Art News

Mirada Fine Art Gallery Moves From Indian Hills to LoDo

Mirada Fine Art Gallery is now located at 1331 15th Street.
Mirada Fine Art Gallery is now located at 1331 15th Street. Gabrielle Bye
For twelve years, Mirada Fine Art Gallery filled an old trading post in Indian Hills with contemporary Western art. Now it's moved to equally historic digs in LoDo, in a building that started out in 1878 as the Neef Brothers Saloon and Dance Hall. On July 24, the gallery will open its doors at 1331 15th Street for a grand-opening weekend, complete with live painting by some of its artists.

Although the interior has been completely renovated, it still has the feel of an upscale mountain home. Rustic furniture is staged alongside, and sometimes in front of, large, colorful works of art representing the grandeur of Colorado and the West. Steve Sonnen, who opened Mirada in Indian Hills in 2009 with his wife, Jenni, says the atmosphere is very intentional: Mirada is designed to exude a feeling of warmth and comfort, so that visitors to the gallery can envision how the art might look in their own homes.

"We call it 'livable art,"' explains Sonnen. "We had some out-of-town friends, and we went to the Museum of Contemporary Art, and it's an awesome experience, but I don't know if I really want to have a lot of that stuff in my house. What is beautiful art that is unique but that people want to live with?"

At Mirada, the answer to that question is a mixture of Western art — most, but not all, created by Colorado-based artists. Textured wall pieces made with different types of soil from Sedona by Argentinian artist Marcela Panasiti welcome you inside the gallery, while metal goat statues inspired by petroglyphs, made by Jill Shwaiko, stand guard. Beyond are detailed paintings created only with drizzles of paint by Evergreen-based Andrew Baird and expressive Southwestern landscapes from Castle Rock-based artist Rick Young. Peep into the office at the back to see a wall mural by Denver's Pedro Barrios.

Downstairs is a secret hideaway with stone foundation walls, one of the main reasons that Sonnen was so attracted to this building. Around the basement space are decorative easels containing more work, making the space feel like an artist's studio; in the back are the art stacks, with more pieces that couldn't be displayed.

click to enlarge
Mirada's collection ahead of its opening is extensive and diverse.
Gabrielle Bye
"In our old building up in the foothills, we used to have a separate building — an abandoned garage — where we had all the art stacks and the extra art, and it always bummed me out, because no matter how much we told people, 'Hey, we have a lot more art, we just don't have them on walls,' it didn't really connect sometimes," Sonnen recalls. "So we wanted to make sure the art stacks were approachable."

The new Mirada space is double the size of its old home; that was one reason for the move. Another: Much of Mirada's clientele lives in Denver. Not that the location in Indian Hills was hurting business; according to Sonnen, sales at the end of last year were phenomenal.

"The last few months ended up being crazy, and then the first quarter of the year was the best quarter we've ever had," he says. "And then we were only open April-May in the second quarter before we closed down starting to get ready for this, and even in two months, it was by far the best quarter we've ever had."

While Sonnen was able to use his background in marketing to build a clientele in Indian Hills, this location close to Larimer Square should help attract even more people, making a visit to the gallery part of an experience rather than a trip to an isolated destination. "Now it's kind of nice because [visitors] can pair off going to the gallery with Larimer Square and restaurants," Sonnen notes.

Mirada will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, July 24, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 25. On Saturday, Janice Sugg, a Colorado-based oil painter, will paint in the gallery from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Rick Young will demonstrate his colorful paintings of New Mexico from 2:30 to 6 p.m. On Sunday, Colorado watercolorist Steve Griggs will be on hand. Mirada is now located at 1331 15th Street; for more information, call 303-697-9006 or visit
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Gabrielle Bye, a former editorial fellow at Westword, writes about news, politics and food. In her spare time, she loves to enjoy nature and eat locally.
Contact: Gabrielle Bye