Best Art Gallery Openings 2018 | RedLine Contemporary Art Center | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Courtesy RedLine Contemporary Art Center

When you're headed to an opening at RedLine, it's hard not to recall what this part of town was like ten years ago, when parking was plentiful. While that situation has changed dramatically, RedLine has stayed true to its mission of providing an arts incubator for Denver. And on opening nights, a refrigerator. There's often a generous spread to match the free booze, which gets conversation flowing just as freely. This is a see-and-be-seen scene, but don't get so caught up in socializing that you forget to look at the art. Not only is the work in the show opening that night worth your attention, but many of the studios in back will be open, too, where artists will be happy to part with recent pieces to anyone carrying cash or a checkbook.

Readers' Choice: Denver Art Museum

MCA Denver

Don't wait for an opening-night to party at MCA Denver. There's always something going on at the museum, from a spring series that features comedic storytelling captured on a live podcast to yoga in the galleries to a new lending library of art by local artists to discussions on matters great and small to, yes, exhibit openings. And if by chance you happen by the MCA on a day when the only official activities are viewing already-open (but invariably interesting) shows, you can always pop up to the rooftop cafe and make your own party. Mark your calendar for the MCA's upcoming fundraising bashes, which have become legendary around town.

Courtesy Understudy Facebook page

Understudy, a project operated and funded by the Denver Theatre District, debuted last October as 700 square feet of unfettered creative experimentation, offering free, short, changing residencies in a dedicated nook of the Colorado Convention Center. Since then, we've seen musical collaborations, art installations, art discussions, new models in art marketing, hands-on activities and, ending March 30, "The Little Chapel of Our Holy Motherboard," an interactive device stoked with digital animations poking fun at the deification of 21st-century technologies. It's the kind of place where you can slip in and out during lunch hour — or spend hours chatting with Denver creatives.

Over the past few years, artist Jonathan Saiz has been experimenting with different and self-generated ways of approaching the business of art while bypassing gallery representation. The latest is 7000 Reasons, a collaboration with friend and fellow painter Wes Magyar that pitches colorful seven-by-seven-inch portraits with a happy theme over a period of seven months. Each painting goes for $143, a fair price for works by the two established artists, and they're taking orders through July. While their goal is to sell 7,000 artworks in that time and to collect them in a book, that's not really the point, they say. After all, here's 7000 Reasons' motto: "We know life isn't all rainbows and unicorns, but 7000 Reasons will be!" Catch a rainbow for yourself.

Steven Frost

Boulder artist and University of Colorado Boulder instructor Steven Frost is a disciple of Carol Frances Lung, aka Frau Fiber, whose Sewing Rebellion movement invites people to commemorate sweat-shop laborers and their essential work through sewing projects. Frost, an official "Faux Frau," carries on Lung's mission locally by mentoring free monthly DIY sewing workshops at the Boulder Public Library's BLDG 61 Makerspace, where he encourages participants to upcycle used materials in creating everything from bike caps to Halloween costumes. Visit the Facebook page for a schedule and register in advance, as classes fill up fast.

Clyfford Still Museum archivist Jessie de la Cruz and photographer Sigri Strand put their heads together to create Arthyve, a nonprofit with the goal of helping Colorado artists document their work for posterity in digital and/or physical memory banks. To accomplish this, they've hosted workshops and symposia to get artists started on their own boxes, with plans to expand in the future. It's their way of acknowledging how our state's arts community makes Colorado a better place to live, now and in the future.

Denver real estate is at a premium, and the squeeze is putting artists in an especially difficult position, as studio space is limited and affordability is even more rare. Welcome to Camp Kalamath. The warehouse — owned by visual artist Tom Bond — is tucked away in an industrial area of Englewood, and the low-slung mid-century modern building doesn't look like much from the outside. But inside Camp Kalamath, the possibilities are endless, with room after room and garage after garage packed with muralists, woodworkers, welders, sign fabricators, industrial designers and even a car-restoration expert. Some of Denver's most-seen public artists have found a home here, with the likes of Jaime Molina, Anthony Garcia Sr. and Victor Escobedo sharing studio walls as well as inspiration. Happy campers, indeed.

Denverite Sommer Browning is many things — a librarian, a poet, a comic artist and sometime standup — but last year, she added gallerist to her résumé by opening up her garage near the Art District on Santa Fe for exhibits and happenings on a small and intimate scale. Georgia Art Space, named after her inspiring daughter, is part of a think-small movement favoring artist-run spaces on the edge of a rapidly commercialized art world, and it's not over yet. After a break, Browning is now in the throes of planning for 2018 events.

Courtesy Colfax Museum Facebook page

Musician, archivist and Colfax enthusiast Jonny Barber (aka the Velvet Elvis) makes no bones about his love for Denver's longest main drag, but he turned it up a notch last year by opening Denver's first and only Colfax Museum, a loving repository of Colfax lore, trivia and historical collectibles. The museum recently relocated from West Colfax to East Colfax, where it now resides inside the Ed Moore Florist shop on the boundary of Denver's Montclair and Park Hill neighborhoods. Regular hours are Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. — and, yes, the museum has T-shirts.

Courtesy Clyfford Still Museum Facebook page

People from around the world come to Denver specifically to visit the Clyfford Still Museum, so if you've got friends and family coming to town, they should see it, too. Still, an acknowledged master of abstract expressionism, had only the slightest association with Colorado before his death. In his will, he dictated that any American city willing to build a museum to house his oeuvre would receive the collection, and Denver stepped up in 2004 when then-mayor John Hickenlooper committed to meeting the requirements of the will. Housed in an austerely elegant concrete pavilion, the Still is home to 95 percent of the artist's output, so if you want to see his classic, often massively sized compositions, this is where you have to do it. But the museum is a great place for in-towners, too, because director Dean Sobel keeps things lively by constantly changing out pieces.

Readers' Choice: Denver Museum of Nature & Science

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