A Week in Denver
I left Sacramento for Denver last Tuesday morning at some unGodly hour… it was still dark. After a rather short flight, we touched down at Denver International around noon; I took the train from the airport directly into downtown via Union Station.
Having taught at Art Makers Denver for the last three years, I’ve gotten pretty familiar with finding my way around this lovely, sunny, mile high city; staying close to a water bottle and lip balm is key when you come from Florida.
Once inside Union Station, I grabbed some lunch at the Acme Deli. They had great T-shirts for sale and so I picked one up for my Very Tall Boy who’s wardrobe consisted mainly of crew T-shirts from high school when he went to college earlier this month. Fingers crossed he likes it, (because you just never know with kids).
Union Station has plenty of comfortable seating with plug outlets where you can sit with your luggage and your lunch, and recharge.
Websites, WordPress, and Willow
While at the Station, I finished my blog post from last week and tried to sort out my website. Somehow I inadvertently deleted my top navigation menu on my home page and for the life of me I cannot figure out how to get it back. Trials and tribulations of being a one-woman show; WordPress quite often eludes me.
After throwing in the towel on the botched website, I unplugged and grabbed an Uber to Art Maker’s creator Helen Rice’s unique art and gift store–Willow. I offered to help Helen break down some boxes in the back so that she could close up shop and go across the street for a beer and catch up.
I’ve been teaching for Helen at Art Makers since its’ inception four years ago when she sent me a hand written letter asking me to teach for her. We’ve become good friends over the years and always take the time to connect when I come to town.
I love my job.
After our visit, Helen packed my overweight luggage into the back of her Subaru and off we went to find Martine’s place–my home away from home for the week. I met Martine and Jack on a Caribbean cruise with our favorite band… Big Head Todd and The Monsters, last March. We’ve stayed in touch and I was excited to see them again.
A Day to Play
On Wednesday I was able to grab lunch at the famous Cricket Burger with two special girlfriends from the band. Thanks ladies for coming to pick me up and for great company and a good meal! I have the best friends in the most amazing places.
After lunch I ventured toward downtown Denver at the Art Museum where I met up with Art Biz Success coach Alyson Stanfield. Alyson is an art marketing coach who I’ve known for years and always make time for when I’m in Denver! We took in a lecture and exhibit of paintings by Julie Buffalohead who talked about her inspiration, personal connection, and the symbolism in her work. The museum presented a talk by a great panel of women who provided an opportunity for the audience to ask questions of Julie about her pieces.
After the lecture Alyson and I went up to the gallery to see Julie’s work in person and really enjoyed examining it up close. I enjoyed Julie’s use of animal imagery to convey cultural concepts of her Native American heritage and I enjoyed her use of line work and drawing mixed with painting. Julie explained to us in her lecture that her clan honors the deer–she employs imagers of deer, coyote, foxes, crows, rabbits, and raccoon images in her work. Often the coyote is portrayed as a female, wearing dresses, high heels, and lipstick in her paintings.
Alyson and I never miss an opportunity to talk shop, so we headed to Cuba-Cuba Cafe for some fantastic food and great conversation after the exhibit. Alyson gave me some great ideas for managing my art inventory and I shared with her how I marketed and sold the majority of my art from the closed Sedona Gallery this month. We love talking about art and artists, but we also talk about the business side of art such as photography for marketing, contributing to self employed retirement programs, giving presentations and speeches, as well as work related travel.
Alyson is headed to Santa Fe to give a keynote for an encaustics guild later in the week, we compared notes on great places to visit and the fact that I still have never been to Santa Fe or Taos. “Really?” “Really!” It’s on my list and now that I’ve got an empty nest, I’ll have to start looking at that list!
Throughout the week Martine, Jack, and I had some great laughs, delicious food (thanks Jack for cooking breakfast ever day!) and good fun. It was a wonderful opportunity to spend time together, thanks for the hospitality guys!
Martine took the day off so we could go exploring on Thursday. We headed to Central City, an old gold mining town, where we took in a tour of the old Teller Hotel and Opera House. This is the wild west with lots of stories about the gold rush and times when this town was bigger than Denver. What a great tour guide we had in Alan who gave us tons of history on the town. “The richest square mile in the country at one time!” Alan took us through a time warp to when the town was booming and the population was at its peak.
After exploring Central City, Martine and I decided to grab an early dinner in nearby Idaho Springs at the Toomyknockers brewery. It was fun taste testing their microbrew dark beers and indulging in a buffalo burger as we watched the sun get low in the sky and the shadows grow long.
“This is my favorite time of day.” I told Martine as I gazed out the window to see a yellow glow cast over Main Street. We had some time after dinner to briefly pop into some galleries, buy some homemade soap, and appreciate the beauty of this small, historic mountain town.
Let the Art Making Begin!
Friday started my two days of workshops at Art Makers Denver. I was so excited to attend this event as a student this year! I’ve been looking forward to being a student of Jennifer Mercede and Kirsten Denbow for months, and the moment was finally here!
Jennifer taught us to scribble, to scratch, and to doodle. She had us warm up with blind contour drawing and then with a round robin of a doodle page in our sketchbooks. There were 14 of us and we all were enjoying getting loose and not worrying about what our work was looking like.
After loosening up we did a wonderful exercise in color mixing that was really helpful! Jennifer encouraged us to try mixing colors we didn’t even like, and to make combos that we wouldn’t normally consider. I really enjoyed this exercise, and I enjoyed being the student even more!
I sat next to Julie, a former student of mine at Art Makers Denver for years. “How fun it is for us to both be together on this side of the table!” I exclaimed to Julie, we did have fun sitting together and posing for each others’ blind contour drawings!
Day two was jewelry making with Kirsten Denbow who’s work I have admired ever since we taught together here in Denver several years ago. Kirsten taught us how to use precious metal clay (PMC) which is an incredibly versatile material. PMC is metal clay that is moldable, sandable, drillable, and very much like clay… until you fire it. When you fire PMC all the binder is burned away and what you are left with is just metal.
We worked with copper PMC and made our own charms for a necklace. After firing we learned how to wire, make hooks, drill metal, torch wire, use jump rings, combine and ultimately end up with a necklace!
How cool is that?
Kirsten is an amazingly patient and positive instructor, she lend a hand to anyone needing help, gave great demos, was positive and upbeat and provided all the tools we needed. After a day of making my own necklace and learning a few tricks from Kirsten, I appreciated even MORE her amazing work and the labor that goes into it.
Good Food, Great Company
Saturday night Jack, Martine, and I were invited to dinner at the home of Bob and Gabby, another couple we had met on the Big Head Todd cruise this past March. What a GREAT night we had sharing photos, laughing, painting (yes, I somehow got talked into doing some watercolor on demand!) engaging with the couple’s two amazing daughters, eating awesome food prepared by Gabby and taking a spin in Bob’s restored hot rod with an engine that rumbled like nobody’s business! (Martine and I felt just like teenagers giggling in the back seat as we cruised around Bob and Gabby’s neighborhood)
Pinch me. The best part of my job is the people I meet.
Located near Jack and Martine is the Stanley Marketplace, an old aviation building from when the Denver airport was in their backyard. They’ve since built a new DIA but this community of 50+ independently owned Colorado businesses offers a places to eat, drink, shop, exercise, and play. I thought it was a neat way to preserve the Stanley Aerospace company’s original Aurora building!
All Good Things…
Sunday morning Jack made us one last awesome breakfast of scrambled eggs with veggies, toast, coffee and Sriracha sauce. We threw my oversized and overweight suitcases in the back of Martine’s Jeep (‘m still dragging around my workshop teaching supplies) and headed for the airport. I secretly wondered what I would do if my suitcase was overweight… i’ve picked up a few things along the way.
Martine and Jack were generous to give me a ride to the United Airlines terminal of the DIA. Big hugs at the curb, what a great visit we had. I’m very grateful for the generous hospitality this week, I’m one lucky duck.
I’m closing in on my last week of six weeks on the road. As I write, I’m in an isle seat en route to New Orleans to meet my fellow Golden Artist Educator artists. Some emails back and forth about transportation to the hotel on the other end proved that Colette (whom I’ve not yet met) and I are on the same flight, AND she’s sitting just two rows up from me!
It’s hard to miss fellow artists with pink hair.
Stay tuned for more Tales from the Empty Nest this week, my last week on the road. Myself and 19 other teaching artists are about to descend on New Orleans for a week of art, food, and friendship.
for being a part of my