By Bonnie Gangelhoff
Describe your studio. It’s in the same building as the Art Students League of Denver. It was an elementary school in the 1950s. When the area ran out of enough kids to support a school, the city leased it to artists for cheap rents, and the Art Students League bought it for a song. It’s an old brick and sandstone building. My studio has wonderful windows all around, 14-foot ceilings, and an oak floor. It’s got that lived-in look with antiques, books, a roll-top desk, and props like silk kimonos and old vases. I could use three times the space. Things are closing in on me.
Anything else in the studio? My two basset hounds, Putter and Birdie.
What music do you play in the studio? Beethoven, Mark Knopfler, Emmylou Harris, and Willie Nelson.
What are you working on now? I just finished a big show at Gallery 1261 in Denver, and I’m catching my breath for my next show, which is at The Catto Gallery in London this fall. I’ve also just finished three new instructional videos: Painting the Still Life, Nuts & Bolts, and Painting the Figure in an Interior.
What impresses you about other artists? When they go beyond the obvious.
Where can people find you when you’re not painting? I’m usually in my studio. It’s a very fertile place. I love to read here. In the summer I play golf. It’s an incredibly mental game, which is why I like it.
What do you read? Nonfiction mostly. I love concept and idea books, especially science and philosophy. I also read about technology, archeology, and paleontology. I feel like I’m going to school all over again. I never learn anything about art from reading an art book; I always learn more by reading science or philosophy. There will be a corresponding structural concept that will open a door for me on how to put a painting together.
What is the one place people will never find you? A slam-dance night club. All the lights and noise are extremely uninteresting to me.
Do you have a place you like to go to meet friends or other artists? There is nothing better than dinner and great wine with friends. I like to go to Mizuna in Denver. I think it’s the best restaurant in Colorado. I’ve done paintings of the kitchen there, and some of them are in Frank Bonanno’s cookbook. He’s the chef there, and he has a couple of my older paintings hanging on the walls at Mizuna, too.
How has the Denver art scene changed over the years? Denver has always been a good art town. The Art Students League and the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design put out wonderful artists. The city’s art scene is probably even more dynamic than when I started teaching here 20 years ago.
What is your next big goal? Miles Davis once said it took him a long time to get to play like himself. I’ve spent 27 years learning about painting, developing and mastering the skills. That’s how long it’s taken me to get to paint like myself. I think it’s about being totally open and honest and not painting for collectors or museums. My recent show at Gallery 1261 was eclectic—it looked like the work of 10 different artists. I don’t want to be pigeonholed into a particular style. I want to paint with the grace of a ballerina whose years of hard work and training are evident each time she dances. I feel like I’m 90 percent there.
Gallery 1261, Denver, CO; Claggett/Rey Gallery, Vail, CO; Jack Meier Gallery, Houston, TX; The Catto Gallery, London, England; www.quangho.com.
Solo show, The Catto Gallery, fall.
Featured in March 2010