Category Archives: Art Galleries

Mad, Magnificent MEOW WOLF

New walk-through, interactive Santa art installation in Santa Fe.

P1090242Everything about Meow Wolf is an experience like no other. The permanent  House of Eternal Return  is an immersive experience for visitors of all ages. For me, at any rate, it heightened the senses, stimulated the mind and confused the brain that struggled to bring order to creative chaos.

Featuring the wild creativity of more than 100 local artists, this 20,000-square-foot playground for all ages is science fiction and fantasy come to life.  It combines climbing features, art installations, structural masterworks, digital fabrication and more plus physical and digital interaction possibilities. So imaginative is the concept that Game of Thrones author George RR Martin, who lives in Santa Fe, bought an old bowling alley enabling the concept to become reality  or rather, alternative realities. It also includes maker rooms so that adults and children can unleash their own creativity.

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P1090253P1090252P1090265I hardly knew what to make of it all — what with the sensory overload, so I present “Inside Meow Wolf, the amusement park for people who want a weirder Disneyland” by Annalee Newitz, a writer far hipper and savvier than I — one who spent more time there I did.

Opened in March, Meow Wolf has been attracting roughly a thousand people a week. My visit was short, and these few modest images can do nothing but hint at the magic and the fantasy.  Meow Wolf is open daily except Tuesday. It is at1352 Rufina Circle, Santa Fe;  505-780-4458.

Denver Art Museum Wows With Wyeths

Father and son works juxtaposed in exclusive exhibition.

Jamie Wyeth at the entrance to the new exhibition at the Denver Art Museum.
Jamie Wyeth at the entrance to the new exhibition at the Denver Art Museum.

I first “met” the Wyeths — N.C., Andrew and Jamie — at the Brandywine River Museum, dedicated to preserving the landscape, art and culture of a poetic part of Pennsylvania and Delaware. I got to know them better at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockport, Maine. Now, highlights of the Wyeths’ remarkable artworks have come practically to my doorstep.

Two of the three generations of this gifted family are represented in “Wyeth: Andrew & Jamie in the Studio,” which opens tomorrow at the Denver Art Museum. Jamie Wyeth was in town for the media preview. What a treat to hear his stories of the ways he and his father create(d) art. Timothy Standring, the DAM’s curator of painting and sculpture, spent 4 years assembling the show. Its 100-plus works in various media ( including pen and ink, graphite, charcoal, watercolor, dry brush, tempera, oil and mixed media, including ground-up pearls from a necklace of Jamie’s wife) are in Denver through February 7.

Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s Word,” enshrined at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art, is not in the exhibition. It is an iconic painting, IMO on the order of the “Mona Lisa” or”Whistler’s Mother,” this is a a must-see for the legions of visitors who visit the museums that house them. MOMA has loaned it out just once and only for a single day. The Wyeth exhibition does include a study for this famous work.

Jamie is delightful raconteur but also an intense and private painter. For a time in Maine, he painted in a plywood bait box where he wouldn’t be disturbed. He likes to do subjects in series — farm animals, dogs, ravens, Rudolf Nureyev, the Seven Deadly Sins, Andy Warhol, nudes, currently screen doors. Famous for his portraits, Jamie doesn’t take commissions but paints only those people he wishes to. He often asks the “sitter” (i.e., the subject) to sign the work because he feels that each one is a collaboration between painter and subject.

I asked whether there are any younger Wyeths painting? He replied, “God, I hope not!” and then admitted that some younger relatives are artists. Lauren Whitney of CBS4 also came to interview him. This exhibition is at the DAM through Feb 7, and then a portion goes to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid — and that’s it. Aren’t we lucky to have it in Denver?
@WyethInDenver

A Visit to Harman’s House

‘Cowboy artist’ remembered in Poncha Springs museum.

026My son started attending Fort Lewis College in 2001, and he has lived in Durango ever since. I haven’t counted how many times I’ve traveled U.S. 160, but the last time, my husband and I finally stopped to visit the Fred Harman Art Museum. In my/our defense, it is open six days a week (10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) in the warm months and open only by appointment in winter, and that schedule doesn’t usually coincide with our travel itinerary.

Volunteer docent shares stories of  Fred Harmon's life and points out important and interesting pieces
Volunteer docent shares stories from Fred Harmon’s life and points out important and interesting pieces

The Harman is one of those fascinating little museums that is too often bypassed. Fred Harman was a gifted self-taught artist who at one time entered into a short-lived, failed film partnership with Walt Disney in Kansas City. Disney went to Hollywood, and Harman  returned to his native Colorado to ranch and make art, working with oils, watercolors, pen-and-ink and bronze. He is best known as the creator of the Red Ryder comic strip, which at its height was syndicated to more than 750 newspapers on three continents.

The museum was Fred Harmon's home and studio.
The museum was Fred Harmon’s home and studio.
Harmon always depicted Native Americans accurately and respectfully, not to be taken for granted. The museum features works by Native artists, and he was made an honorary member of the Navajo Nation.
Harmon always depicted Native Americans accurately and respectfully, not to be taken for granted. The museum features works by Native artists, and he was made an honorary member of the Navajo Nation.

Having finally visited and been captivated by the modest museum and its contents, I am putting it on my recommended list for anyone traveling that way. The address is 85 Harman Park Drive, but you really can’t miss it if you follow the signs on the south side of U.S. 160, just west of downtown Pagosa Springs. The phone number is 970-731-5785. And admission is just $3.

Baltimore’s Washington Monument

Treasures in century-old time capsule revealed.

VisitBaltimore-logoGiven the recent protests in Baltimore that spiraled out of control, I am happy that there is good news from the city — and that news takes us back into history. The fabled obelisk on the Mall in Washington, DC. may be the best-known memorial to the first president of the US.

But an older one is in nearby Baltimore. Time capsules from 1815 and 1915 discovered during renovations of Baltimore’s Washington Monument, revealed a Bible printed using a miniscule font dating back to 1812 and what could be one of the earliest existing photographs of the Declaration of Independence that opened at the city’s famous Walters Art Museum.

Baltimore's newly restored Washington Monument.
Baltimore’s newly restored Washington Monument. (Flickr image)

The 1915 time capsule was discovered last October behind a bronze plaque commemorating the monument’s Centennial. It contains more than 50 items, including an iron spike, a map of trade routes from the port of Baltimore to the Panama Canal, a picture of Francis Scott Key and what could be one of the earliest existing photographs of the Declaration of Independence, taken in 1903 by L.C. Handy, the son-in-law of famed Civil War photographer Mathew Brady.

The monument’s original 1815 cornerstone, found in February, contained three glass jars that were put in the ground as the nation’s first civic monument to George Washington was being built.  Contents from the first jar include a published copy of Washington’s Presidential farewell address, ten United States coins in copper, silver and gold, a “Joseph Sansom” medal of Washington and a medal honoring the Duke of Wellington’s successful military campaigns in the Spanish Peninsular Wars. The second jar contained a copy of the Bible published in Baltimore by John Hagerty in 1812. Like a small volume in the first jar, it celebrates advances in local printing technology, being printed in miniscule “Diamond Type” developed at the Baltimore Type Foundry.

The smallest jar held examples of the Federal Gazette from July 5 and 6, 1815. The latter date includes a full account of the laying of the cornerstone. The presence of this jar was a complete surprise as the original accounts suggest that the cornerstone was laid and sealed on July 4. Perhaps the most important item found in the well is a copy of the Declaration of Independence, reprinted in the Federal Gazette on July 3, 1815, the day before the cornerstone was laid.

The monument, the first to honor George Washington in the United States, celebrates its bicentennial on July 4 and re-opens to the public following a $5.5 million restoration. Select items from both the 1815 Cornerstone and 1915 Time Capsule will go on display at the Maryland Historical Society this Independence Day.

Chihuly After Dark: Magic in the Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens’ blockbuster dazzles at night.

010Glass artist Dale Chihuly first entered by consciousness during a visit to Tacoma, Washington, were the Museum of Glass had recently opened. I can’t recall the year, but my fascination with art glass in general and with Dale Chihuly in particular stems from that visit. I was awestruck fantastic forest of brilliant blown glass stalagmites by Chihuly in one large, dazzling gallery. Since then, I’ve seen his works in museums, lobbies of hotels and performing arts venues and at Pismo Glass, the Colorado galleries that carry his work. I went to the opening of the “Chihuly in the Gardens” exhibition at the Denver Botanic Gardens last June. It was, of course, wonderful, as I wrote here. Now that days are shorter and nights are longer, “Chihuly Nights” is on view beginning at 5:30 p.m. we were there until nearly 8:30 p.m., and no one was yet hustling us out.

Hard to believe, but the glass is even more stunning and magical during the day. In summer daylight, the glass is counterpointed with the floral. After dark, nothing really competes. This exhibition continues through November 30. Don’t miss it. Click here for tickets, but hurry. They are selling fast. Here are a few after-dark dazzlers (captions not needed):

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Art Everywhere — But Where?

Nationwide “art exhibition” on billboards and other places.

ArtEverywhere2014-logoTomorrow, August 4, is the rollout of Art Everywhere US, billed as “the world’s largest art show” and described as “a public celebration of great American art exhibited on thousands of out of home (OOH) advertising displays across America. OOH displays include billboards, bus shelters, subway posters and much more.” It was inspired by Art Everywhere UK.

"American Gothic" behind a staircase.
“American Gothic” behind a staircase.

Five important American art museums selected works that represent American history and culture, and the American public was invited to vote for their favorite artworks, 58 of which are featured in the Art Everywhere US campaign that is about to launch in New York’s Times Square. Where else will works appear? I don’t know, and the organizers aren’t telling exactly (except to say that theywill be in all 50 states), so you’ll just have to be on the lookout. It’s like a national scavenger hunt for famous American artworks.

 

Chihuly Glass Opening at Denver Botanic Gardens

Renowned glass artist’s 13th garden exhibition.

Denver-Botanic-Gardens-LogoEarlier this year, my husband and I saw a fantastic installation of Dale Chihuly’s brilliant glass at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, captivated, of course, and thrilled that the Denver Botanic Gardens would be the next stop in the glass-meister‘s “garden series.” Chihuly in Denver opens on Saturday, June 14, and it’s a must for anyone who lives in or is visiting the metro area or even is passing through en route to the mountains. I was fortunate to be invited to a preview or the exhibition, and thrilled that Dale Chihuly himself was there for the opening.

Glass installations sites are in place at 14 sites — some rising from plantscapes, some in water, some soaring to great heights, some in water features. Many of the pieces were specially made for this exhibition, while others are reused. Common elements between Phoenix and Denver (and presumably other gardens as well) are towers of glass, slender reeds, sinuous curlicues and more — all in brilliant colors.  The works dazzle in the bright Colorado sunlight, and look different but still spectacular after dark or on a gray day. Since the exhibition will be in place through November 30, we can expect gray days and even snowy ones.

Blue Icicle Towers with its 650 glass "icicles" greets visitors at the Gardens' entrance.
Blue Icicle Towers with its 650 glass “icicles” greets visitors at the Gardens’ entrance.
Glass reeds emerge from flower beds on both sides of the O'Fallon Perennial Walk.
Glass reeds emerge from flower beds on both sides of the O’Fallon Perennial Walk.

Continue reading Chihuly Glass Opening at Denver Botanic Gardens

Cool Hotel in Scottsdale

Stylish luxury at W Hotel.

P1060483Last baseball season, I attended a Colorado Rockies game at the invitation of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau — a natural connection since the Rockies’ spring training is there. I lucked out when my card was one of several drawn for a two-night stay and even luckier that it was for the W Hotel Scottsdale. The other properties are beautiful golf resorts with splendid spas, but I like to be within walking distance of restaurants, art and scenery — especially when I’m new to a place and am more interested in exploring than relaxing. Therefore, it was a perfect match for me and my husband.

It is stylish and modern, and the vibe is young and active. Our room was not huge but comfort compensated for lack of square footage.

The bathroom is trendy, thanks to the tasteful mix of glass, stone and tile.
The bathroom is a trendy and tasteful mix of glass, stone and tile.
Big, comfortable bed with quality linens and a selection of pillows.
Big, comfortable bed with quality linens and a selection of pillows.
Dusk from our room. Not a full panorama, but not bad either.
Dusk from our room. Not a full panorama, but not bad either.

Within walking distance or ride by bus or free trolley of the W were numerous things to see and do — and we managed despite the heat. The Paolo Soleri Memorial Bridge was right around the corner. Scottsdale is a wealthy community, so the public art is nothing less than spectacular with more than 70 pieces around town. Galleries and museums were a walk or a ride away.  The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, touristy and fun Old Town Scottsdale and the Arizona Canal with its multi-use path and classy, costly real estate developments were all nearby. We were even there for the Thrusday evening Art Walk, which I loved. Totally.

Scoping Out Scottsdale

Public art aplenty in tony Phoenix suburb.

Scottsdale-logoColorado and Arizona are connected by baseball. During spring training, the Colorado Rockies are at home in Scottsdale. The Rox are back at Coors Field, but I’m in Arizona for a few days — not to visit the team’s other field or even to see the Fiesta Bowl but to explore a vibrant desert city,

Yesterday was the kind of day I like in a place I don’t know or don’t know well — that is, a day with a few want-to-see goals linked by random wandering. I’m not big on shopping, though the boutiques and shops look impressive, For me, the most impressive was Scottsdale’s extraordinary display of downtown public art. Here’s how my husband and I spent our day:

The Doors by sculptor Donald Lipski. The outside is composed of three tall wooden slabs with metal strapping and other fittings.
The Doors by sculptor Donald Lipski. The outside is composed of three tall wooden slabs with metal strapping and other  metal fittings.
The interior of the sculpture is mirrored, so the effect is kaleidoscope-like. Here is a selfie of my husband and me, peeking around a mirror. When you stand on a certain part of the pavement, you hear the sounds of Jim Green's audible art.
The interior of the sculpture is mirrored, so the effect is kaleidoscope-like. Here is a selfie of my husband and me, peeking around a mirror. When you stand on a certain part of the pavement, you hear the sounds of Jim Green’s audible art.
Soleri bells hang between two shorter pylons on the south end of the bridge.
Soleri’s Goldwater Bells hang between two shorter pylons on the south end of the fascinating Paolo Soleri Bridge.
The mission church in Old Town has been restored and is now open to the public and also available for weddings.
The mission church in Old Town has been restored and is now open to the public and also available for weddings.
Scottsdale's interesting little historic museum, originally the young community's first schoolhouse.
Scottsdale’s interesting little historic museum, originally the young community’s first schoolhouse.
"Leslie Shows: Surfacing" at Scottsdale's Museum of Contemporary Art. Admission is free on Thursdays.
“Leslie Shows: Surfacing” at Scottsdale’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Admission is free on Thursdays.
One rendition of Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture in Scottsdale's Civic Center Mall, a park filled with fountains and outdoor art.
One rendition of Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture in Scottsdale’s Civic Center Mall, a park filled with fountains and outdoor art. When front-lit, it is red.
Free trolleys run on several routes.
Free trolleys run on several routes.
The old and the new in Scottsdale: Bronze sculpture depicting the Hashknife Pony Express, re-enactors who ride every year for 200 miles from Holbrook to Scottsdale in the manner of the Pony Express. In the background, another luxury building under construction.
The old and the new in Scottsdale: Bronze sculpture depicting the Hashknife Pony Express, re-enactors who ride every year for 200 miles from Holbrook to Scottsdale in the manner of the Pony Express. In the background, another luxury building under construction.
ArtWalk every Thursday evening from 7 to 9. Main Street boasts the greatest of galleries.
ArtWalk every Thursday evening from 7 to 9. Main Street boasts the greatest concentration of galleries.

$52.80 Culture Pass Top Denver Deal

Attention Denver visitors: one pass, seven museums — at a savings too

MileHighCulturePassWith the new Mile High Culture Pass, tourists can visit seven of Denver’s most popular attractions for the “mile high” price of $52.80, a savings of more than $25. Included in the pass are many of Denver’s top attractions such as the Denver Zoo, the Denver Art Museum, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Botanic Gardens, History Colorado Center, Clyfford Still Museum and the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art. Holders of the pass also get a 50 percent discount on Denver B-Cycle, and discounts to the Molly Brown House Museum and other attractions.  The seven attraction pass must be used within five consecutive days. A three-attraction version of the pass, with a choice of three attractions for $25, must be used within three days and saves $12.

It works like this. Click here for a printable ticket or stop at the Denver Visitor Information Center located (1600 California Street. in downtown). Over the course of five consecutive days, the “Seven” pass allows entry to all seven participating attractions and over the course of three consecutive days, the “Three” pass allows entry to any three participating attractions of your choice. A limit of eight passescan be purchased via the system at one time. The pass is activated at the first attraction visited.

Participating Mile High Culture Pass Attractions

Clyfford Still Museum. Clyfford Still, considered one of the most important painters of the 20th century, was among the first generation of Abstract Expressionist artists. The museum, which opened at the end of 2011, was founded to promote the late artist’s work and legacy. Still’s estate and its 2,400 artworks had been sealed off from the public since 1980.
Denver Art Museum. The museum’s two major section were respectively designed by renowned architects Gio Ponti and Daniel Libeskind. This archtectural icon houses one of the world’s greatest collections of American Indian and Western masterpieces, plus cutting-edge works and classics from the likes of Picasso, Cézanne and many more. The visiting exhibitions have been world-class.
Denver Botanic Gardens. his 23-acre oasis in the middle of the city has 45 different gardens  and some 33,000 plants, as well as one of the nation’s top 10 conservatories. Visitors are invited to relax in the Japanese Garden, climb through the Rock Alpine Garden and explore the new Mordecai Children’s Garden.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science. One of the largest such museums in the U.S., the Denver Museum of Nature & Science is a maze filled with treasures of the earth – dinosaurs, dioramas, space exhibits, science experiments, a digital planetarium, IMAX theatre and touring shows. Tom’s Baby, Colorado’s largest gold nugget, is displayed here.
Denver Zoo. Visitors can go underwater with polar bear, or eyeball-to-eyeball with a gorilla. The Zoo’s Predator Ridge recreates the plains of Africa with a pride of lions, while Tropical Discovery is rainforest teeming with crocodiles and Gila monsters. The zoo’s newest addition is Toyota Elephant Passage, a $50 million, 10-acre home for the Zoo’s elephants, gibbons, rhinos and more, all in the heart of an Asian village. It is the world’s largest bull elephant habitat with room for up to 12 of the huge beasts.
History Colorado Center. The History Colorado Center, one of Denver’s newest cultural attractions, is designed to ignite imaginations of all ages about Colorado history through high-tech and hands-on exhibits, programs for children and adults, and special events.
Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art. This quirky and interesting museum showcases the works by collections of distinguished  Colorado painter, Vance Kirkland (1904-1981). The museum is also filled to the brim with more than 3,300 works of Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Glasgow Style, Wiener Werkstätte, De Stijl, Bauhaus, Art Deco, Modern and Pop Art.