Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
Visit Kirkland Museum Collections Exhibitions Events Membership Volunteer Gift Shop Contact Kirkland Museum Blog Press Home
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art  
Past Exhibitions | Upcoming | Current


Click on an item in this list of past exhibitions to see more detail:

(Some are still under construction)

Artists of Colorado:

Photographs by Glenn Cuerden

September 3 through November 10, 2013

Glenn Cuerden (b. 1937) has been active in the Colorado advertising marketplace since 1960 and a fine art photographer since 1968. During this time he has photographed many members of the Colorado arts community, including Vance Kirkland. To coincide with the release of his book, Artists of Colorado, and an accompanying exhibition of photographic portraits at the Denver Public Library's Central Library, 5th Floor, Kirkland Museum is showing eleven portraits of artists represented in the museum’s permanent collection. Work by all eleven artists is on view in the museum.



  • Eric Bransby (b. 1916), printmaker and muralist
  • Susan Cooper (b. 1947), sculptor and painter
  • Glenn Cuerden (b. 1937), photographer
  • Carroll Hansen (b. 1936), sculptor
  • Vance Kirkland (1904-1981), painter
  • Robert Mangold (b. 1930), sculptor
  • Phyllis Hutchinson Montrose (b. 1928), painter
  • Charles Parson (b. 1948), sculptor
  • Clark Richert (b. 1941), painter
  • Elizabeth Yanish Shwayder (b. 1922), sculptor
  • David Yust (b. 1939), painter

In Thin Air–The Art of

Phyllis Hutchinson Montrose

 The work of Colorado surrealist painter Phyllis Montrose 

May 3 to July 14, 2013 

Extended to July 21, 2013

Co-curated by Hugh Grant, Founding Director, and Christopher Herron, Collections Manager & Deputy Curator, with 

Maya Wright, Exhibition Coordinator & Researcher

Over dinner when Hugh Grant asked Phyllis Hutchinson Montrose why she thought there were so many extraordinary surrealist artists in Colorado, she replied, “Well Hugh!  It’s the altitude; the thin air; the lack of oxygen.  We’re all loopy.”  So what else could we do but title her exhibition, In Thin Air.  Phyllis is certainly one of the greatest surrealist painters we have had in Colorado and consequently she has made contributions to American art.  She is a Colorado native, born in 1928.  Kirkland Museum is proud to mount a 54-year retrospective of her career, with paintings and prints from 1946 to 2000—with an accompanying catalog reproducing all the works in the exhibition and additional paintings that have been sold and are not available for display. 

Download the press release about this exhibition HERE (PDF).

Colorado Art Survey VIII

November 23, 2012—April 21, 2013; Curator: Hugh Grant

Kirkland Museum continues to showcase the nationally important art history of Colorado, concentrating on a period from 1875 to about 1980, or traditional through modern styles. This exhibition, Colorado Art Survey VIII, draws from the museum’s unparalleled and still growing collection of 4,870 works of art by 505 Colorado artists.   Colorado artists have distinguished themselves in many media including painting, sculpture (both metal and ceramic), prints, functional ceramics, textile, enamel and furniture—all of which will be on view.  Any state would be fortunate to have many of Colorado’s artists.

Kirkland Museum Modern vignette featuring paintings by Colorado artists (l-r) Sushe Felix, Phyllis Montrose, Gene Matthews, Dave Yust, Charles Bunnell and Watson Bidwell.  Furtniture (l-r): Armchair (1960s) by Jens Quistgaard; Nesting Tables (c.1952) by Ico Parisi; Bauer Lamp (1945-6) by Russel Wright, Tulip Chair (c. 1960) by Estelle & Erwine Laverne; Wilhelmiina Chair & Ottoman (1959) by Ilmari Tapiovaara.


Download the press release about this exhibition HERE (PDF).

William Joseph: Sculptor and Painter

Friday, September 14, 2012 through Sunday, November 11, 2012

Co-curated by Hugh Grant, Founding Director, and Christopher Herron, Collections Manager & Deputy Curator

During his 56-year artistic career, Denver native William (Bill) Joseph (1926-2003) created hundreds of sculptures, paintings, prints and drawings, and executed a number of high-profile public art commissions in the Rocky Mountain region. He was also a lifelong educator, teaching at the Denver Art Museum (1948-51), the University of Denver (1950-52) and Loretto Heights College (1957-88). This exhibition features highlights from his career.

A catalog is available for purchase.

Colorado Art Survey VII

April 7, 2012—September 2, 2012

Curated by Hugh Grant, Founding Director & CuratorNational Significance of the Colorado Collection

Kirkland Museum unveils a new exhibition as it continues to survey the nationally important art history of Colorado. Our visitors last year—from 37 foreign countries and 49 states—were fascinated to see Colorado art in depth, which they had not seen anywhere else. Drawing from the museum’s unparalleled and still growing collection of 4,870 works of art by 501 Colorado artists (202 are women), three of Kirkland Museum’s Colorado art exhibitions have received articles in American Art Review magazine. The first article in 2006 by New Jersey art professor Carol Cruickshanks stated, “The scope of Colorado art is now more widely acknowledged through the curatorial efforts of Hugh Grant and the staff of Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art. By identifying, researching, acquiring and preserving, and in some cases rediscovering more than two hundred artists, this collection with its accessibility, remains one of the most comprehensive sources of appreciating the growth of the modern movement in America.”

48% Newly Acquired or Not Recently Exhibited

Colorado Art Survey VII features 160 paintings, prints and drawings by 128 artists, of which 54 works (34%) have never been shown at Kirkland Museum and another 22 works (14%) have been off view for over a year or more—all from the permanent collection. Works in this exhibition date from 1875 to 2006. Most of the ones not previously shown are new acquisitions in the last seven months, since the last Colorado Art Survey (August 2011—November 2011), indicating our commitment to find and collect as many quality Colorado works as possible. A balanced presentation of painting styles of Colorado art is given with works ranging from Traditional (Realism and Impressionism), to Regionalism, Surrealism, Referential Abstraction and Pure Abstraction. Kirkland Museum shows virtually no contemporary style art—because several Colorado museums and many galleries specialize in that era—and hence most works are prior to 1980. The ones after 1980 are done in a modern and not contemporary style.

Indians on the Platte River, 1888, by Charles Stewart Stobie (1845-1931), Oil on canvas, Collection of Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art.


Colorado Art Showcased by a Variety of Artistic Media

In addition to the works in this special exhibition, Colorado sculptures of metal (71) and ceramic (64), as well as Colorado functional ceramics, furniture, textiles, tableware, enamel and a retrospective of Vance Kirkland works demonstrate why the reputation of Colorado art is growing. In all, 688 works by 234 Colorado artists will be on view, with many remaining on virtually constant view because of their significance to Colorado art history—for instance the pottery of Artus and Anne Van Briggle, William Long, Paul Soldner, Betty Woodman, Donna Marecak, Jim and Nan McKinnell; metal sculpture by Edgar Britton, Bob Mangold, Bill Joseph, Arnold Rönnebeck and Dorothea Greene Dunlop; paintings by Vance Kirkland, Herbert Bayer, Charles Partridge Adams, Birger Sandzén, Robert Reid, Charles Bunnell, Edward Marecak, Al Wynne, William Sanderson, Nadine Drummond and many more.

Sharing the Collections Through Many Loans

Curator Hugh Grant has concentrated on building the permanent collections of Kirkland Museum because when Colorado works, particularly, are sold into private collections—and dealers rarely reveal their clients—the works generally become unavailable to borrow for exhibition. Furthermore, Kirkland Museum has now loaned to 52 institutions in 16 different towns and cities in Colorado; 27 institutions in 18 states; and 16 institutions in 11 foreign countries. The Kirkland collections are therefore not only seen at this museum but in many other venues. Currently the Kirkland has 14 works of Colorado art by Vance Kirkland, Maynard Tischler and Martha Daniels on loan to the Denver Art Museum; and 2 sculptures on loan to the Robert Mangold retrospective at Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities. This May we are scheduled to loan the Denver Public Library works for the Colorado Murals exhibition and also the Anne Evans exhibition. From our Decorative Art Collection, Washington State University just returned a chair designed by Seattle architect Jim Olson. In addition, we have a formal request from the Milwaukee Art Museum for two loans of Bauhaus ceramics by Margarete Heymann-Loebenstein Marks, and will be loaning some of our Wiener Werkstätte collection to the Seattle Art Museum.


The Visitor, 1965, by Phyllis Hutchinson Montrose (b. 1928), Oil on canvas, Collection of Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art.


Unconventional Museum Experience

The three principal collections make the Kirkland unique, and the unusual method of display further sets the museum apart nationally. The Colorado Collection and Vance Kirkland Collection are always displayed in salon style with the International Decorative Art Collection. This provides a unique museum experience to visitors with fine art being shown in the same galleries with decorative art. Comparative displays are done with more than one art style in a gallery and vignettes are often arranged with vintage furniture along with a period radio, lamp and phone, as if you had walked into a person’s home. Director and curator Hugh Grant was invited to give a power point presentation at Bard Graduate Center in Manhattan in 2010 about how he developed and is still developing Kirkland Museum and its individual method of display.


Colorado Art is Distinguished in America

It would be nice to show any state’s art but Colorado has a notable art history that places it high among the 50 states, probably in the top ten—and it is therefore of national importance. The beauty of the Rocky Mountains initially brought Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, George Caleb Bingham, Worthington Whittredge, Frederick Remington and others to Colorado in the 1800s. Very few states have had that early attention by illustrious artists. The founding of the Broadmoor Art Academy in 1919 brought other well-known artists such as Ernest Lawson, Robert Reid, John Carlson, Adolf Dehn, Otis Dozier, Henry Varnum Poor, Arnold Blanch, Birger Sandzén and many others. When Vance Kirkland became the founder of the present School of Art at the University of Denver in 1929, he encouraged modern art forms, retiring in 1969. The formation of the 15 Colorado Artists in 1948 and their break with the more traditional Denver Artists Guild, demonstrates how progressive our state had become by then. In addition to Colorado Springs and Denver, artists in Aspen, Boulder, Ft. Collins, Greeley, Trinidad, and many other places, have made major contributions to the art history of Colorado—all and more displayed at Kirkland Museum. Our state has hosted significant visiting artists, has become home to numerous other important artists, and continues to have a vibrant art history. Many of these artists are in this exhibition and they are a dynamic, prestigious element of our state. Any state would be fortunate to have these artists.

Colorado Abstract Expressionism from Kirkland Museum

November 11, 2011 to February 5, 2012 Extended through April 1, 2012

Curated by Hugh Grant, Founding Director & Curator of Kirkland Museum

Significant Abstract Expressionism was not limited to New York and San Francisco. In this exhibition, Colorado artists are recognized for their contributions to perhaps America’s most important art movement, one that moved the art capital of the world from Paris to New York. This survey is not comprehensive, as space limitation necessitated omissions. The works on display are all from the permanent collection of Kirkland Museum.

~The New York Scene~

It is a matter of debate exactly how to define Abstract Expressionism. The two seminal art critics for this subject, Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg, did not agree. Looking just at the so-called “New York School”—one has the drip paintings of Jackson Pollock; the jagged lines of Clyfford Still; the luminous squares of Mark Rothko; the nightmarish women by Willem de Kooning; the “Zips” (paintings) of Barnett Newman (with vertical lines against a color field background); the monumental black calligraphic lines against white canvas of Franz Kline; the black forms against various colored backgrounds of Robert Motherwell (of his 172 paintings titled Elegy to the Spanish Republic beginning in 1949); with additional distinctive paintings by Arshile Gorky, Adolph Gottlieb, Philip Guston, Ad Reinhardt and others. It is also a matter of debate when Abstract Expressionism started. It has been generally accepted that when Pollock did his first drip painting in late 1947, it launched the movement. But with the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver revealing many of that artist’s works for the first time, it appears that Still may have been engaging in Abstract Expressionism as early as 1944. But wait, Hans Hofmann was also doing drip-like paintings about 1943 to 1944, although it is thought that he went back and pre-dated some of his paintings. Despite these lively, ongoing discussions, Abstract Expressionism was so powerful, so fresh, so tantalizing, that it propelled these disparate, individual careers, each as vital as the others. At the core of the movement, the artists poured out their emotions onto canvas. The paintings are mostly pure abstraction where texture, color, line and form convey feelings, purposely or unconsciously. References to subjects, if any, are not carefully delineated or deliberately rendered, but appear as if dream-like or coming from a spontaneous reaction to something. Vague memories, either pleasant or dreadful, are perhaps expressed. For instance a color field painting can be soothing or agitating or exciting. Although Abstract Expressionism has been dominated by painters, there have also been contributions to the movement by sculptors. David Smith started in the late 1940s to construct steel sculptures which can relate to Abstract Expressionism, as did Ibram Lassaw in the 1950s, with Anthony Caro and Mark di Suvero into the early 1960s. Some of the best known abstract expressionist painters created sculptures including Barnett Newman who completed six, such as the famous Broken Obelisk of 1963, now floating on a pool in front of the Rothko Chapel in Houston; also de Kooning doing bronzes in the 1970s. Abstract Expressionism shook the art world and it has never been the same since.

~The California Scene~

California had a considerable number of abstract expressionist artists but they did not band together in a formal group, just as the New York School was only loosely associated. Hans Hofmann taught the summers of 1930 and 1931 at the University of California, Berkeley. Clyfford Still moved to the East Bay area near San Francisco in 1941 and received a little noticed one-man show in 1943 at the San Francisco Museum of Art. The museum even misspelled his name on the gallery wall as “Clifford Stills”. He had been working in the local shipyards, but was given a teaching position at the California School of Fine Arts in the fall of 1946, where he taught until the fall of 1950 when he moved to New York. In 1947, Still was given a second one-man show at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, which was greeted with great acclaim and he became a lasting influence on California art. Mark Rothko was given a one-man show at the San Francisco Museum of Art in the summer of 1946. He was also invited to teach at the California School of Fine Arts, which he did for the summers of 1947 and 1949.

Other significant artists working in San Francisco who espoused Abstract Expressionism include Richard Diebenkorn, Sam Francis, Elmer Bischoff, Edward Corbett, Sonia Gechtoff, Frank Lobdell, George Stillman and others.

The Expanding Universe, 1959, by Vance Kirkland, Collection of Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

~The Colorado Scene~

Colorado had a brush with the New York School when Clyfford Still taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder during the summer session of 1960. Abstract expressionist painters in Colorado have been located in numerous cities and towns. Colorado Springs had a particularly strong group including Charles Bunnell, George Cecil Carter, Mary Chenoweth, Ken Goehring, Harvey Litvack (also in Boulder), Elise Train, Emerson Woelffer and Al Wynne. In Denver, artists such as Jack Canepa, Dale Chisman, Roland Detre, Nadine Drummond, Ania Gola-Kumor, Charles “Bill” Hayes, Vance Kirkland, Pawel Kontny, Roger Kotoske, Clark Richert (also in Trinidad and Boulder), Beverly Rosen, Craig Marshall Smith, Ruth Todd, Jeff Wenzel, Ann Sink White and others have made distinguished contributions. In Boulder, Helen Davis, Virginia Maitland, Gene Matthews and Amy Metier have given us unique abstract expressionist works, as have Watson Bidwell in Greeley, Mel Strawn in Salida and Dave Yust in Ft. Collins. After one gets beyond the who-was-first puzzle, it is just as fascinating to consider which artists took the ideas of Abstract Expressionism and expressed them eloquently, regardless of when they did it. For that reason I have gone beyond the 1950s and 1960s to expand the interpretations of Abstract Expressionism. It is a deep enough well from which to continue to draw, and to gain further adherents. Abstract Expressionism wasn’t just a movement; it was a phenomenon and continues to entice artists into its distinguished ranks. The best artists are not imitating anyone; they have taken its philosophy and made it their own.

Unusual media and methods can be found in this exhibition. Vance Kirkland developed two resist techniques, the first using mixtures of watercolor and denatured alcohol starting in 1950; the second using mixtures of oil paint and water starting in 1953. Ruth Todd did paintings using sawdust (mid 1950s). Collage was used by Mary Chenoweth (1950s), George Cecil Carter (1950s), Clark Richert (1962) and Jeff Wenzel (2002). Wall sculptures with bamboo rods were used by Roger Kotoske (late 1950s-early 1960s). Pawel Kontny used marble dust (early 1970s). Charles “Bill” Hayes guided some 60 thinned layers of acrylic across each of his canvases with rubber window squeegees (1980s).

Colorado has sculptors that have worked in ways that relate to Abstract Expressionism. Edgar Britton did some pure abstractions such as his Horizontal Squares (c. 1959, with myriads of platelets of metal connected with small metal rods into a 21½” high sculpture); Yin and Yang (1964) for the bank at First Avenue and St. Paul St. in Denver; Genesis (c. 1967) bronze for the Antler’s Plaza in Colorado Springs; and others. Bob Mangold did a series of steel shapes with a puddled bronze patina over them such as Cat Box (1964); around 1966 he fabricated sculptures of steel rods welded together in various pure abstract shapes; his wind driven Anemotive series, starting in the 1960s, when colors are mixed in unexpected ways as the painted pieces move; his PTTSAAES (Point Traveling Through Space At An Erratic Speed) beginning in the mid-1990s. Abstract expressionist painter Al Wynne did metal constructions such as Untitled (1967, 66½” high); Untitled (late 1960s, 50” high) and Stop! Go 3 (1970s, kinetic sculpture, 21” h). James Dixon, when making bronze sculptures, sometimes casts the slurry which is left as a residue of the casting process, incorporating the accidental textures into his works such as Commitment (1996) and Patrick Sketch (2006); other Dixon sculptures have many rods put together in random ways, making all-over patterns. Other Colorado sculptors working in strong, idiosyncratic ways in metal and acrylic include Robert Delaney, Dorothea Dunlop, Barbara Locketz, David Mazza, Chuck Parson, Elizabeth Yanish Shwayder and Carley Warren. Ceramic sculptor Carroll Hansen did clay stepped sculptures in the 1960s; also minimal, nonobjective bronze sculptures in the 1960s; and has fabricated and placed clay strips and forms together since the 1980s. Paul Soldner is well known for his spontaneous ceramic (raku) sculptures.

With their inventive techniques and original images of Abstract Expressionism, Colorado artists have enriched modern art.

Liberty of London and Archibald Knox  

September 16 to January 15, 2012 Extended through February 13, 2012

Curated by Hugh Grant, Founding Director & Curator of Kirkland Museum

In May of 1899, London’s Liberty & Co. launched their new line of silver and jewelry with a catalog and exhibition at the store. Founded in 1875 and still in business today, Liberty was a retail emporium for imported fabrics, metalware, and home furnishings, as well as work by local Arts & Crafts artists.

Archibald Knox (1864-1933) was born, died and lived mainly on the Isle of Man—in the Irish Sea, between Great Britain and Ireland (under Viking, Scottish and now English sovereignty). He became one of Liberty’s principal designers from 1899 to 1905, although his designs continued to be manufactured until at least 1908 or even perhaps 1910. In addition to metalwork, he designed jewelry, textiles and ceramics for Liberty. Knox was also an accomplished watercolorist and educator.

Due to Knox’s artistic inventiveness and the wide distribution of Liberty & Co., his designs became deservedly renowned, although he received no recognition for them at the time. Liberty insisted on complete anonymity for their designers, because they wanted the company, and not the designers, to be known for their products. However, it has been established through his drawings that most of these works are designed by Knox.

Knox’s metal designs were produced in both Tudric (pewter) and Cymric (silver)—often inlaid with enamel and sometimes semi-precious cabochon gems. Contrary to leaving pewter in its dull, natural patina, Liberty’s pewter was polished at the time and was considered a poor person’s silver. Knox’s designs show the influence of Celtic patterns and Art Nouveau curves. The terms Tudric and Cymric were invented to seem like ancient Celtic names.


Archibald Knox made significant contributions to British Art Nouveau, along with Charles Ashbee, William Morris, Arthur Macmurdo, C.F.A. Voysey, William Hutton, Alexander Fisher and others. These and other artists are the reason that the greatest achievements in the history of design from the British Isles occurred during the Middle Ages, Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau periods. Certainly England had some important Art Deco designers such as Clarice Cliff, Susie Cooper and others for Shelley Pottery and Carlton Ware, but not on the scale of the former periods.

Only a few other museums in the world consistently show Art Nouveau metal pieces by Liberty & Co., including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Bröhan Museum, Berlin; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Manx Museum, Isle of Man. Kirkland Museum has consistently displayed about 25 Liberty metal works. Liam O’Neill, chairman of the Archibald Knox Society on the Isle of Man, believes that the Kirkland therefore has the largest collection of Knox designed Liberty metalware, on public view, of any museum worldwide. This temporary exhibition, Liberty of London & Archibald Knox, has 60 works including metal (7 sterling silver, 48 pewter), jewelry (4) and a large ceramic jardinière. Most of these works are designed by Knox. Fifty-three of the works are in this case and on the table behind it; seven of the pewter works are shown in the case facing the front door in the museum foyer. The Liberty objects were produced in England—one of 39 countries represented in Kirkland Museum’s decorative art collection.

Extensive exhibitions of Knox and Liberty & Co. only began to be done with the 1995 show at the New York commercial gallery Historical Design Inc. Then a 1996 exhibition was given at Middlesex University, London. The first international traveling exhibition was organized and curated by Stephen A. Martin and Mark Turner from1996 to1998, appearing at the Hunterian Art Gallery (University of Glasgow), Delaware Art Museum, Phoenix Museum of Art, The Huntington (San Marino CA, near Pasadena) and The Smart Museum (University of Chicago).

Archibald Knox Lecture: 

Kirkland Museum was the first stop on the lecture tour of Liam O’Neill, chairman of the Archibald Knox Society (located on the Isle of Man).

Colorado Art Survey VI

August 25 to November 6, 2011

Kirkland Museum will be displayed with works from our permanent collection of Colorado paintings and sculpture, showing the breadth of Colorado's art history and including never-before-seen works. Curated by Hugh Grant, Founding Director & Curator of Kirkland Museum.

Time Travel—Decorative Art from Kirkland Museum

100+ Years of International Decorative Art

June 9 - August 28, 2011

Co-curated by Kirkland Museum Founding Director & Curator Hugh Grant and Kirkland Museum Registrar & Collections Manager Christopher Herron


at the Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities, Main Gallery

6901 Wadsworth Blvd. Arvada, Colorado 80003

Open Monday–Friday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Closed July 4),

Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Admission is Free

American Art Deco furniture. Collection of Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art.

Be sure to visit the Arvada Center this summer to see international decorative art from the Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Wiener Werkstätte, Bauhaus, International Style, Art Deco, Modern, Post-Modern and Contemporary styles. Much like our previous “100+ Years of Colorado Art” partnership, the Arvada Center and Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art will present objects from Kirkland Museum’s extensive collection. This will be the largest decorative art exhibition from the Kirkland Museum collection that has ever been shown outside the museum. 


Modern furniture, including Mysteries of the Orient by Vance Kirkland, 1962. Collection of Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art.

“From Kirkland Museum's international decorative art collection of over 15,000 objects, we have chosen works from the major design movements of the 20th century, allowing you to travel back in time at the Arvada Center. Furniture and other decorative art, along with paintings, are displayed salon style-making it look as if you just walked into someone's home. For this show, we have created vignettes and accessorized them by adding radios, phones, lamps and other vintage household objects," says Hugh Grant, Founding Director & Curator, Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art. Christopher Herron, Registrar & Collections Manager at Kirkland Museum, is co-curator of Time Travel—Decorative Art from Kirkland Museum.

15 Colorado Artists—Breaking With Tradition

May 6 – July 31, 2011 EXTENDED through August 14, 2011

Co-curated by Hugh Grant and Deborah Wadsworth

Burlesque, 1947, by Angelo di Benedetto

It was creeping inexorably across America—modern art! An alarm was sounded by Rocky Mountain News columnist Lee Casey on 11 February 1948:  “The influence of decadent Parisians…Picasso and Cezanne…has even been felt in the West. Santa Fe has been damaged by it and Denver has not wholly escaped the blight….In Western art, Western literature and bourbon, I’ll take mine straight.”

Denver newspaper articles trumpeted the conflict between "conservative" and "radical" artists. The debate climaxed in 1948 with the break from the 20-year-old Denver Artists Guild. A group of rebels joined with colleagues to form a modernist group called 15 Colorado Artists. The departure and formation of the 15 Colorado Artists was led by a cadre of professors at the University of Denver who believed that the boundaries of art must be explored and that the DAG was too provincial for their taste. Debates in meetings and in the newspapers had people lining up on both sides of the fence. 

Were they radicals? Or, were the artists that broke from the DAG riding the modernist wave that had already been sweeping the country? You can form your own opinion about the modernist movement in Denver at Kirkland Museum of Decorative & Fine Art’s exhibition, 15 Colorado ArtistsBreaking with Tradition. Original artwork of the founding members of this modernist group, some from their first exhibit launched in December of 1948, are on view. Never-before-seen vintage photos of the artists and reproductions of the newspapers where much of the modernist debate in Denver was hashed out will also be displayed.

The founding members of 15 Colorado Artists in 1948 are: Don F. Allen, John Billmyer, Marion Buchan, Jean Charlot, Mina Conant, Angelo di Benedetto, Eo (Eva Lucille) Kirchner, Vance Kirkland, Moritz Krieg,Duard Marshall, Louise Emerson Ronnebeck, William Sanderson, Paul K. Smith, J. Richard Sorby, and Frank Vavra

Download the press release by clicking HERE (PDF).

Denver Artists Guild (Colorado Art Survey V) (2010-2011)

The Furniture of Eero Saarinen: Designs for Everyday Living (2010)

The Kirkland Reinstalled (Colorado Art Survey) (2010)

Kirkland Museum Collection:100+ Years of Colorado Art at the Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities, Arvada, CO (later travelled to the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art) (2010)

Streams of Modernism (2009-2010)

Colorado Moderns: Selections from the Kirkland Museum at the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center, Pueblo, CO (2009)

Colorado Art Before, During and After the Magafan Twins (2009)

Colorado Abstract: Paintings and Sculpture (2009)

Wynne / Wynne: The Art of Al and Lou Wynne

Thursday, October 2, 2008 through Sunday, January 4, 2009. (later travelled to the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art)


Colorado artists Albert G. Wynne (b. 1922 in Colorado Springs) and Louise Wynne (b. 1930 in Burlington, Iowa) have been exhibiting art for over half a century. Abstract painter Al Wynne went to the University of Denver, where he studied art with Colorado artists John E. Thompson, Watson Bidwell and Vance Kirkland. He also studied at Iowa’s Wesleyan College and the University of Iowa. Al has taught art for over thirty years, from grade school to the university level.

 Ceramist Lou Wynne attended Iowa Wesleyan College and later did graduate level work in ceramics, printmaking, painting and sculpture at multiple universities including the University of Iowa and on University of Colorado campuses in Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs. The pair married in 1951 and moved to Colorado Springs in the early 1960s. The Wynne’s work can be found in many collections throughout America including the private collection of General Colin Powell, as well as the collections of the University of Denver and Kirkland Museum. 

Wynne / Wynne gathered together the works of Al and Lou Wynne from numerous public and private collections, including the collection of the artists.

A catalog for the exhibition is available for purchase.

Colorado Art Survey (2008)

Florence Knoll: Defining Modern (2008)

Driven To Abstraction (Colorado Art Survey) (2007-2008)

Marecak Diptych (2007)

From Framing to Furnishings (2006-2007)

60 Years of Colorado Modernism, 1915-1975 (2006-2007)

Colorado Modernists (Colorado Art Survey II) (2006)

Vavra Triptych (2006)

The Centennial of William Sanderson (2005-2006)

Modern Clay in Denver (2005)

Inaugural Public Exhibition (2003)


Kirkland Museum

Studio Workroom