A Weekend of Art in Colorado – Sculpture in the Park, Loveland, and Quick Visits to the Denver Art Museum and the Clyfford Still Museum

Loveland

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Sculpture in the Park show in Loveland, CO. I was invited to give a seminar on the business of art to participating artists on Friday morning, and I had the opportunity to visit the show that afternoon. This was my second time attending the show, and I was again impressed with both the scope and quality of the show.

If you didn’t know any better, you wouldn’t expect that a small town like Loveland, with a population of only 77,000, would be able to produce a show of the caliber of Sculpture in the Park. Loveland, however, has developed as a center for foundries and related sculpture businesses. The show, now in its 35th year, attracts top artists and collectors from all over the world.

It was fun for me to see a range of sculpture from miniature to monumental, and from traditional to avant-guarde. The show features 160 artists, and in the five hours that I had at the event, I was able to visit the four tents that housed all of the artists and spend some time getting to know a number of the artists and their work. I could easily have spent another day or two at the show (which is what many of the patrons were doing – the show runs Friday through Sunday), but commitments at home required me to fly back on Saturday.

Visitors enjoy viewing sculptures in one of the four tents that house the Loveland Sculpture in the Park Show

Denver

The Denver Art Museum

Before catching my flight early Saturday afternoon, however, I decided that I was going to steal a couple of hours and visit the Denver Art Museum. Though I’ve visited Denver a number of times over recent years, I’ve never managed to make it to the museum. I also wanted to visit the Clyfford Still museum, but it didn’t seem like it was going to be possible with the short amount of time available to me.

It took an hour to drive from Loveland to downtown Denver, where I parked and rushed to the museum just as it was opening at 10:00 a.m.

The building housing the museum was designed by Daniel Libeskind, and, like many of Libeskind’s projects, is hard to ignore. With sharp angles, jagged edges and unusual geometry, the building would easily fit into a science fiction movie.

I paid for general admission and proceed to make my way through the museum, beginning with an exhibit of work by native american artist Jeffrey Gibson, followed by an exhibition of landscape photography by a variety of artists.

I spent time exploring both of these exhibits, and then made my way to the upper levels where I spent some time in shows about animals in art, and an exhibit of Julie Buffalohead’s work.

I enjoyed all of the work I was seeing, but I had only spent about an hour and ten minutes in the museum, and here I was nearing the last of the exhibition spaces. I had worked my way through the museum efficiently, while at the same time trying to appreciate and enjoy the experience, and yet, here I was, done, far ahead of when I thought I would be.

I admit I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t that the art I had seen was deficient in any way, but the museum felt more like an art museum in a university than a full-fledged art museum in a major metropolitan area. Where were the works by my favorite artists from art history? Why were the works from the museum’s permanent collection so scarce? I hadn’t researched the museum before my visit, so I didn’t have any expectations, but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.

It was only as I was leaving the building and looked across the street to see a large building being renovated that I realized what was happening. A quick search on my phone revealed that the museum’s north building, a structure designed by Gio Ponti almost 50 years ago was being completely renovated and was closed to the public. It became clear it was the renovation that was precluding me from seeing the museum’s full collection. I was relieved to find that Denver didn’t lack a great museum, my timing was just bad.

I clearly need to revisit the museum once the work is complete to get a true sense of the collection.

I Razored all my Paintings | The Work of Jeffrey Gibson

 

New Territory | Landscape Photography Today

Some Favorites

Untitled (Brief Encounter) 2006 by Gregory Crewdson

A Mountain Symphony (1927) by Sven Birger Sandzen

Willy, Argus, and Lucky (1996-97) Deborah Butterfield

The Clyfford Still Museum

The length of my visit to the temporarily-diminished museum came with a silver lining, however; I now had time to visit the Clyfford Still Museum, which sits immediately west of the art museum.

I have to admit that I came to the museum knowing very little about Still. I have come across his name and work in my readings, I haven’t studied Still’s work or read any biographies about the artist.

I don’t remember seeing much of Still’s work in my visits to major museums, but it turns out that this is because Still wanted the works still in his estate at the time of his death to be housed together in one museum, and stipulated this in his will. His work would go to the major American city that was willing to establish a permanent museum solely for his work. It turned out that Denver was the city willing to commit to building the museum and housing the collection for exhibit and study.

The museum is minimal, but stunning. It’s powerful to have a museum dedicated to one artist’s work, especially an artist like Still, whose work comes to life in the space.

I ended up spending more time in the Clyfford Still museum than I had in the partially-open Denver Art Museum.

Visit

Even though my quick visit to Denver wasn’t exactly what I had expected, and though it would make sense to wait to visit the Denver Art Museum until their renovation work is complete (I never could find an estimate of the timeline for the project), if you happen to be in Denver, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend following in my footsteps to visit the Libeskind designed extension of the museum – the building itself is worth the visit – and the Clyfford Still Musuem.

I ended up thoroughly enjoying the several hours I was able to spend with the art, and ended up having to rush to get to the airport so I didn’t miss my flight back to Phoenix.

 

Have you Visited the Loveland Sculpture in the Park Show, Denver Art Museum, or Clyfford Still Museum?

If you’ve visited the sculpture show in Loveland, the Denver Art Museum, or the Clyfford Still Musuem, I’d love to hear what you thought! Share your experience in the comments below.

 

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15 Comments

  1. Thank you for visiting our museums in Denver there is also a modern museum of art in Denver as well. The Denver Art Museum has many wonderful high quality and important historical shows of very important artists of the past as well as current prominent artists. Yes please come back when our wonderful renovation is completed because that building has a fabulous array of art from centuries back and collections of wonderful cultures around the world. We are missing those amazing pieces of art while the renovation is being completed.

  2. Thank you for visiting our fair city! Yes, with the DAM’s Ponti building being under renovation, you did miss a lot. I am a member at the DAM and anxiously awaiting the completion.

    I am a huge fan of Clyfford Still. The show changes from time to time and guest curators are sometimes invited to select from his works for a new show. Sometimes the DAM has a connected show of an artist that complements or speaks to the work of Still. There is also a meditation group that meets there and also concerts and lectures. A great little museum and the space is wonderful and grand!

    The Loveland show is a worthy national show! It is an honor to get juried in to it. Many years ago, it used to be mostly traditional bronzes but in the last decade they have included a more diverse group of artists.

  3. Thanks for coming and presenting to those of us who were taking part in the Loveland show. I eagerly follow your thinking about the developing marketplace for contemporary artists, and the skills necessary to cultivate success. You have given us much to think about!

  4. Thanks for visiting Colorado, my home state. I enjoyed your article. Meanwhile, I’m headed to another art mecca this weekend, Santa Fe. It’s good when artists and art representatives connect in new ways on varied forums and geographic areas. It helps the creative process evolve.

  5. Wow, you saw a lot in the short time you were there. I haven’t been to any of those museums, but I am very familiar with Clyfford Still, the SFMOMA has a large collection of his work, which I always enjoyed seeing. Thanks for posting the blue painting, I haven’t seen that one before, it must be stunning in person. One drawback to living in paradise is that there are no major art collections. As much as I enjoy Hawaiian art and crafts, it is so great that I get to go to LA occasionally and visit my daughter and get my art fix.

  6. Enjoyed the photos of museum art that you included in your article. Just because the museum allows visitors to take photos for personal use, does that give you the right to publish photos of these artworks on your blog – or did you request and receive permission for such use?

    1. Thanks Cynthia – I checked into the photography policies of both museums while there and both permit photography and sharing of imagery as long as the images aren’t being sold. It’s always a good idea to check with museums that you visit before photographing or posting images – it seems like every museum has a different policy.

  7. Hi Jason, thanks for that lovely blog and photos. I’ve never been to Colorado (other than through the airport) and your examples made a nice peek at what’s going on there in the art world.
    My husband and daughter are currently on their way home from a trip to Amsterdam where they got to go to the Mueller and the Van Gogh museums as well as many other fun stops. I was amazed that, at least at the Mueller, they were not discouraged from taking photos of the work, thus, they sent me a photo of Kayla in front of Van Gogh’s “Caf√© at Night” which I will treasure. At the Van Gogh museum photography WAS discouraged, but John saw people surreptitiously snapping their cell phones.
    This must be the week of me enjoying some great/priceless art vicariously!

  8. I love both the Denver Museum and the Clyfford Stills. Denver is a really wonderful museum that takes it’s patrons and guests seriously by having spaces where we can take the time hang out and look. One of the areas I really appreciated, though from your description it’s closed right now, is their ‘library’ space which feels like an old school living room…..wood panelling, books, leather couches, side tables with lamps. A place where one can read about the artists and then go back to the works. I hope they keep that! Clyfford Stills was a total delight and I so appreciated how he went from a classical art education to abstract. I also really appreciated how he bowed out of the art ‘scene’ to be able to devote full time to his work. If you ever find a ‘puzzle’ based on Stills’ work, I highly recommend it. It’s a large box filled with about 10 pieces each of 5 or 6 abstract shapes, each shape a different color, based on his designs/forms that can be put together in an infinite number of ways. It’s a fantastic way to better understand how Stills might have seen and used both positive and negative shape. The CS Museum was selling it but I bought their last one and they weren’t sure if they would be producing any more. I live in LA, but try to stop in to the Denver Museum when I’m there. Both museums are gems.

  9. Jason, thanks for the Denver notes. You just determined what route I’ll drive the next time I hit the trail to the Southwest.

    I hadn’t known the Clyfford Still Museum was there. I’ve been intrigued by those of his works I’ve seen in publications. Now that I know I can see them for real, I have a reason to visit Denver.

    Like you I didn’t have much time when I was last in Denver, and saw only part of the Denver Art Museum. I usually remember just a few things, several years after a museum visit, and for me it’s these: the Mesoamerican pieces, including an atypically sweet sculpture of a father carrying his child on his shoulders; the Penitente carvings which were graphic and moving, and affected me with the regret one feels when seeing great populist and/or spiritual art separated from its original setting; and by way of solace, one of Monet’s London bridge-and-fog pieces, simple to remember, great because it is simple.

    That’s two museums,so I guess I really have two reasons to go to Denver again.

  10. As a member of both Denver museums, I’m thrilled that you were able to experience them — at least a bit. As an abstract artist, I find the Clyfford Still musium is especially inspiring. It’s small enough that you can get to know the staff and they become a wonderful resource . Plus, they are always experimenting with new ways to experience the art — from Music in the Galleries, to “One Painting at a Time, to witnessing the initial unrolling of Still’s canvases as the museum curators work through his collection. Give both museums a little more time when you’re back in Denver!

  11. I appreciate your eclectic taste in the pieces you chose to include in your blog. Fascinating. There is a special something that makes each important. Perhaps it is a peek at the artist’s soul….

  12. Once again you share your generous and eclectic taste in the arts! I lived a good part of my life in Denver and its suburbs; I miss it; I got my art education there, showed art in some local galleries and made many visits to the Denver Art Museum which was some smaller at the time… gosh how That has changed. However, it was always a first class museum with a strong nod to historical and cultural art, and good vision when accumulating modern art for its collection. Going back some day and especially visiting the Clyfford Still Museum is a future a goal – his work is phenomenal. To my disappointment, trips back to beautiful Colorado and Loveland were never able to coincide with the well known “Sculpture In the Park” show,
    so thank you for sharing that, as well as a thank you for sharing all your other interesting, very helpful and informative blogs.

  13. Thanks, Jason, for presenting your seminar to the Sculpture in the Park artists. I thought the seminar was excellent and many of my fellow artist friends said the same. The Sculpture in the Park show was again very successful. This was my 17th year in the show.

    Sorry only part of the Denver Art Museum was open due to remodeling. The good news is that the museum will be the only United States location hosting the world tour of the largest collection of Claude Monet’s work since the 1990’s starting in October, 2019. EVERYONE should try to see this!

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