastrami sandwich at Kenny & Zuke’s and ending with northern Italian at Nel Centro (oh, and a stop by St. Cupcake…yum!)

The city has a convenient free shuttle that runs in the heart of the city. I typically like to get a sense of a place by going through it block by block so, as is normal for me, I walked and walked and walked – into different neighborhoods, up into Washington Park (overlooking the city) and through the downtown districts.

Portland has an growing artist community and a number of galleries that devote themselves to promoting local and regional artists and a few that showcase national and international talents. At the Portland Art Museum, I enjoyed revisiting the contemporary collections. They had a really beautifully curated exhibit on Japanese prints – it led visitors through 3 centuries of printmaking and placed the art trends in the context of societal evolution.

As for the galleries, I visited about 15 and found them to run the gamut from co-ops to commercial – some conceptual, some great and others, not so much.  I generally find the gallerists to be very friendly and approachable, willing to talk about the artists, the shows and the galleries.   Below I list my favorites:

    • Lee Kelly @ Elizabeth Leach
    • Jim Riswold @ Augen Gallery
    • Roll Hardy @ Laura Russo Gallery
    • Fritz Liedtke @Blue Sky
    • Ellen George @ PDX
    • Jack Davidson @ Pulliam
    • James Boulton @ Pulliam

Jim Riswold – Don’t Shoot We’re Camels

    James-Boulton – Orionid #1

    Lee Kelly @ Elizabeth Leach