Angela Beloian was raised to be an artist by a creative family, left to her own devices to develop a practice out of her love of nature and color. A world traveler, teacher and gallery artist at Walker Fine Art, the Longmont-based artist is best known for complicated mixed-media paintings bursting with color and overlaid with delicate line work.
Learn what moves Beloian, who strives to capture beauty in every composition, as she draws a self-portrait in words via the Colorado Creatives questionnaire.
Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?
Angela Beloian: I find inspiration and solace in a garden. When I was growing up in Southern California, my grandmother’s flowers were always in bloom, and I learned the names of plants at a young age. My most recent work is inspired by my mother’s houseplants, some of which are over forty years old and were passed down to her from her mother. My mom passed away last December, and painting the plants that she nurtured has been a way to depict the connection I still feel to her.
Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?
Jeong Kwan is a South Korean Zen Buddhist nun who inspires me with her approach to living, teaching and finding beauty and intention in the smallest details.
Writer and artist Maira Kalman is smart, and I admire her quirky, childlike paintings of people. I was first introduced to her children’s books when my son was young. I later read The Principles of Uncertainty, a poignantly written and illustrated journal that prompted me to use creative journaling while caring for my mother during her weeks at home with hospice.
In 2005 I saw a retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of the work of Tim Hawkinson. His art is bizarre and ingeniously creative, and I think it would be fascinating to speak with him.
What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?
I love the influx of young, creative energy into the Front Range. My community in Longmont is experiencing a renaissance, and it’s exciting to see so many artists and makers moving into the area. The theater scene in the Front Range is especially vibrant, innovative and rich with talent.
However, having lived in Houston for a couple of years, I feel like it’s much harder to be financially supported in the arts in Colorado than Houston. I attribute this to the natural beauty that surrounds us here. People in urban environments often depend upon the arts to replenish the spirit. Here in Colorado, a lot of people find healing in nature, and the arts become secondary. That said, Meow Wolf, DCPA Off-Center, the Catamounts in Boulder and others are creating immersive experiences that are drawing new audiences.
How about globally?
The amount of creative talent in the world is humbling, and the Internet has made so much of it visible. Instagram and YouTube have changed the way we experience art; while they make work more accessible, they simultaneously diminish the experience by flattening and shrinking it until it fits on a screen in our palm.
What made you pick up a paintbrush in the first place?
I was born into a family of what we would today call makers. Adapting to a growing family, my father built the second floor of my childhood home. My mother was a beautician and cut and styled my hair and sewed matching floral dresses for her and me (it was the ’70s). My grandma made the ceramic dishes we ate from, and my Nana knitted all of my sweaters. From an early age, I learned to examine how things are made, and my family instilled the practice and joy of self-sufficiency. Painting came naturally because I am passionate about color, but the maker in me has always been inspired to work with fiber, clay and jewelry as well. I created dishes and cloth napkins with artwork adapted from my son’s childhood drawings, and recently painted my front door, mailbox and light post with vibrant art. It makes me happy to come home, and it has sparked positive new connections with my neighbors.
What’s your dream project?
I dream of drawing and painting in a Japanese garden. The idea of participating in an art residency in Kyoto makes my heart beat faster.
Denver (or Colorado), love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
I love to travel and learn about other people and cultures while calling Longmont home. I appreciate the healthy lifestyle supported here and the many inspiring creatives. There is a sense of community, possibility and innovation, and people tend to be supportive and collaborative.
However, I worry that our state isn’t adequately investing in public transportation and that traffic congestion is going to become untenable as more people move into the area. Commuting from Longmont to Denver is becoming more difficult and oftentimes deters me from seeing shows in Denver. I also worry that the rising cost of living is pushing out artists and people from the area who can no longer afford to live here.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Kirsten Wilson, founder of Motus Theater in Boulder, has always been an inspiration in the way she tackles relevant issues and collaborates with many other organizations. She has the ability to see the seed of truth and speak it out loud, and sets an example for inclusion and advocacy that I hope to see expand in our community. Her current project, titled UndocuMonologues, raises awareness around immigration through young people sharing their stories in a powerful, honest and vulnerable way.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
I just finished an emotionally charged body of work about my mother’s recent death. In the paintings, I choose to embrace beauty, and it’s on view at Walker Fine Art until August 31. Throughout the process of losing my mom, I turned to my art practice as a vehicle for moving through grief and was continually reminded of the importance of art in our daily lives. Looking to the future, I’d like to find ways of supporting others in using art to create beauty in their life.
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Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
This is a tough question, because I have the privilege of knowing several creatives that I’d like to name. However, Nelson Walker would have to be my pick. He’s a young cellist and composer currently studying at CU Boulder, but he already has received recognition from the Playground Ensemble in Denver and the Carpe Diem String Quartet, who recently performed his work at the Chigiana Institute in Siena, Italy. Yes, he’s also my son, and I know I’m biased, but he’s the real deal.
See work by Angela Beloian, with Jean Albus, Norman Epp, Don Quade, Eileen Roscina Richardson, Ben Strawn, Meagen Svendsen and Ana Zanic in The Enchanted Garden, currently on view at Walker Fine Art, 300 West 11th Avenue, through August 31.
Learn more about Angela Beloian and her work online.