Arts at Denver, April 22-May 14
This story was featured in the May 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Arts at Denver began a quarter century ago in the mountain town of Silver Plume, CO. And although its location has changed, six times before landing in its current Denver locale, its mission has remained: to exhibit the best of Colorado representational works—sometimes impressionistic, sometimes classical, always beautiful. “Over the years, our collectors have learned so much about the quality of works. They’ve become wonderfully curious about each artist’s style and story. It’s important for the gallery to continue evolving as our collectors’ tastes evolve, too,” says gallery owner Paula Colette Conley.
Recognizing this silver anniversary, Conley is mounting an all-gallery show, featuring 35 artists and some 75 works. The show opens with an artists’ reception on Friday, April 22, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Some participating artists, like Lani Vlaanderen and Teresa Vito, have been with the gallery since the start; others, like Margaretta Caesar and Sheri Farabaugh, are newer additions. Brenda Hendrix, Jody Rigsby, Mike Natale, and Mikael Olson are also exhibiting. Although there’s no explicit theme, given the spring season, Conley anticipates many of the works giving a nod to the idea of renewal.
Margaretta Caesar’s entire painting career has been a story of reinvention. A substitute teacher for 27 years, she’s been painting for only nine years and has embraced the role of an emerging artist. “I’ve liked being an emerging artist—learning and experimenting, growing and playing. Why would you ever want to emerge? But I have emerged, and I do know who I am,” she says.
She’s found her voice in color—in luscious reds and dreamy blues, fiery oranges and subtle greens. And she’s found her message in layers of paint, with brush strokes so thick that viewers can see the bristle marks. For this show she draws on her perennial subject matter, the foothills and mountains near her home in Morrison, CO, and in New Mexico, and the open skies and dramatic cloudscapes of the West. Though she’s certainly hit her stride, she’s not done with discovery. “I don’t want to make it sound like I’ve reached a pinnacle, and it’s all come together. But I’ve reached a confidence in my work. I still thrive on experimentation and learning,” she says.
Fellow Colorado painter Sheri Farabaugh draws upon her favored subject—water—for this show. She captures a kayaker navigating the rapids of the South Platte River through Denver and two young friends on a tubing adventure down the canal behind her house. The latter piece was also exhibited in the 2015 Oil Painters of America Salon, making her one of several artists in the gallery’s stable with prestigious credits.
“We opened on April Fool’s Day on a wing and a prayer, and 25 years later, we’re still here,” Conley says. “So many galleries have come and gone, all through the Rocky Mountain region. It’s incredibly gratifying to have such loyal customers and wonderful artists. It just shows that when you love what you do, and you’re knowledgeable, it works out.” Conley adds, “In the future, we’re going to stay with Colorado painters and high-quality representational work. It’s a winning formula.” —Ashley M. Biggers
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