Colorado & Regional Art

Kirkland Museum is an important repository for Colorado’s art history and some regional art. The collection contains works by more than 800 Colorado artists, including 320 women artists. The Colorado & regional art collection is concerned with a period from 1820 to about 1990 (traditional through modern), with an emphasis on the 1840s onwards.

Note: Not all of the artists mentioned below are part of Kirkland Museum’s collections.

Colorado’s Art Heritage

Colorado’s rich art heritage spans more than 200 years, preceded by the legacy of Native Americans living on the territory of what became the State of Colorado in 1876. The creative output of both its visiting and resident artists during the past two centuries belongs not only to the cultural legacy of the Rocky Mountain West, but also is part of the larger story of American art. A representative roster includes George Caleb Bingham, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, Frederick Remington, Frederick MacMonnies, Alexander Phimister Proctor, Robert Reid, John Carlson, Birger Sandzén, Ernest Lawson, Boardman Robinson, Ernest Fiene, Arnold Rönnebeck, Georgia O’Keeffe, Laura Gilpin, Janet Lippincott, Jackson Pollock, Max Beckmann, Emerson Woelffer, Robert Motherwell, Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, Jimmy Ernst, George Rickey and herbert bayer (purposely lowercase per bayer’s alphabet).

Colorado’s overwhelming physical beauty, more relaxed lifestyle and healthful climate attracted many American and foreign-born artists. They had studied at the Académie Julian, Académie de la Grand Chaumiere, École des Beaux-Arts, La Palette and the Académie Colarossi—all in Paris, as well as well-known American art institutions such as the Art Students League and Chase School (New York City), Boston Museum of Fine Arts School, Corcoran School of Art (Washington, DC), Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts School, Cleveland School of Art and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A number of these artists also educated succeeding generations, teaching at the University of Denver, University of Colorado at Boulder, Broadmoor Art Academy/Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, as well as local high schools and colleges.

Over the years, their work was shown in national juried exhibitions at the Sociéte des Artistes Français, Salon d’Automne and Salon des Indépendents in Paris, Victoria and Albert Museum (London), as well as at a number of prestigious American venues. A barometer of the acceptance of these artists’ Colorado-inspired work has been its inclusion in leading collections such as the Metropolitan Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art and Brooklyn Museum (New York); Corcoran Gallery of Art and Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, DC); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Detroit Institute of Arts; Art Institute of Chicago; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, Missouri); Amon Carter Museum of American Art (Fort Worth, Texas); Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art (Norman, Oklahoma) and the Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley.

Early 19th Century Colorado Art

Prior to the Civil War artists participated in government expeditions that explored the vast uncharted area west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains. In the summer of 1820 Samuel Seymour and Titian Ramsay Peale arrived in present-day Colorado with the expedition of Major Stephen H. Long, the namesake of Longs Peak near Estes Park. His was the first American expedition to include artists. Their views of the Rocky Mountains and present-day Roxborough State Park near Denver are in the collections of the Beinecke Library at Yale University, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Joslyn Art Museum (Omaha, Nebraska) and the Huntington Library (San Marino, California).

For the next three decades Major Long’s description of much of the area west of the Mississippi and east of the Rocky Mountains as “The Great American Desert” discouraged extensive travel and settlement in the area of Colorado. However, several other government expeditions visited the area in the 1840s and early 1850s exploring potential land and rail routes in the region that would connect to the Pacific Coast. The topographers/artists participating in these expeditions did prints of what have become some of the state’s well-recognized landmarks. The first published view of Pikes Peak by Prussian-born topographer Charles Preuss, a member of the 1843 Frémont expedition, appeared in its extensive report published in Washington, DC, in 1845. The following year James W. Abert, part of the 1845 Frémont expedition in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, produced a hand-colored lithograph of Wah-to-yah (Spanish Peaks, Colorado), now in the Huntington Library. A decade later, famous Indian painter and survey artist, John Mix Stanley, created lithographs of sites in southern Colorado based on the sketches and drawings of Richard H. Kern, killed in an Indian attack while on the 1853 Pacific Railroad Survey.

The Settlement of Colorado and Its Artists after the Gold Rush

The discovery of gold along Cherry Creek in Denver in 1858 and the ensuing Pikes Peak Gold Rush brought many new people to Colorado and sparked the development of the Mile High City and the mining towns in the nearby Rocky Mountains. The national publicity about the gold rush also generated interest in the region by artists. In 1861 Emanuel Leutze, a native of Germany, departed for the Colorado Rockies to gather material for his mural, Westword the Course of Empire Takes Its Way, now in The Smithsonian American Art Museum. Two years later his Dusseldorf Academy colleague, Albert Bierstadt, made the first of two trips to Colorado leading to the creation of a grand and impressive panoramic vision of Rocky Mountain scenery. Though faulted by some critics, his interpretation shaped the way many Americans and Europeans viewed the western wilderness during the balance of the 19th century. His canvases may have influenced New York-based artist, Hamilton Hamilton (painter of Thomas Moran’s portrait for the National Academy of Design), to undertake his first of several excursions in 1873 to sketch and paint in Colorado.

Following the Civil War, several Hudson River painters worked in Colorado. Worthington Whittredge made three trips, the first in 1866 with Major General John Pope on an inspection tour of Colorado Territory and New Mexico; the second in 1870 with fellow artists John Kensett and Sanford Gifford and the third by himself a year later. Kensett’s western work encouraged his colleague, John Casilear, to make a summer trip to Colorado in 1873. Fellow Hudson River school painter and inveterate traveler, Samuel Colman, sketched in various parts of Colorado during several of his western trips. In 1869 New York native Ralph Blakelock, a late exponent of the Hudson River school, gathered material for his later paintings of the mountains near Golden and elsewhere in the state. Colorado’s health benefits attracting many people, including artists, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries brought Missouri artist George Caleb Bingham to the Colorado Springs area in 1872 and occasioned his painting, View of Pikes Peak, now in the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas.

In the post-Civil War era national publications such as Harper’s Weekly, Leslie’s Weekly, The Aldine and others commissioned artists to produce explicit and accurate illustrations of the scenery and the exciting events in the distant western territories of great interest to their readership. In 1874 Thomas Moran, known as “The Turner of the West”, made his first trip to Colorado, commissioned to provide 13 illustrations for Picturesque America that included the celebrated Mount of the Holy Cross. Subsequent visits in 1876, 1881 and 1892 resulted in a sizable body of work rivaling Albert Bierstadt’s, including a striking painting, Mount of the Holy Cross (1875) shown in the United States Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. Other artists producing Colorado subject matter for national publications were French-born Jules Tavernier and Paul Frenzeny, Chicago-based James F. Gookins and Charles Graham.

In addition to visiting artists, after mid-century a number of professional artists took up residence in Denver and Colorado Springs, the two largest cities in the state at that time with a population and amenities to support their endeavors. The first was John D. Howland (1859) followed by Charles Stobie (1865), Alexis Comparet (1868), Richard Tallant (1870), Helen Henderson Chain (1871), Walter Paris (1871), John Harrison Mills (1872), Charles Partridge Adams (1876), Harvey Otis Young (1879), Charles Craig (1881) and William Bancroft (1881). The distinguished muralist, Allen Tupper True, was born in Colorado Springs in 1881.

Art Schools and Organizations

The increasingly settled character of Colorado in the latter half of the 19th century made it possible for more artists to make a living from their artwork and from teaching. Not long after the founding of Colorado Springs in 1871 by General William Palmer, artists Thomas C. and Anne Lodge Parrish (aunt and uncle of artist Maxfield Parrish) relocated from Philadelphia, joining with architect and artist, Frank T. Lent, to set up the town’s first art school modeled on the academies in the eastern United States and in Europe. In the early 1880s in Denver John Harrison Mills organized a short-lived School of Design housed in the Tabor Grand Opera House (16th & Curtis), built by mining tycoon, Horace Tabor.

In 1880 the University of Denver’s College of Music offered drawing and painting courses taught by Ida de Steiguer. She was the Dean of the College of Fine Arts (1883–1885), principal of the Department of Fine Arts (1884–1887) and later a teacher of art classes at the University of Denver’s Art School (1895). In 1895 English painter and teacher Henry Read opened his Students’ School of Art in downtown Denver, having relocated to the city from New York five years earlier. In 1910–1911 he constructed a freestanding building for his Students’ School of Art at 13th Avenue and Pearl Street, now part of Kirkland Museum and moved to Bannock Street.

The small, but growing number of artists in Denver and Colorado Springs led to the formation of art organizations in both cities. In 1876 John Harrison Mills organized the Academy of Fine Arts Association of Colorado in Denver, an informal organization of artists, architects and leading professionals. Supplementing its work was the Denver Sketch Club (1880) reorganized a year later as the Colorado Association. It was supplanted by several short-lived groups after the mid-1880s, including the Denver Art Club and the Denver Paint and Clay Club.

In 1891 Harriet Winslow Hayden and Emma Richardson Cherry spearheaded the Le Brun Club in Denver, the state’s first all-female art group. Named after the 18th-century French portraitist, Madame Vigée Lebrun, the group sought greater recognition and exhibition opportunities for the city’s women artists, including Henrietta Bromwell, Ida de Steiguer, Katherine Smalley and Elisabeth Spalding. Two years later Mrs. Cherry hosted a studio meeting resulting in the establishment of the Artists’ Club of Denver. Comprising thirteen charter members, its annual exhibitions attracted the participation of noted American artists outside Colorado such as William Merritt Chase, Arthur Davies, Robert Henri, Ernest Lawson, Robert Reid and J. Alden Weir, as well as a major showing of paintings by the Taos Society from neighboring New Mexico. In 1917 the Club became the Denver Art Association and the Denver Art Museum in 1923.

In 1912, Abigail Holman, who had studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, founded the Fine Arts Academy of Denver. It was superseded during World War I by the Denver Academy of Fine and Applied Arts whose faculty comprised several of the city’s leading professional artists, John E. Thompson, Robert A. Graham and David Spivak. In 1924 H.A.W. Manard renamed the academy the Chappell School of Art after its new location at Chappell House, which Chappell family members had donated in 1922 as the headquarters of the Denver Art Association in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Attracting the support of the community’s leading artists, the art school provided them with employment opportunities and helped to quickly establish its professional reputation. Faculty members included Laura Gilpin, Anne Van Briggle Ritter, Arnold Rönnebeck, David Spivak, Paul St. Gaudens and John E. Thompson.

Charlotte and Susan Leaming, alumnae of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, established the Colorado Springs Academy of Art in 1912. In addition to their pedagogical activities, they organized exhibitions of Colorado Springs artists in 1914 and 1915, resulting in the formation of the Colorado Springs Art Club that later united with the Colorado Springs Art Society.

In 1917, the University of Colorado at Boulder established its School of Art, initially housed in Old Main, which in the 20th century became an important regional art center. Within its first decade, the school’s faculty included Muriel V. Sibell Wolle, Frances Hoar (Trucksess) and her husband, Clement Trucksess, Gwendolyn Meux (Mrs. Gayle Waldrop) and Virginia True. After World War II the university’s Fine Arts Department developed a Creative Arts Program among whose visiting artists were German Expressionist Max Beckmann and New York-based abstractionists Paul Burlin, Jimmy Ernst (son of Max Ernst), Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still.

Modernism in Colorado

John E. Thompson who exhibited with the Denver Art Association, was the first modernist artist in Colorado, though his later works became more stylistically conservative. Born in Buffalo, New York, he studied in New York City and then in Europe from 1902 until the beginning of World War I where he saw the Paul Cézanne retrospective in Paris in 1907. After an initial trip to Colorado in 1914 he permanently returned to Denver in 1917, attracting his former Buffalo students, Józef Bakoś and Walter Mruk. Bakoś began teaching at the University of Colorado’s School of Art in Boulder in 1919. Two years later he and Mruk, along with Fremont Ellis, Willard Nash and Will Schuster, formed Santa Fe’s first modernist art group, Los Cinco Pintores (The Five Painters).

The Denver Armory Show—1919

A landmark exhibition held in April 1919 at the Denver Public Library occasioned a spirited debate in the local press about the merits of realism versus impressionism, mild fauvism and restrained cubism. Officially called the Twenty-fifth Annual Exhibition of the Denver Art Association (renamed the Denver Art Museum in 1923), the show quickly was dubbed the “Denver Armory Show”, a reference to the 1913 New York Armory Show that shocked America with the introduction of modern European art. Although the paintings in the Denver exhibition no longer appear particularly adventuresome, a century ago they provoked strong reactions from the press and the public. Headlines in the Rocky Mountain News blared “Bolshevism in Art” (April 17, 1919) and “Library Art Exhibit Called ‘Fraud’ and ‘Monstrosity’ by Two Writers” (April 20, 1919). The exhibition included John Thompson’s work together with that of his students Józef Bakoś and Walter Mruk. Among the participating artists were Gustave Bauman, George Elbert Burr, Emma Richardson Cherry, William Penhallow Henderson, B.J.O. Nordfeldt, Robert Reid, Henry Richter and Elisabeth Spalding.

Broadmoor Art Academy—Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

In 1919 the Broadmoor Art Academy was founded in Colorado Springs thanks to the patronage of Spencer and Julie Penrose, known for their connection with the Broadmoor Hotel. The academy represented their long-held dream of an art school emphasizing easel painting, but also functioning as a community support center for music, dance and theater. John Carlson and Robert Reid were recruited as the academy’s first instructors. Succeeding them in the 1920s were Birger Sandzén, Randall Davey, Willard Nash and Ernest Lawson. In 1935 the Academy evolved into the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. The local art colony became a major force in art instruction and national art activity under Boardman Robinson, an advocate of the American Regionalist style. He attracted well-known artists from outside the state, somewhat overshadowing Denver as an art center until the mid-1940s. The Center’s roster of distinguished teachers included Lawrence Barrett, George Biddle, Arnold Blanch, Edgar Britton, Adolf Dehn, Otis Dozier, Laura Gilpin, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Charles Wheeler Locke, Ward Lockwood, Frank Mechau and Henry Varnum Poor.

After World War II the Center’s influence gradually began to wane because its school was not attached to a degree-granting academic institution and the local community did not always wholly embrace the new wave of abstraction. Some of the teachers during that period were open to it, such as Jean Charlot, Mary Chenoweth and Emerson Woelffer. During his six years as head of the school’s painting department Woelffer invited well-known abstractionists Paul Burlin, Vaclav Vytlacil, Ludwik Sander and Robert Motherwell to teach summer courses. With the departure in 1956 of Woelffer and Director James B. Byrnes, formerly of the Los Angeles County Museum, the school lost its momentum. By the following year it had become the art department of Colorado College with Bernard Arnest as Director and Mary Chenoweth as one of the faculty members.

Artist Groups in Boulder and Denver—20th Century

The Art Association of Boulder was founded in 1923 by Mrs. Jean Sherwood, who relocated from Chicago to teach art at the Boulder Chautauqua and helped convince Dean Fred B.R. Hellems at the University of Colorado (CU) to set up the first art gallery on the campus in the 1920s. The Association, lasting until 1939 and reconstituted in 1958, was open to individuals interested in promoting the arts through lecture programs, art classes and exhibits. In 1926 the Art Association, together with University of Colorado Art Department and local artists, organized the Boulder Artists’ Guild. Limited to active artists, it included most of the city’s professional artists for more than half a century but is no longer active. In 1931 Muriel Sibell Wolle, Frances Hoar (Trucksess), Clement Trucksess, Gwendolyn Meux (Waldrop) and Virginia True—all members of the CU Fine Arts faculty—organized The Prospectors, a Regionalist art collaborative, in connection with a traveling exhibition of their work assembled for display at the University of Oklahoma at Norman, University of Kansas and the John Herron Institute (now the Indianapolis Museum of Art). This group lasted until 1942.

In 1928, 52 of Denver’s professional artists joined to establish the Denver Artists Guild. Noted founding members included Donald Bear, Clarence Durham, Laura Gilpin, Robert Graham, Elsie Haddon Haynes, Vance Kirkland, Albert Olson, Anne Van Briggle Ritter, Arnold and Louise Rönnebeck, Francis Drexel Smith, Elisabeth Spalding, David Spivak, Margaret Tee, John Thompson, Allen Tupper True and Frank Vavra. The Denver Artists Guild continues to operate today under the name Colorado Artists Guild, reflecting its widespread membership. The organization’s 52 charter members are documented in The Denver Artists Guild: Its Founding Members; An Illustrated History by Stan Cuba with a Foreword by Hugh Grant.

15 Colorado Artists

In 1948 the Denver Artists Guild endured a seminal break between its dominant traditionalist members and a smaller group of modernists who seceded the 15 Colorado Artists. The founding members were Don Allen, John Billmyer, Marion Buchan, Jean Charlot (then head of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center art school, 1947–1949), Mina Conant, Angelo di Benedetto, Eo (Eva Lucille) Kirchner, Vance Kirkland (Director of the University of Denver School of Art, 1946–1969), Moritz Krieg, Duard Marshall, Louise Emerson Ronnebeck, William Sanderson, Paul K. Smith, J. Richard Sorby and Frank Vavra. Ten of the charter members of the 15 taught at the University of Denver. Beginning the 1950s until the 1970s when the 15 disbanded, their membership roster expanded to include several dozen other Denver-based artists working in modernist and non-representational styles.

In December 1948 the new group was accorded a rival, concurrent exhibition right across the hall from the Guild’s annual show in the Denver Art Museum’s display space at Chappell House. Eleven articles about the break appeared in the Denver newspapers. People came in droves to the two dueling exhibitions and chose sides. This controversy recalls the earlier heated debate touched off by the 1919 Denver Armory Show about the validity of modernism. Denver exemplified the widespread disputes about abstraction superseding traditional painting that occurred in America during the 1920s, then regionalism holding sway over abstraction in the 1930s and the dominance of modern art forms that gained increasingly more recognition in the 1940s.

Armory Group and Criss-Cross

In the 1960s Boulder attracted some of the nation’s first hippies, many of whom enrolled in fine arts classes at CU. A loose association known as the Armory Group coalesced in 1966 at the old armory building north of the university campus where students and faculty had their studios. The 15-member group comprised of students Dale Chisman, Esta Clevenger, Joe Clower, John De Andrea, Charles Di Julio, John Fudge, Susie Hankin, Gerald Johnson, Richard Kallweit, Susan Katz, Margaret Neumann, Rike Reardon, Clark Richert, Mierle Laderman Ukeles and one faculty member, George Woodman.

The previous year Richard Kallweit and Clark Richert were two of the four original founders of Drop City, a counterculture artists’ community formed near Trinidad in southern Colorado. It encapsulated a growing desire at the time to “drop out” of mainstream life. During its creative heyday in the late 1960s, it comprised some 14 to 20 residents whose main artistic output took the form of buildings inspired by the geodesic design principles of Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes. Abandoned in 1973, Drop City became known as the first rural hippie commune.

A year later five of its members, including Di Julio, Kallweit and Richert, regrouped in Boulder to form the art cooperative, Criss-Cross. It became associated with the 1970s art movement Pattern and Decoration and came to include artists beyond Colorado. Between 1974 and 1980 Criss-Cross published the nationally distributed avant-garde art periodical Criss-Cross Art Communications and curated national and international art exhibitions focused on “pattern and structure”.

Vance Kirkland and the University of Denver (DU)

In 1928 DU purchased the Chappell School of Art with a grant from the Carnegie Foundation and hired Ohio painter Vance Kirkland (1904–1981) at age 24 as the Founding Director of the DU School of Art, which opened on January 3, 1929. With the faculty he both inherited from the former Chappell School and subsequently developed, he encouraged modern art forms. Beginning in the mid-1940s, he gradually effected a shift of the state’s art center from Colorado Springs to Denver.

In 1932, as Kirkland’s senior students approached graduation, the university refused to give credit for art courses toward degrees. Kirkland resigned and began the Kirkland School of Art in Henry Read’s old art school building two blocks east of Chappell House at 13th Avenue and Pearl Street. One of the school’s first teachers was Frank Mechau, recently returned from a three-year sojourn in Paris. By 1933, Kirkland had an agreement with the University of Colorado “Denver extension” (UCD) that his students could get credit there toward graduation for their art courses. He thereby also founded the UCD art department and initiated its art program. By the time he turned 28, he had established three art schools (DU, the Kirkland School of Art and UCD).

In 1946, when Kirkland had more than 200 students, DU hired him back with a salary equal to the chancellor’s. Over the years Kirkland’s faculty included three directors of the Denver Art Museum who were also very fine artists: Arnold Rönnebeck (Director 1926–1930), Donald Bear (Director 1934–1940) and Otto Bach (Director 1944–1974). Other important artists teaching with Kirkland were Julio deDiego, Roger Kotoske, Barbara Locketz, Bob Mangold, Beverly Rosen, William Sanderson, Maynard Tischler and Frank Vavra.

Surrealism and Abstraction in Colorado

Colorado has had more than twenty artists working in Surrealism. Among them are the German Bauhaus master herbert bayer, who came to the state in 1945 and stayed 29 years in Aspen; plus Otto Bach, Vance Kirkland, Charles Bunnell, Mina Conant, M. C. DeBoer, Julio deDiego, Moritz Krieg, Phyllis Montrose, Margaret Mullin, Frank Sampson and William Sanderson.

The history of abstraction of Colorado is documented in Colorado Abstract Paintings and Sculpture by Michael Paglia and Mary Voelz Chandler; Foreword by Hugh Grant. Important Colorado painters working in referential and pure abstraction are herbert bayer, George Cecil Carter, Mary Chenoweth, Dale Chisman, Nadine Drummond, Roland Detre, Sushe and Tracy Felix, Frank “Pancho” Gates, Ken Goehring, Charles “Bill” Hayes, Vance Kirkland, Paul Kontny, Emilio Lobato, Virginia Maitland, Gene Matthews, Amy Metier, Bev Rosen, William Sanderson. Mel Strawn, Al Wynne, Dave Yust and many more. Noted Colorado abstract sculptors are Edgar Britton, Susan Cooper, Robert Delaney, Angelo di Benedetto (also a painter), James Dixon, Dorothea Greene Dunlop, Bill Joseph (also a painter), Bob Mangold, David Mazza, Chuck Parson, Bob Ragland, Elizabeth Yanish Shwayder, Wilbert Verhelst and Carley Warren.

Print Media

In the wake of the explorer artists in the first half of the 19th century, Alfred E. Matthews came to the new town of Denver a few years after the Gold Rush to gather material for the images in his book, Pencil Sketches of Colorado, Its Cities, Principal Towns and Mountain Scenery (1866). Similarly, Eliza Greatorex, an associate of the National Academy of Design in New York, spent the summer of 1873 based in Manitou resulting in her book, Summer Etchings in Colorado, one of the earliest printed accounts of the state by a woman artist.

Having relocated to Denver with his wife in 1906 for his health, printer and painter George Elbert Burr spent the next 18 years there executing masterful etchings and drypoints of the mountain regions of the West before relocating to Phoenix, Arizona, in 1924 where he spent the rest of his life. The home and studio he built in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood continues to serve as the headquarters of the Denver Woman’s Press Club. Contemporary with Burr, Dean Babcock was based in Estes Park where he became known as a woodblock printmaker.

In the first half of the 20th century the leading Colorado printmaking center was the Broadmoor Art Academy/Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Early on, Birger Sandzén introduced lithography, block prints and drypoints to the Academy’s curriculum. Shortly thereafter, during his tenure as Director Boardman Robinson developed a lithography department, coinciding with widespread national interest in the medium at that time. At the Center lithography was taught by Ward Lockwood, Charles Locke, Lawrence Barrett and Reginald Neal. A number of students and visiting instructors executed lithographs such as Grace Landell Bartlett, George Biddle, Arnold Blanch, Eric Bransby, Edgar Britton, Charles Bunnell, Adolf Dehn, Otis Dozier, Percy Hagerman, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Doris Lee, Ethel and Jenne Magafan, Peppino Mangravite, Barbara Maples, Ellen O’Brien, Martyl (Schweig), Florence McClung, Frank Mechau, Archie Musick, Mildred Nungester, Alyda Powell, George Vander Sluis, Tabor Utley, Verna Jean Versa and Alicia Wiencek (Mrs. Ernest Fiene). After Robinson’s departure, printmaking continued with Jean Charlot, Mary Chenoweth and Emerson Woelffer.

In Denver printmaking in a variety of media and styles was done, beginning in the 1920s, by John Billmyer, Mina Conant, Werner Drewes, Philip Cheney, Martha Epp, Harold and Lois Keeler, Vance Kirkland, Eo Kirchner, Rose Bear Losee, Arnold Rönnebeck, Diana Vavra Strong, Lester Varian and Alfred Wands. In Boulder printmaking primarily was centered at the University of Colorado. Beginning in 1933 Estelle Stinchfield engaged in printmaking at Colorado State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Colorado) in Greeley and a decade later Clara Hatton did etchings as head of the art department at Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University) in Fort Collins.

Colorado Ceramics and Other Media

In addition to painting and sculpture, Colorado can claim a number of significant clay artists. The most famous husband and wife potters, both nationally and internationally, were Artus Van Briggle and Anne Gregory Van Briggle Ritter. After having met and studied in France, the couple came to Colorado Springs in 1899. Together they designed and produced what are considered to be some of the first and most important Art Nouveau ceramics in America. By 1900 in Denver William Long organized the Denver China and Pottery Company, developing a Denver Lonhuda line and an art pottery line called Denaura, also known as Denver Denaura. Five years later he moved back East where he formed the Clifton Art Pottery Company in Newark, New Jersey. In 1927–1929 Paul St. Gaudens, nephew of noted American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, taught pottery and ceramics at the Chappell School of Art in Denver. Other notable ceramists who worked later in the 20th century in Colorado are Bebe Alexander, Katie Caron, Richard DeVore, Martha Daniels, Carroll Hansen, Bob LeDonne, Donna Marecak, Nan and Jim McKinnell, Brad Miller, Bob Nelson, Janey Skeer, Bob Smith, Paul Soldner, Maynard Tischler, Betty Woodman and Lou Wynne.

Colorado also has had distinguished artists working in photography. Among them are William Henry Jackson whose first published images of Yellowstone facilitated the establishment of the national park in 1872; Louis Charles McClure, Jackson’s pupil, whose cityscapes of Denver are among the most accurate and artistic depictions of an American city during the City Beautiful movement in the early 20th century; Laura Gilpin, mentored by Colorado native and prominent early-day woman photographer Gertrude Käsebier, who became a premier photographer of Colorado, the American Southwest and its Native American populations; Fred Clatworthy based in Estes Park; and more recently Hal Gould, Winter Prather and Mark Sink. Besides the aforementioned, a number of Colorado artists have created fiber art, furniture, tableware, art glass and glassware, enamels, architecture and landscape architecture, costume and set design, found object art and assemblage.


This overview of Colorado art only begins to suggest how many significant works have been created in and about this state. The Colorado Collection at Kirkland Museum continues to grow. Although not comprehensive, it is typically the most Colorado art—from traditional through modern styles—to be publicly displayed on a consistent basis. Kirkland Museum does not show contemporary art because it can be seen at other venues such as the Denver Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and at most commercial galleries. Kirkland Museum provides visitors an in-depth look at the history of Colorado art from traditional through modern, which has provided the foundation for contemporary artists. Our Colorado Collection has received national and regional publicity, with loans made to many other museums and cultural institutions. Artists working in Colorado continue to make important contributions not only to our state and the West, but also to America’s art history.