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Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art Presents Colorado Art Survey IV Featuring the Denver Artists Guild

The Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art presents Colorado Art Survey IV, Featuring the Denver Artists Guild on view through April 23, 2011.

Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art continues to survey Colorado art history with this exhibition in Rooms I and II, from 1874 to 1993. Paintings are arranged by style in the smaller room: Traditional (Realism and Impressionism), Modernist Regionalism, Surrealism, Referential Abstraction and Pure Abstraction. Furniture is also arranged by style. In the larger room, Modernist paintings are shown. Consistent with our nationally known salon atmosphere, the Kirkland displays Colorado works along with the museum’s extensive collection of international decorative art.

Over half of the paintings—as well as photographs, a lithograph and sculptures—in these two rooms are by past members of the Denver Artists Guild [DAG]—one of the two oldest still-active fine art organizations in Colorado. The other is the Denver Art Museum, founded in 1893 as The Artists’ Club of Denver. Works by members of the Denver Artists Guild are marked by a small logo in these two rooms and throughout the Kirkland.

Formed in 1928, with 52 charter members, the DAG created a communal gathering of artistic minds. The principal founders Albert Bancroft, David Spivak and Dean Babcock realized that the creative talent in Denver, which was generally regarded as a provincial city at the time, was in great need of support. Although many renowned visiting artists passed through Colorado recording the scenic beauty, cowboy lifestyle and native inhabitants, the foundation of local arts and culture lacked focus. The formation of the DAG filled a void, providing social activities, lectures, classes, demonstrations and exhibition opportunities for a wide variety of artists in Denver.

The DAG attracted many esteemed Denver artists. Vance Kirkland, John Thompson, Allen True, Laura Gilpin, Arnold and Louise Rönnebeck, Paul K. Smith, Anne Van Briggle, Frank Vavra, Gladys Caldwell Fisher, Clarence Durham, and Robert Alexander Graham are some of the more illustrious original members. Until the early 1950s the group was closely aligned with Chappell House which became the Denver Art Museum in 1923—eventually directed by DAG members Arnold Rönnebeck (1929-29), Donald Bear (1934-1940) and Otto Bach (1944-1974).

Although Kirkland Museum’s collection mainly focuses on 19th- and 20th-century Colorado paintings, hundreds of artists have continued the original mandate set forth by the DAG founders. Denver Artists Guild changed its name in 1990 to the Colorado Artists Guild to encompass the talent across the entire state and is still a vibrant resource today.

This show emphasizes the DAG as a lead-up to the May 2011 exhibition at Kirkland Museum: 15 Colorado Artists. The 15 were modernists who broke away from the mainly traditional DAG in 1948 and they were given a landmark exhibition at the Denver Art Museum that year. They include Vance Kirkland, Frank Vavra, Angelo di Benedetto, William Sanderson, Mina Conant, John Billmyer and Paul K. Smith—all of whom have paintings currently on view at Kirkland Museum, some in their earlier, more traditional styles.

All art work is from the permanent collection of Kirkland Museum—except for the Van Briggle lamp and decorative tile (promised gifts from Pam McClary and Robert Rust) and the 22K gold-encrusted glass collection (loaned by Mike Horine). Many pieces have never been on public view.

Image: WOMAN WITH FLOWER IN HAIR, 1914-17, by David Spivak

Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art
1311 Pearl Street
Denver, CO 80203
Phone: 303-832-8576
E-Mail: [email protected]

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