In Review: Denver Arts 2012 director Ken Hamel's un-numbered, un-ordered, and somewhat un-structured look back at the local year in art...

wb* Spending Time at RedLine

Almost every exhibit at RedLine in 2012 was top notch, a look back includes Wang Gongxin (pix), Hybrid (pix), Material Engagements (pix),
Off The Beaten Path:Violence, Women and Art, and The Human Touch, comprised of work hand picked from the Royal Bank of Canada's Wealth Management division's art collection by local curator William Biety. Biety's selections were like having a mini-museum in town, featuring over 50 works from artists including Kehinde Wiley, Vik Muniz, John Baldessari and Chuck Close. (left: William Biety with RBC collection curator Don McNeil.)

And if the great art is not enough, stop by to wander through the RedLine members' open (and very much working) studios taking in the artistic
process of some of Denver's most notable emerging talent.

* csmSpending Time with Clyfford

One year later, I can say with great enthusiasm that the Clyfford Still Museum is an unabashed hit. An afternoon in the museum is like walking through the park, but with towering paintings taking the place of trees, and stoic formed concrete substituting for dreamy clouds. I love being in the building and I never tire of the work, which changes with unexpected regularity (and quite frankly even if the collection was static, I'm fine revisiting works that have become like old friends.) Still is celebrated with dedicated rooms at institutions across the US including SF MOMA, NY's Met, the Hirshhorn in DC, etc., we're fortunate to have the moneyshot right here in Denver. (right: Joel Shapiro's "For Jennifer" in front of the CSM)

* And Spending Time at the MCA

Several years more than one year later, but as above wtih Clyfford, the MCA has settled into a wonderful home that is a pleasure to spend time in. The recent show Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art was a treat and spoke to me in a much more meaningful way than either "Primal Scene of Punk Rock" or West of Center, two history lessons that were less engaging artistically than Postscript. And More American Photographs was without doubt Denver's best photography exhibit of 2012 featuring recent work by iconic photographers Stephen Shore and Larry Clark among others.

ep* Milestones at the DAM

Several notable shows at the DAM, especially the excellent El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa which transformed the 4th floor of the Hamilton building into an African tapestry of twisted refuse and charred wood. I was also impressed with Gary Winogrand's Women Are Beautiful, nicely presented by the DAM's curator of photography Eric Paddock. While not exactly my bailiwick, the Yves Saint Laurent retrospective was well received locally with sellout crowds, and the Becoming Van Gogh exhibit was a unique achievement that deserves praise. And at over $20 per pop for entrance fees to the two aforementioned blockbusters, Let Them Mint Cash. (left: Eric Paddock)

* Public Art Tours from Arts and Venues

The city of Denver has an extensive collection of public art that you can take in at your leisure on your own, but I never miss an opportunity to join in on the popular public art tours held throughout the summer by the city's excellent staff and volunteers. I especially enjoyed the tour of Civic Center Park by Leon Krier (pix) and the 14th St / Convention Center tours by Mandy Renaud (pix). More info at

rc* Colorado Photographic Arts Center First Year

CPAC is hitting its stride in 2012 with several excellent exhibits including Laura Shill and Adam Milner, Matt Slaby and Matt Eich, Ed Kashi and Ruby Ray. In addition, CPAC played host to Katie Taft's Action Figures artist talk series (with Katie interviewing guest artists Judy Anderson, Sabin Aell and Brigid McAuliffe among others) as well as an excellent Portfolio Review series where up-and-coming photographers can have their latest images scoped by CPAC's director Rupert Jenkins alongside a rotating cast of well known luminaries on the local photo scene (including Carol Golemboski and Jessie Paige) (right: Rupert Jenkins and Carol Golemboski)

* Plus Plus

Ivar Zeile of Plus Gallery played host to a solid series of excellent artist talks as well as film and music events at the gallery. I especially enjoyed
New Abstraction Today: Four Essential Plus Gallery Artists (pix) and Xi Zhang's March 2012 gallery talk. You can keep up with the gallery's events by signing up for Ivar's weekly newsletter which of course has a strong emphasis on his gallery's artists and events, but also has an eye on other interesting goings on around town as well; sign up at

 * 2012 Stuff

Happy 5 year anniversary! The May celebration at City O' City was epic, including a "trippin' down memory lane" interview with Katie Taft and a 45 minute retrospective slideshow featuring some 150 photographs of artists I have taken since 2007. Thanks everyone for coming out and showing support. Also of note on the website, a new application for generating maps of the various Denver arts districts and a new, easier to read newsletter format.

2012-05-21 223620* Noteworthy Milestones and Events:

* Exhibits of Note:

Best wishes for a fantastic 2013! - KLH

(all photos by Ken Hamel/


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