My first art purchase: a Louis Recchia piece from Pirate when I was nine or ten years old

This is part of a series of posts in honor of Denver Arts Week, saluting some of our favorite people and places on the arts scene.

I didn't think my childhood was different from that of anyone else who grew up in a working class home -- until a slumber party in Catholic school alerted me to my weirdness. I guess everyone else's parents didn't let them watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Pink Flamingos at sleepovers. But along with living in a house where censorship didn't really exist, I was also lucky to have parents who took me to art openings. Lots of them.

I bought the piece displayed above when I was nine or ten years old from Pirate: Contemporary Art; known then as Pirate: A Contemporary Art Oasis, the co-op opened in 1980 and is currently celebrating its annual Dia de los Muertos festivities). I think I spent $20 on the Louis Recchia work, which still hangs in whatever place I currently call home.

Reed Weimer and Chandler Romeo -- one-time members and landlords of the Pirate -- are old friends of my family (my uncle, Ed Kutz, also an amazing artist, went to art school with Weimer), so we visited the gallery often. I didn't know Recchia personally, but looking at the piece with adult eyes, I can see exactly why I wanted it.

First of all, my elementary school-age self could afford it. But more importantly, the miniature painting looks like everything else I'm attracted to in popular culture; it is fleshy and colorful and cartoonish. It seemed as though Recchia had crammed as much glitter and girl parts into the small space as the circular frame would allow.

My mother has always been very vocal about "buying local," even before it was cool to do so. This very much applies to art -- my childhood home could be gallery unto itself. Along with giant paintings by my brother, Evan Kutz, and my uncle, I grew up surrounded by the work of Weimer, Romeo and Jennifer Melton (co-founder of Pirate).

Like my mom, I find myself puzzled when I walk into other people's homes and see prints and strange pop art-looking things purchased from Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. Why would you want to look at something the rest of the world can see, when you can own affordable, one-of-a-kind works created by artists right here in Colorado?

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