What better subject to personify “dada”—an early 20th century, avant-garde art movement that defies classic rules and utilizes unconventional materials—than children?

Denver painter and chalk artist Naomi Haverland is known for her whimsical portraits. In her most recent collection, “The New Masters of DADA,” Haverland has turned her attention to children, who have not yet adopted the notion that art needs to have meaning. Haverland’s work in this series is playful, bright—and doesn’t necessarily make sense. It’s not supposed to.

Each painting in the series started as a photograph. Haverland invited young subjects to explore different props (sunglasses, crowns, toys), and snapped stills of them displaying different facial expressions. She then chose one image or combined elements from several to create her paintings.

Haverland works solely with acrylics but has recently been exploring textures through oil-based paints. Haverland has a way of seeing and appreciating color and dynamic shading, even down to the flesh tones and the way light touches the skin of her subjects. She hopes her work will not only make visitors smile, but also shed a light onto the way we view things. As for the children she worked with and those who will see her work, she wants to inspire them to recognize that art doesn’t always need to be serious—it can be light and fun.

“The New Masters of DADA” is Haverland’s first showing in more than two years, and will be on display at Helikon Gallery & Studios until February 24 as part of a dual exhibit, showased alongside the multiple-artist series, “Opiates For The Masses.”

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