Tag Archives: By Colleen Smith

Interviewing a legend: Ursula von Rydingsvard

Ursula von Rydingsvard, an American sculptor, was born in Germany in 1942, to a Polish mother and a Ukrainian father. Weaned on the destructive acts of war, she rose to acts of peace and creativity and established herself as one of the most esteemed sculptors of our time. What a thrill to sit down with her one-on-one in a gallery at Denver Botanic Gardens, where she’s showcased in a solo exhibition running through Sept. 11, 2022. Here’s a link to my article published 30 April by The Denver Gazette. Click here to read.

Ursula von Rydingsvard and I had a comfortable connection and a deep conversation, and she gave me a hug at the end of the interview. I was star-struck and almost asked her to take a selfie with me!

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Art aficionado frames the art of collecting

This feature article involves some cross-pollination. The article is published by one of my publishers — Art & Object — about the publisher of another magazine I publish in titled Western Art & Architecture.

Entrance to the Salmagundi Club, houses in a brownstone mansion in New York City

WIKEPEDIA

Tim Newton has as artful pedigree. In addition to serving as publisher of the slick, large-format magazine, he also is chairman-emeritus of the famed Salmagundi Club in New York City. He brings to art collecting his background as a kitchen designer for 30 years, a profession that honed his sense of design.

Click here to learn Newton’s tips for art collectors. No pay wall and no pop-up ads!

PS One of Newton’s main points is that collecting art is not for wealthy people only. He began his enviable collection of preparatory studies, oil paintings and sculptures with meager means, but an abundance of passion.

Click here to read my feature on Art & Object.

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A painter with range: Susiehyer

Western Art & Architecture published my profile of the painter known as Susiehyer in the new issue. Susiehyer is an avid outdoors woman, as well as a passionate painter who works in oils. She’s also a character as colorful as one of her landscapes, and we shared some laughs during our conversations.

Susiehyer paints both a wide range of subject matter — landscapes, still lifes, nocturnes — and in a range of styles from full abstraction to representational works. And she paints everywhere from the American Southwest to Tahiti. But she always paints in oils. “There’s a difference,” the artist says. “Acrylics are plastic, and they look like plastic.”

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Denver’s RiNo Art District named Street Art Capital of the U.S.

Denver’s RiNo Art District is home to more than 200 murals, and the outdoor collection adds more each year.

Denver’s RiNo Art District is proof of the powerful impact of public art. The art district’s mural project draws visitors to an industrial corridor once less desirable, but now hip and happening. The murals not only beautiful the buildings in the art district, but also support the growth and expansion of businesses. The mural project supports artists, as well tis the RiNo Art District tagline: “Where art is made.”

RiNo Art District: Where art is made

Reporting this story, I learned the difference between street art and graffiti: Street artists have permission. Graffiti artists do not. In the case of RiNo, both sorts of artists are at work. Graffiti artists are known to tag murals. “That’s the street talking to the street,” said Tracy Weil, the RiNo co-founder and director who admits he’s put up both murals and graffiti.

More about RiNo Art District’s olinnovative, creative and wildly successful mural collection in my article published by Art & Object:

Click here — no pay wall and no advertisements.

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Ice lanterns warm up winter

Ice lanterns in my secret garden, early February 2022, a post that eventually had about 2,000 “Likes,” “Loves” and “Wows” on Facebook.

During a cold snap in Denver, I made some ice lanterns, as I typically do when temperatures plummet to single digits. I’ve been making these simple ice sculptures for years, but the tradition dates back to the Finns who decorated soldiers’ graves with ice candles.
When I posted my photo of glowing ice lanterns in my secret garden, almost 2,000 people from around the world connected with the photo on Facebook. Comments poured in from around the world. Lots of people asked how to make the enchanting ice lanterns.

Now, my step-by-step instructions have been published by Taproot magazine. My feature is in the new issue with the theme “Refresh.”

I share all my secrets for making ice lanterns in my feature published in the new issue of Taproot magazine.

Ice candles are ephemeral. Part of their charm lies in their every-changing nature subject to the weather. One of the nicest aspects of teaching people to make these lanterns of fire and ice is when they succeed and send me a photo of their own ice candles. It sets me aglow to know others enjoy this simple yet elegant winter tradition and add a bit of warmth and light to the dead of winter.

Pick up a copy of Taproot magazine’s “Refresh” issue, February 2022, for my ice lantern tutorial.

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American Museum of Western Art houses the unrivaled Anschutz Collection in Denver

An impressive private art collection made public in an ideal historic building combine for one of Denver’s hidden art gems: the American Museum of Western Art — The Anschutz Collection.

Details from paintings in The Anschutz Collection at American Museum of Western Art

And if you think Western art means all cowboys and Native Americans and landscapes, the depth and breadth of The Anschutz Collection might surprise you with works by notables such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Maxfield Parrish, Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, Helen Frankenthaler, Thomas Hart Benton, Childe Hassam and N.C. Wyeth.

Details from landscape paintings at AMWA, which includes more than 600 works of art

AMWA’s headquarters are artful, too. The building’s storied past is almost as colorful as the paintings, with reproductions of turn-of-the-centuries parlors well appointed with period furnishings.

Have a look at my article published by Art & Object with a number of images of the art and the museum, but no pay wall and no pop-up adds. Just click here.

As if the sumptuous art collection in the period setting weren’t enough, the museum also provides plenty of outreach to school groups, people with Alzheimer’s and their caretakers, and others with special needs. The museum has a wonderful website, too. Click here to visit the website where you can learn more about the collection, the building, virtual lectures and more.

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Salvador Dali’s rarely seen botanical prints at Denver Botanic Gardens

Salvador Dali, Gardens of the Mind Exhibit, photo courtesy Denver Botanic Gardens

Salvador Dali taught us that there’s more to life than meets the eye. And while Dali’s surreal art tends to bring to mind warped clocks or Catholic crucifixions, the artist also created several suites of botanical prints. Dali subverted the high-brow seriousness of botanical illustration and put his own spin on the art — sometimes working directly over existing prints.

Working with the librarian at The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL and the art curator at Denver Botanic Gardens, I wrote about the Dali botanicals on exhibit at DBG.

Each slide has commentary to help understand Dali’s art — as if we can understand the wild and dreamy imagination of the artist who believed his inspiration came through the tips of his handlebar mustache. Quirky and colorful and full of mystery, too, have a look at Dali’s fruits and flowers and you’ll never see a peach or a pomegranate or a pansy the same again.

Click here for my article published by Art & Object — no pay wall!

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Coffee: What’s the buzz?

Coast to coast, many Americans—myself included–cannot imagine a day without coffee. But coffee is a vulnerable crop that is, so to speak, in hot water. Coffee cultivation faces many challenges, including climate change. As demand for coffee increases, yields decrease due to increased drought, pests and damaging storms. In addition, coffee lacks genetic diversity. And coffee is linked to many social justice issues, as well. 

In the United States, coffee is produced in Hawaii, Puerto Rico and more recently in California. However, the U.S. Congress allocated funds to expand the USDA’s research and development in 2019, the USDA Coffee and Cacao Crop Germplasm Committee was formed. 

The chair of that committee is Sarada Krishnan, Ph.D., also directs horticulture and global initiatives at Denver Botanic Gardens. “Coffee is an international crop, and it surely is a crop whose sustainability every country needs to address. The entire coffee value chain needs to address sustainability, including consumers,” said Krishnan, who owns coffee farms in Jamaica

One of the foremost authorities on coffee, Krishnan also is working on a coffee research project in Puerto Rico, affected by both hurricanes and earthquakes. Dr. Sarada Krishnan was contracted by World Coffee Research to serve as the lead scientist in a research project to study the feasibility of using solar panels to generate energy for coffee farms while also providing shade for the coffee plants.  

I’ve wanted to interview Dr. Krishnan for years and finally caught up with her. This feature on her and her passion for coffee was published April 11,2021, in The Denver Gazette, and you can read it at this link.

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Ginny Williams’ glass house demolished

Sundial Park, officially Cranmer Park, has long been one of my favorite Denver parks — and we have a lot of cool parks in the Mile High City. I used to walk my dogs there, admired the lavish flower gardens and above all the view of 120 miles of Colorado’s Front Range and the oversized sundial. Sundial Park has been a primo spot for stargazing, watching fireworks, and I’ve conducted a number of interviews there at picnic tables under the large trees. ••• Also, there was the glass house that Ginny Williams’ built. When my walking partner told me that the house was to be torn down, I couldn’t believe it. When we walked past and saw the construction fence around the property and the large machinery, I thought maybe they were adding a swimming pool. But, no. The house was razed. When I posted on Facebook, so many people responded that I knew I needed to pursue a story. The trail let to the architect in New York City, and we had a profound conversation about the glass house he’d designed for the late art doyenne of Denver. The trail also led to a former Historic Denver director who emphasized the need for some protections for such extraordinary buildings. The Denver Gazette published my feature last Sunday, a story about private property and private lives.

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Four of Colorado’s female leaders overcame various disadvantages

ON ASSIGNMENT for Colorado Expression magazine’s annual Women’s Issue, I interviewed a quartet of leaders who overcame adversity and obstacles to assume leadership roles. For the cover story, the magazine featured four Colorado women: a Black woman, two Latinas and an immigrant from Poland.

Oftentimes, the most interesting portions of interviews never get published. We shared some laughs and some tears, too, off the record. My feature appears in the new issue of Colorado Expression.

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