By Nancy Hahn
Several years ago, Wheat Ridge created an opportunity for residents to tour the studios of a host of Wheat Ridge artists. Wheat Ridge residents became aware of the many talented artists throughout Wheat Ridge and excited about the variety of wonderful works being produced. But while there are no studio tours in the works, Wheat Ridge is still full of artists and wonderful artwork.
The new mural at Anderson Pool is the newest piece of public art in Wheat Ridge, but there is public art all around town. City Hall features “Red, White, and True,” a bronze sculpture of a fox and kits, and “Symbols in Stone” on the outside west wall. There are also carved tile boxes at the Recreation Center. “Symbols in Stone” and “Seasons” are found near the front desk and “Natural Impressions” upstairs. Outside, there is a bronze sculpture titled, “She Ain’t Heavy.”
Hooper Hollow Park has a beautiful bronze sculpture representing the balance between choices, called “Truth.” Discovery Park holds a stunning, Kevin Robb sculpture, titled “Discovering the Stars.” A tour of our parks would be a great way to enjoy a variety of wonderful art.
Kevin Robb is one of the most renowned Wheat Ridge artists. For 30 years, his sculptures have been created and shared. His beautiful metal sculptures are found not only across the United States, but around the world.
His sculptures curve and twist. They shine and glow. They give you the sense that when you look away they probably move. Maybe, they dance.
Robb does not have a careful, detailed and measured plan for each sculpture. As the work grows, the twist and bends are developed. The sculptures are created in stainless steel, bronze and even bright colors. They are created in any size from table-top to mammoth.
You have, no doubt, seen several of them. This spring, a sculpture that appears to be blowing in the wind was placed at the Denver Tech Center; “Kite Festival” was created to be viewed both from the ground and from the high windows of the Tech Center office buildings.
While Robb suffered a stroke that restricted his movement, he continues to create sculptures full of apparent movement.
Brandon Finamore is a young artist who grew up in Wheat Ridge. Growing up surrounded by an area full of wildlife, he enjoyed painting from nature. His paintings remind many viewers of Audubon, because he paints birds with detail and accuracy.
His source for subjects now, though, is not the wide outdoors, but natural history museum collections. Viewing the collections at the Denver Museum of Natural History helped him recognize the detail and small differences that identify different varieties of birds. This visit encouraged the artist to develop his photo-realistic style. He wants experts to be able to recognize not just that the bird in his painting is a finch, for example, but to recognize the variety and the region the bird once lived in.
Recently, Finamore had a first and very successful show in Denver’s River North District. He credits his art teacher at Wheat Ridge High School for recognizing his art talent, encouraging him, and helping him build his skills. He returned to Wheat Ridge High School for his student teaching and now is an art teacher in an Adams 14 middle school. Finamore hopes he can provide the same encouragement and skill building for his students.
Marie EvB Gibbons is an artist who took part in the Wheat Ridge Studio Tours. She has become busier than ever with her enlarged studio at 3735 Ames St., and more students and classes than ever.
Gibbons is a unique clay artist and sculptor. Rather than the way many artists work with clay in a process of sculpt, fire, glaze and fire again, Gibbons does not like to use glazing, then firing. Glazing can produce lovely surprises, but she prefers to paint her work after firing without being surprised. Painting allows the artist to be in complete control of the color.
Always trying new ideas, Gibbons is creating a new type of sculpture. Creating these flower sculptures includes a long process before firing. The sculptures use artificial flower blossoms and liquefied clay called slip. Water is mixed with clay to produce the slip and then artificial flower blossoms are dipped into the slip. The blossom dries and is dipped again. Over and over. Again, and again. When a thick enough layer of clay has been created the flower can become part of a sculpture, be fired in the kiln, and painted. New ideas and experimentation are a big part of this artist’s work.
Melanie Lunsford’s Metro Frame Works, at 5310 W. 38th Ave., is a great place to stop if you want to look at some great art or you are looking for creative ideas to display your artwork or photographs in your home.
Traditional frames of every pattern, size and style can be created in Lunsford’s workshop. She can help you discover the perfect way to create a display. The shop’s walls have artwork displayed in groupings and creative ways to inspire customers. If you visit the shop, you will go home with great ideas.
If you want to try something new with art, the Wheat Ridge Recreation Center has art classes from “Making Bead Soup Memory Bracelets” to pottery.
Teller Street Gallery, also, offers Paint and Vino classes and Painting and Mimosa classes. The gallery, also, offers open studio days when you can come and pick from a wide choice of projects to create.
Clearly, Wheat Ridge is full of both fine art and fun art.