‘Art of the State’ fills Arvada Center’s galleries

Show that returns every three years offers intriguing array


Art lovers will want to plan a trip to the handsome Arvada Center for the Arts at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. — or possibly more than one trip — to visit the really strong “Art of the State” exhibit, which happens only every three years and attracts a wonderful variety of creative works that illustrate so many modes of expression. There are 149 works by 142 Colorado artists exhibited in two large galleries and the exhibit runs through March 27. Admission is free, but a reservation is required due to COVID limitations on how many visitors can be in the space at a given time.

Visitors are led into the exhibit by Jodie Roth Cooper’s “Mountain Flower,” a pair of Corten steel forms 8 1/2 feet tall, placed inside the main entrance at the base of the stairs leading to theaters. They seem to greet one and invite further looking. The spacious main floor gallery is just to the left and Deborah Jang’s mixed media assemblage sculpture, “We’re not in Kansas anymore,” stands tall to the left, past a mix of wall-hung pieces and three-dimensional works — free-standing and on shelves and pedestals. It seems to beckon one in ...

Materials range from predictable wood, clay, paint, canvas, paper, metal and more, to interesting combinations and surfaces. Sizes and textures vary greatly and then there’s the riot of color. Satisfies the senses!

These pieces were selected by three jurors from 2,067 submissions by 734 artists from throughout the state — a mind-blowing prospect, one would think!

Jurors were: Louise Martorano, executive director of Red Line Contemporary Art Center; Ellamaria Ray, artist/anthropologist, professor of African Studies, Metropolitan State University of Denver; and Collin Parson, director of galleries and curator, Arvada Center.

Each brought a wide range of experience and skill to the project and spent a great deal of time looking at online images of entries — created in multiple ways and with many materials, by established artists and some new to the competition.

The Best of Show award went to wood artist Chris DeKnikker’s “Reunion,” an appealing assemblage of thin slices of various woods (cherry, holly, maple, peach, poplar, walnut), mounted on a light-colored panel, with connecting black painted lines/shapes. Deep stain highlights the age rings in the larger pieces of wood and many of the tiny ones. Which ones are which variety of wood? A viewer speculates about trees of origin. What forms do they take? (One really wants to run a finger across them, but refrains!)

Fine crafts are widely represented as well in “Art of the State.” The line between has pretty much disappeared these days, although I suppose there are still some naysayers who will object to combining paintings and sculptures and prints with works in clay and metal.

Photography is also included — combined with calligraphy in Kyoko Ono and Judy Anderson’s “Pareidolia 1.” Meredith Nemirov’s “Rivers Feed The Trees #463” combines acrylic paint and gouache on a historic topographic map.

Tom Mazzullo’s subtle “Two-part Invention No. 18” is drawn with silverpoint on prepared paper, while Elizabeth Morisette’s bright and busy “Viral” is created with sewn zippers-and appears ready to run off around the gallery.

Print techniques are overlayered in Tony Ortega’s richly-hued print “La Troca Roja,” and Sangeeta Reddy exhibits “The Quiet Burn of Autumn,” a golden acrylic collage with paper, silk and repurposed rubber on canvas.

Variety is endless and each work deserves more than one look! The exhibit is beautifully arranged, with related pieces together.


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