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“Lighter Relieving A Steamboat Aground: Cracking Jokes And Drinking While Everyone’s Trying To Be Art Serious,” by Shawn Huckins

5 Colorado Artists To Collect Now

It’s time to buy your artwork from the Mile High City’s community of talented artists. Five art experts tell you whose work they’re loving right now.

Colorado, you already get your veggies from a CSA, shop for your snowboards at Weston, and drink small-batch, Denver-made craft brews. It’s time to get local when you buy your art, too, because the Mile High City’s community of talented artists is diverse and growing—which is both good and bad news. On one hand, there are so many compelling pieces to choose from; on the other, it’s tough to know where to start. To help you in your quest, we asked a few local art experts—a gallerist, a museum curator, and two art consultants—to share some of their favorite Centennial State artists of the moment. Whether you’re a veteran art buyer or collecting newbie, the following names should be on your radar.

1. Shawn Huckins 

The Expert: Ann Benson Reidy, Ann Benson Reidy & Associates

What do the Digital Revolution and the American Revolution have in common? It sounds like the beginning of a cringe-worthy joke, but for Denver-based artist Shawn Huckins, the question has sparked intriguing (and hilarious) oil paintings. “I thought that was a very interesting concept, to combine our new way of communicating with high society from the past,” he says. “The irony between the two worlds is fascinating to me.” That paradox is particularly striking in recent works: portraits of notable colonials (think: George Washington and Thomas Jefferson) overlaid with white text reading “LOL” and “SRSLY.” Since moving to Denver five years ago, Huckins has crafted these tongue-in-cheek images of 18th-century pioneers and Western landscape scenes for his Goodwin Fine Art show The American _tier. Ann Benson Reidy, a Denver-based art consultant who works with private collectors and corporations, loves how Huckins’ art can be interpreted as funny or serious. “His work is incredibly contemplative,” she says. “And it’s political but still humorous…. Plus, he’s an amazingly skilled painter.” 

(available through Goodwin Fine Art)

2. Anna Kaye

The Expert: Bobbi Walker, Walker Fine Art

If you live in Colorado, you’re familiar with the idea of a summer wildfire season. But for local artist Anna Kaye, who grew up in Michigan, the idea of cyclical fires was intriguing and new. In her charcoal-and-graphite drawings and watercolors, as well as time-lapse videos, Kaye depicts animals and plants in the process of recovering after a blaze. After seeing an exhibition of her fire-inspired work, gallerist Bobbi Walker was particularly struck by her use of charcoal. “Anna Kaye’s execution is flawless, and her message heartfelt,” she says. The artist’s stark black-and-white images perfectly depict the destruction caused by natural disasters, but her lifelike—and occasionally colorful—flora and fauna highlight the resilience of nature. “That’s what inspires me,” Kaye says. “After a big fire, you can watch species come back. They push through the obstacles and eventually thrive.” And, because she donates a portion of her proceeds to the Colorado State Forest Service, helping to conserve the natural beauty of the Centennial State is as easy as buying one of her drawings for your home.

(available through Sandra Phillips Gallery)

3. Joel Swanson

The Expert: Katherine Sharp, Nine Dot Arts

All day, nonstop, language and technology intersect (#amiright?), and that sweet spot is exactly where Joel Swanson loves to create. “I think a lot about words and how the technologies we use to inscribe words shape our meanings and affect communication,” says the artist, who creates digital art, sculpture, and interactive installations. His work ranges from heartwarming (an exhibition of words cut from handwritten letters) to thought-provoking (prints of spacebars that urge viewers to consider the idea of “space and pauses” in the Digital Age). Curator Katherine Sharp, who has worked at the Denver-based art-consulting firm Nine Dot Arts for several years, believes Swanson is taking a smart and innovative approach to a familiar topic. “He encourages you to look at language in an entirely new way, even though you see words all the time,” she says. “I think what he does is really fascinating.”

(available at David B. Smith Gallery)

4. Molly Berger 

The Expert: Zoe Larkins, MCA Denver

When ceramic artist Molly Berger started college in Pennsylvania, she had never even touched clay, but a senior-year ceramics class was such a satisfying experience that Berger was hooked. Since then, she’s completed residences at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village and the Carbondale Clay Center—with the goal of refining her craft and using it to explore ideas of utility and beauty: Some of her exhibits have featured ceramic objects that resemble, but aren’t quite, tools and utensils. The installations encourage viewers to consider the ways in which precious memories cling to otherwise unremarkable things. Museum of Contemporary Art Denver assistant curator Zoe Larkins was particularly taken by Berger’s exhibition for Black Cube last year. “There’s an intimate quality to her works…but there’s also an element of the uncanny, a surrealism to them,” she says. In addition to these installations, Berger makes functional tableware using the pinch-and-coil method. Her cups, mugs, and plates are elegant but retain a rustic quality—in part because her fingerprints are visible on the finished products. “I leave evidence of my hands on the clay because I think the marks from my fingers add a sense of warmth to the finished objects,” she says.

 (available through Artstream Nomadic Gallery)

5. Jane Guthridge

The Expert: Bobbi Walker

If hiking a fourteener is your idea of a relaxing afternoon, Jane Guthridge’s nature-inspired artwork is sure to resonate with you. “Being out in nature always brings people such peace and joy. I want to bring that feeling inside with my art,” she says. To accomplish this goal, she uses materials that interact with natural light. In her encaustic pieces, for example, she saturates lightweight mulberry paper with multiple layers of paint to create a translucent look, while her hanging Dura-Lar installations reflect and shimmer as the light hits them. Bobbi Walker gives Guthridge kudos for her pursuit of the ethereal. “Jane’s use of translucent mediums captures nature in the Colorado light like no one else,” Walker says. So even if you can’t trek in the mountains every day, her work might give you some of the tranquility you seek.

(available through Space Gallery)

Shop Smarter

New collectors, take note: Our experts have a few tips for art-buyers.

Noteworthy Names

All of these Colorado artists have earned our experts’ stamp of approval.

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