Telluride – January 2014

Last week my partner & I took a few days off to go explore Telluride and do some skiing.  It wound up being the perfect time to go because we were between weather systems –  there was snow on the ground, but the skies were sunny and the temperatures warm.

Telluride was settled with miners back in the mid-1800s and it still has much of it’s old town charm. While the mountain village overflows with tourists, I got the sense that the actual town itself is a community of locals. There are plenty of restaurants, shops and galleries to appeal to visitors and residents alike.

Of course, I took a few breaks from the slopes to check out the local art scene, a half-dozen galleries and a handful of studios.

The three that really caught my eye were

  1. Gallery 81435  I am still not sure who was manning the store – I went in twice and never did see anyone else there.  The show was beautifully minimal, with black and white sculpture, woodblock prints and photographs.  I fell in love with Antonio Marra’s sculpture and Meredith Nemirov’s drawing series of tree details.
  2. Oh-Be-Joyful Gallery  This gallery was a treat: the series of rooms were filled with landscape paintings from regional and national artists.
  3. Telluride Gallery of Fine Art  Probably the most commercial of the galleries, they focus on contemporary photography, painting, sculpture and jewelry.  I caught the tail end of their winter “White” show and especially liked the ceramic works by Marc Leuthold and the encaustic panels by Shawna Moore.
Oh Be Joyful Art Gallery

Oh Be Joyful Art Gallery

Marc Leuthold at Gallery 81435

Marc Leuthold at Gallery 81435

Shawna Moore at Telluride Gallery of Fine Art

Shawna Moore at Telluride Gallery of Fine Art

Marshall Noice at Lustre Gallery

Marshall Noice at Lustre Gallery

Telluride

Telluride

Views everywhere we turn in Telluride

Views everywhere we turn in Telluride

Skiing in Telluride

Skiing in Telluride

10 Shows to See in Denver Right Now – August 2013

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Nick Cave: Sojourn at the Denver Art Museum is far and away my favorite show in Denver right now so I am setting it apart from my list of 10.

I have seen his work in museums in LA and Seattle and at the Jack Shainman Gallery in NY a couple times over the past 10 years. I always find myself struck by how his art which seems all-at-once to express carefree, optimistic creativity while hinting at an intense personal narrative filled with caution and perhaps melancholia.

His fancifully embellished soundsuits have taken the world by storm and this show dazzles viewers with the latest and greatest – there are 20 new ones strutting the runway. In this exhibit, I am in love with the 16ft. tondo; it’s an enormous round canvas made out of shimmering beaded black cocktail dresses. I guess the depiction of the night sky is more expression than actual representation; it deftly conveys the artist’s nostalgia for simpler times – just looking at it transported me back to those summer nights when I’d lay back and stare up at the night sky.

I have been back to the museum to see this show a few times and find myself  really drawn to two new series – his “Rescues” and his paintings. In the former, he takes porcelain dogs and props them up, comforting them in cocoons crafted of other flea market finds: grandma’s birds, flowers and beads.  The latter are somewhat 3-dimensional bas-relief compositions of birds, flowers, fruit, beads, beads, and more beads and offer an opportunity for Cave to explore new directions.

There are so many great shows going on in the area; here are 10 of my favorites:

  1. Figure to Field: Mark Rothko in the 1940s at Denver Art Museum – For anyone who is familiar with Rothko’s color-field paintings, this is a must-see.  It really is helpful to look at works that bridge the figurative to abstract.  I was surprised I hadn’t seen more of the them since they mostly come from the collection of the National Gallery and I have been dozens, if not hundreds of times.
  2. Guillermo Kuitca: Diarios at MCA – I was struck by his retrospective exhibit the Smithsonian did with the Albright-Knox a few years back, so it was a treat to see some of these records and how they reveal his ongoing practice.
  3. Catalyst: Colorado Sculpture at Denver Botanic Gardens -it is fun to check out what some of Colorado’s most accomplished sculptors are doing in the public works arena – highlights include Fleming, Lovendahl, Marold, Saito and Surls .  Ana Maria Hernando’s large-scale paintings inside the Boetcher Center are stunning.
  4. Jeanette Pasin Sloan & Kevin Sloan at William Havu Gallery – Wow! You really won’t find two more accomplished painters anywhere. Every single work is stunning!
  5. Victor Vasarely and Yaacov Agam, selections from the David Goodman Collection at the Arvada Center. Op-art is hot this year and this exhibit focuses on two leaders in the genre.
  6. Playground by Margaret Kasahara & Ashley Benton at Sandra Phillips Gallery – Margaret is not only one of the nicest people around, her artwork is among the most compelling in the state. I love her work  – the contradiction of art so colorful and playful that at the same time tackles such difficult issues of xenophobia, race and gender bias. Everytime I look at her work it pulls me into her conversation and confronts me to think about my own prejudice.
  7. Art Abstracted by Sally Stockhold & Virginia Maitland at Museum of Outdoor Arts – two of my favorites!
  8. Corpus Exuberis by Pangloss Gravitron at Emmanuel Gallery – this collective group of artists put together one of the most cohesive shows in the city; I like the steampunk appeal of the work juxtaposed with the old Episcopalian Chapel.
  9. Influence  at Mai Wyn Fine Art. The re-conceived Sandra Phillips space on Santa Fe Drive (SP is now in Golden Triangle) is part studio and part gallery.  This inaugural exhibit showcases some of the many talented artists that have influenced Mai Wyn as an artist.  It is a beautiful, well-curated show.
  10. Urbanism – artwork by Paul Ching-Bor & Sharon Feder at Goodwin Fine Art. Another great show in a beautiful gallery.  The show focuses on the urban, industrial lines of the city. While the two artists have decidedly different styles, I am drawn to their painterly approach.
Nick Cave Sojourn at Denver Art Museum

Nick Cave Sojourn at Denver Art Museum

"Influence" at Mai Wyn Fine Art

“Influence” at Mai Wyn Fine Art

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Guillermo Kuitca: Diarios at MCA

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Someone Like You by Margaret Kasahara at The Sandra Phillips Gallery.

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Linda Fleming at the Denver Botanic Gardens

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Fractal Echo by Nancy Lovendahl

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Birds of America Migration Interrupted by Kevin Sloan at William Havu Gallery

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Virginia Maitland at Museum of Outdoor Arts

Color/Pattern Studies

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This gallery contains 7 photos.

I am excited to share these two new series I began this the past year. They are hand-painted pyrographs on wood; the images on the longer strips are based on patterns I have created over the past 12 years and … Continue reading

American Museum of Western Art

I often write about the art I see during my travels, but the reality is there is a lot to see right here in Denver.  A couple months ago I went with an art historian to The American Museum of Western Art. It was a treat and really a must see in Denver’s growing art scene.

The museum is the showcase of the Anschutz Collection, arguably the best private collection of western art in the world.  It packs, salon style, as many pieces as it possibly can into the 4-story Italianate building from the 19th century (The building itself is worth checking out and has a storied past – read http://www.westword.com/2012-05-31/culture/museum-of-the-american-west-anschutz-collection/  for more information.) There are more than 600 pieces covering works spanning 150 years of artists’ engagement with the West.

The museum is generally planned according to movements and schools of art and while not exactly in chronological order moving from the oldest works on the lower level and up to the most recent on the upper levels.  It is useful to think about these schools and movements and you progress through the museum – there is so much to look at, it helps to organize the experience and see the works in relation to what other artists were up to at any given time.  Docents typically lead you through the floors, but I am told visitors are free to wander.

The main groupings of works include:

The Expeditionary Artists (George Catlin, Seth Eastman, Alfred Jacob Miller, John Mix Stanley); these guys generally went along on expeditions and scouting adventures to record journeys though the west. Their paintings often showcase the interactions with various tribes and depict trappers as they developed the fur trade.

Hudson River and Rocky Mountain Schools ( Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, Worthington Whittredge); these painters typically lived in New York City  and often are most known for their paintings of the Hudson River Valley and later, the Rocky Mountains. These landscapes are filled with light and convey a sense of splendor.

Narrative Artists (George DeForest, William De Leftwich Dodge);these guys were the basic story tellers and depicted what was actually happening as settlers took hold in the west.  They took inspiration from the Renaissance, focusing on playwrights and writers, and poets while telling stories of battles and the gold rush.

California Painters  (Charles Christian Nahl, George Henry Burgess, A.D.O. Browere); these guys came for the gold but went on to showcase early California, often celebrating its Spanish heritage.

Interpreters of the Old West (Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, Charles Schreyvogel); even as the West was quickly developing into a major hub of urbanization, the public embraced their depictions of heroic frontiersmen and the idealized landscapes that filled the pages of papers, magazines and dime-store novels.

Illustrators (NC Wyeth, Dean Cornwell, Herbert Dunton); these artists of the early 20th century were the favored illustrators for short stories, novels and magazines.  Because of the publications, theirs are the iconic images most recognized.

Taos and Santa Fe Schools (Ernest M. Hennings, Ernest Blumenschein, Walter Ufer); these guys were educated artists in search of subject matter. As they travelled west, they basically landed in northern New Mexico and stayed. They developed a style of Southwestern art that is immediately recognizable.

American Regionalist Painters (Thomas Hart Benton, John Stewart Curry) These guys painted America’s heartland in a pseudo-realistic style that gave emphasis to everyday life of small towns and farmlands.

New Deal Artists (Maynard Dixon, Victor Higgins, Frank Mechau,) In the 1930’s Federal programs including the Works Progress Administration and the Section of Painting and Sculpture employed artists to commission paintings for post offices, state capitols, and government buildings. Many of these paintings were murals that depicted the strength and resourcefulness of Americans and the bounty of the landscape.

Expressionists (Marsden Hartley, Birger Sandzén); these artists were modernists, they conveyed emotion through manipulations of color, surface, and form.

Cubism and Abstraction (John Marin, Georgia O’Keefe); it is at this point in the tour of the museum that I really began to notice how quickly styles of art were changing, not only in the West, but around the world. The museum speeds through different modernist styles.

The size of the museum belies the collection – it really is so extensive that you can go back to again and again and continue to see different things and learn more about the development of art of the West and how it relates to the history of our country. (http://www.anschutzcollection.org/)

The-Silenced-War-Whoop - Charles Schreyvogel

The-Silenced-War-Whoop – Charles Schreyvogel

The-Last-Race-Mandan-O-kee-pa-Ceremony George Catlin

The-Last-Race-Mandan-O-kee-pa-Ceremony George Catlin

Death of Minnehaha - William de Leftwich Dodge

Death of Minnehaha – William de Leftwich Dodge

Sunrise In The Vineyard Kim Douglas Wiggins

Sunrise In The Vineyard Kim Douglas Wiggins

Consider Building an Art Collection

I like to go on home & garden tours to get inspiration and to see how my place measures up, and to see art (of course, since it’s what I do). There are the decorated homes – the ones where the artwork just matches each room so perfectly, the size and colors. Those certainly are beautiful homes. Some of the homes have an eclectic vibe which I guess I relate to because that is most often how I describe my own home. Then there are the homes where the owners have so much stuff: posters, paintings, photographs, odd farm-equipment sculptures, wind chimes, glass-eyed porcelain dolls in the guestroom, bric-a-brac.

Every once in a while, a home just makes so much sense – those are the ones where there is such obvious thought behind every decision. The artwork seems to take on a different purpose – each choice is made in the context of the others. Whether the homes have American folk art, impressionist paintings or black & white photography, those are the tours I really love.

The art collections that get me going are really focused; I love the idea that someone develops a set of ground rules and then uses those parameters to actually choose their art. If you want to take a more deliberate approach to getting artwork – try to at least consider it in terms of how it might work in your “collection”.  Most of us wind up finding something we like here and something we like there and then just kind of throw it all together, wondering why it doesn’t necessarily work. The result is that trove of abandoned treasures under the beds, in the closets, basements, attics, or out in the garage.

Of course, you could hire a consultant like me – but even if you don’t, give your choices some thought.  Whether you just discuss your ideas with someone or you chart it out or put it into a spreadsheet, try to establish some guidelines. If you can articulate a framework for the artwork you choose, you can begin to build a collection.

For more information on how I can help you acquire art and/or care for what you already have, see the about tab on my blog.  I’d love to help.

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Laura Letinsky at the Denver Art Museum

Laura Letinsky: Still Life Photographs, 1997–2012, is on view through March 24, 2013 at the Denver Art Museum.

Laura Letinsky is one of those smart ones – you know the type that makes you wish you had really focused on your homework.

Letinsky is well-versed in art history and it shows; her gorgeous still-life images are immediately accessible to the viewer because of their familiarity. The influence is obvious and yet… there is something more…or less. These aren’t the luscious depictions of the lavishly abundant Dutch tables of the 17th Century. Hers are barely-there pieces of fruit on white linens with white backdrops. There are none of the skulls of the vanitas, and yet there is the melancholic reminder that her stories are of moments passed.

Letinsky is a philosopher. We generally obsess with that fleeting moment of perfection when a peach is at its very juiciest firm-fleshed fullest or a lily is sweetly fragrant. Letinsky’s focus is more on the reality this is the penultimate state of dying. In her photos the fruit has that juicy-sticky quality that makes us want just to clean it up before the flies begin choke on the decay. The perfume is beginning to remind us of the stench of fetid water.

Letinsky is a technician – she uses film and she knows all those things that photographers seem to know about cameras and lenses and lighting. I heard her talk and for all I know, when it came to the technical “stuff” she could have been describing how to build spaceships.

Letinksy is a photographer – Of course she knows that the images engage viewers to connect the dots to history and confront mortality and philosophize about perceived meaning, but above all else she is a photographer. I once asked a painter about some of her recent works – the symbolism or meaning of the recurrent imagery; she laughed and told me “It’s paint on a canvas.” It’s funny because I didn’t quite get it then; I mean, it seemed like an idea I could get behind when looking at Abstract Expressionism, but her paintings were figurative. I do get it now – Letinsky’s work sets it out there: there is decaying fruit, spilt wine, paper cups and wrappers; but ultimately they are photographs. She is in the business of taking light and color and composition and capturing that with her camera in a way that allows her to share her “paint on a canvas.”

"Untitled #54" from the series "Hardly More Than Ever," 2002, by Laura Letinsky. (Photo provided by the Yancey Richardson Gallery)

“Untitled #54” from the series “Hardly More Than Ever,” 2002

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Untitled, #5 2005 To Say It Isn’t So

 

 

Untitled #2 from the series "The Dog and the Wolf," 2008

Untitled #2 from the series “The Dog and the Wolf,” 2008

Untitled #1 31x40 from the series "The Dog & The Wolf"

Untitled #1 31×40 from the series “The Dog and the Wolf” 2008

My new artwork at Space Gallery

I am showing new work at Space Gallery April 13 through May 19 and I would love to have you come check it out  – it includes one of the largest pieces I have worked on to date.  Please do swing by and check out the show at any time that works for you or contact me and I will walk you through it when it’s convenient.I am continuing the burn series with multiple layers of paper, burning imagery through each layer. I love to explore the interplay of light and shadow and the manipulation of the viewer’s eye to explore movement and depth.
Additionally, I have started 2 new series – the first is a group of photopolymer etchings I did this past year that allow me to explore the pyrographs while introducing color. The second series is a group of deconstructed pieces that I have then reassembled.
These new works are fun for me and I hope that you will like them.

Installation shot at Space Gallery; Marlene's sculpture in foreground.

detail image of pyrograph, courtesy of the artist

Untitled, pyrograph mounted on panel 63″ square, image courtesy of the artist.

This piece is 20 layers of burns stacked together; I love the spaces where you can see all the way through it and also the shadows it casts. It can be hung vertically, but I chose to showcase it horizontally in the show.