Abstract impressionists Vance Kirkland and Clyfford Still face off tonight at a free lecture

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The parallels are uncanny: two abstract impressionist painters who lived more or less during the same time, whose work developed along similar lines, both with strong ties to Colorado. One was Vance Kirkland, who lived and worked here most of his life, the other, Clyfford Still, who ended up with a museum here after Denver accepted the terms of his estate in 2004. Tonight, the heads of those two artists' respective museums face off in Face to Face: Vance Kirkland and Clyfford Still, a mano-a-mano slideshow and lecture where the two directors will examine those parallels, and possibly battle. Or maybe not - but either way, it's free.

In the red trunks: Dean Sobel, director of the Clyfford Still Museum. In the black trunks: Hugh Grant, founding director and curator of the Kirkland Museum. The format: a series of roughly 10-minute slideshows covering 10-year periods of the artists' lives and work.

"What they found when they started to examine these two artists' work next to each other is that changes tended to take place in kind of 10-year increments," says Kirkland Museum Deputy Director Gerald Horner. "So we're going to have dual projectors for the two directors, and they're going to trade off talking about these 10-year periods, and they're kind of ad-libbing as they go along."

Or are they floating like a butterfly, stinging like a bee? The two directors touch gloves tonight at the Chambers Grant Salon in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House at 14th and Curtis Streets downtown. Doors open at 6 p.m. with the lecture at 6:30, then a cash bar and drinks afterward. It's free and open to the public, but guests need to RSVP to the Kirkland Museum to reserve a seat by following the link or calling 303-832-8576.

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