Dana Cain is the lady with her thumb in a million pies: The local maestra of event-planning throws several well-attended collectors expos, art shows, parties and chocolate fests each year. Her latest - and biggest - project is next summer's Denver County Fair.
But Dana is also an avid art collector who's made a conscious decision to collect works by Colorado artists on a regular basis, especially after seeing the 2008 documentary about collector couple Herb and Dorothy.
Dana collects out of love and a real desire to support the local art community. But her rules of collecting are sketchy: "If I have to have it, I buy it... if I have enough money," she admits. "But it has to be a piece that I connect with on a personal and emotional level; I have to be able to recognize in that piece of work a piece of myself. I hate it when an artist comes up and tells me what a piece means, since I've already invented my own narrative about it. Plus, it's my goal in life to inspire others to collect art: It's so fun, and you don't need a big budget. You just have to start small."
Dana estimates that she buys an average of two to four pieces a month, when she can afford it. And her house is one big gallery/art installation, with themed rooms arranged and designed to best show off her growing collection. Over the coming weeks, we'll be exploring the individual works and why they belong to Dana Cain. The first piece Dana remembers consciously collecting is "My Pet" by Navajo Street coop stalwart Louis Recchia, known for the pop art and neo-expressionist canvases and collages he shows at the Pirate and Zip 37 galleries. Some of his work is owned by the Denver Art Museum, Vance Kirkland Museum and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, among other prestigious collections, and his style, sometimes shot through with mirror shards, is a familiar piece of the local-art canon. "My Pet" depicts a retro-looking girl with her pet dinosaur. What more needs be said?
At the time she bought this in 2005, Dana says the price tag -- $225 -- seemed to her like a lot of money to spend on art. "But when I wrote out the check and gave it to him, it was such a rush. I actually felt high; I was giddy. And that feeling lasted a for quite a long time. I thought to myself, 'I'm gonna be doing that again.'" Dana has since bought a couple more Recchia pieces: "Spot Thought He Was the Center of the Universe"...
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...and "Intelligence Test," a smaller mock-up of a large wall installation shown by Recchia last year at Pirate. Both are sly and funny and immediately likeable.
Like what you see? Future installments are imminent. Watch Westword's Show and Tell blog for more.