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.
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
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.
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.