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Colorado Springs Abstract

February 28, 2009 - April 19, 2009

“ambitious, smartly assembled” — Denver Post

Abstraction has been a vibrant tradition among Colorado Springs artists since the 1950s. Some painters and sculptors have sought abstraction to represent intangible subjects from psychological states to spirituality; others have embraced pure color, shape, and form in works of striking beauty.

Two related shows were recently on view at Denver’s Kirkland Museum and Center for Visual Art, in association with the newly published book, “Colorado Abstract: Paintings and Sculpture.”

Colorado Springs Abstract distills this theme to a more local level, focusing exclusively on the history of abstraction in the Colorado Springs area. The exhibit features 80 paintings, prints and sculptures in the El Pomar Gallery.

Though pure abstraction was initially developed by European artists, it was adopted as a definitively American art form in the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, and took shape in Colorado Springs as the academically- based Broadmoor Art Academy transitioned into the Fine Arts Center School and began to recognize Modernist forms. While some Broadmoor Academy artists such as Charles Bunnell shifted from landscapes to abstract painting, younger artists were influenced by the vitality of renowned east coast abstract painters such as color theorist Josef Albers, or Robert Motherwell, the great Abstract Expressionist who taught at the Fine Arts Center School in 1953.

Artists featured in the exhibit include Charles Bunnell, Herman Raymond, Herbert Bayer, Robert Motherwell, Emerson Woelffer, Mary Chenoweth, James Trissel, Eric Bransby, Lew Tilley, Ellen O’Brien, Bill Burgess, Betty Ross, Don Green, Bill Hyer, Dawn Wilde, Holly Parker, and Corey Drieth.

“We chose multiple works from each artist for the show, to illuminate the breath of abstract investigations by some, and the meticulous pursuit of profound ideas by others,” FAC Curator Blake Milteer said.

Colorado Springs Abstract is a snapshot of abstraction in Colorado Springs, not a comprehensive survey. Every exhibition evolves according to a succession of opportunities and hurdles, as well as aesthetic and conceptual choices that are unique to that exhibition.
There are several renowned artists who do not appear in the exhibition, but do appear elsewhere. For example, Floyd Tunson and Pard Morrison have both had important abstract works on exhibit here recently and appear in the first floor permanent collection galleries. Ken Goehring paintings were also on display here recently, and his painting from our permanent collection will soon be installed in the first floor galleries.