I visited Denver last month, on Inauguration weekend, on the Women's March weekend; it now seems like a much longer time ago. I came across a rich cultural fabric - museums, galleries, art spaces, and above all, artists making remarkable work. I came across a deeply layered and vibrant art scene, notably a thriving contemporary art community, even in the face of the kind of economic and gentrification pressures afflicting a lot of other major creative centers. My trip looks different to me from the perspective of a month into the age of Trump. I see my experience of the Denver art scene in a new darker light. For it looks like like we're about to experience an assault out of Washington on the NEA, the NEH, the CPB, and a general hostility to culture and the arts. The people in charge seem to have culture in their cross hairs. What I saw in Denver I now see as something about to go under siege - and, conversely, something to cherish, protect, and nurture.
This Denver photo diary is in several posts, starting with a visit to the Clyfford Still Museum. After which: a studio/home visit with Trine Bumiller; studio visits with Derrick Velasquez and other Denver-based artists, at the Tank studios, and at Redline Contemporary Art Center; exhibitions by Stephen Westfall and Don Voisine at Robischon, and other facets of a vibrant Denver arts culture.
Clyfford Still Museum
The Clyfford Still Museum is an astonishing place; a majestic repository and showcase of the artist's work. The current hanging was done by longtime Still fan Julian Schnabel, who drew from the many hundreds of paintings and other works stored in deep arrays of storage stacks (visible to visitors through glass walls). The works on display are regularly rotated; Schnabel's hanging is merely the most current of an ever-changing public presentation of Still's work. The first couple of rooms were especially fascinating to me, revealing Still's immersion and absorption of Surrealism and especially Surrealist Picasso. I visited the museum with artist and friend Trine Bumiller, long based in Denver, and whose studio and home collection we later visited.