William Matthews: Drawn to Paint

William Matthews, who grew up in San Francisco, didn’t set out to be a Western artist. His first show in Denver, in the then-just-six-year-old Larimer Square, featured pastoral watercolors and poster typography. But in the early ’80s, Matthews was invited to Elko, Nevada, for a cowboy poetry gathering, and it changed his art — and his life. Today Matthews is one of the country’s most successful Western artists, even if he doesn’t think of himself as a Western artist. “I’m not a cowboy,” he says. “I’ve never drawn a paycheck from a ranch.”

But he’s visited plenty: “The only way to see these things is to get off the pavement,” he points out. You can see the results of his explorations in Trespassing, a stunning exhibit of 27 Matthews works (including a poster for that first Larimer Square show) now on display at the Denver Art Museum; although he’s been in the museum’s collection for more than a decade, this is his first show there.

And tonight at 6:30 p.m., you can get a more in-depth look at the artist’s career when the new documentary William Matthews: Drawn to Paint, co-directed by Chad Herschberger and Amie Knox (who also produced the film), screens in the lower level of the DAM’s Hamilton building. You’ll also be able to see the show — but if you miss it (or want to come back to study the incredible “Branding Arrangement”), Trespassing will be up through May 17. Tickets to the screening are $10 for museum members, $13 for others; for more information, go to denverartmuseum.org.
Fri., Jan. 23, 6:30-7:30 p.m., 2015

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun