Sync Gallery Brings Connection to Denver’s Art Community

The gallery experience is all about making a personal, even physical, connection with art. As digital mediums provide non-stop access to images, and as artists reach an ever-widening audience via pictures on Instagram, there’s still no substitute for entering an art space, getting up close with the creations, examining and appreciating paintings and sculptures from many angles. That experience, personally connecting with art, can be found in abundance when wandering into Sync Gallery on Santa Fe Drive.

Sync is a cooperative gallery of 20 local artists whose creative community has been a part of the Santa Fe Arts District for 10 years. Sync began with six artists, working collaboratively and showing in the back room of a nearby shop, and it has since grown to 20 member artists in their current space at 931 Santa Fe Dr., where they’ve been for several years. Sync occupies a beautiful, inviting space with an exposed brick wall and ductwork below a lofty wooden beam ceiling that evokes a studio vibe, and the gallery just feels like art. Sync’s artists are mostly contemporary in style with an inclination for abstract art and multiple forms including mixed media. Exhibits rotate regularly with two artists generally showing in the front area, while the rear space is reserved for displaying work from all members. 

The current exhibit entitled Sync Connected is the gallery’s annual members group show, presenting work from all their artists simultaneously. The goal and theme of this year’s showreflects the idea of connections” with “each artist presenting work that demonstrates how they connect with their artwork, connect with others and how connections in the community have changed over this past difficult year.” The creative community’s approach with Connected perfectly reflects the physicality of the gallery experience, and it is also appropriate and well-timed for a world still facing the challenge of pandemic-required distancing. 

READ: The Guide to Art Districts in Denver and the Artists and Places That Make Them

Cooperative galleries often provide more than just the opportunity to get up close and personal with the art, as visitors are also fortunate to chat with the artists who take turns working the front desk. Abstract acrylic artist Pam Gilmore Hake was recently managing the floor at the end of her personal show in December. The following weekend during the premiere of the show Connected, visitors were able to talk art with Phyllis Rider whose captivating mixed media piece “Eruption” is featured on the center wall for the current show. Both Hake and Rider create a warm welcoming, as if visitors had just stopped by a friend’s living room for the afternoon. Hake was an art teacher at Arapahoe Community College for 20 years, and Rider, a lifelong working artist and a founding member of Sync, is currently holding workshops on printmaking. Their teaching experience adds to their chats about the gallery and their own pieces as they comfortably explain both process and vision. 

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Both Hake and Rider speak thoughtfully about their intent and concepts for pieces of abstract expressionism, including the script-like black lines prevalent in both their works. These lines inspire thoughts of subtle messages written into the art. Hake uses acrylic paints and acrylic oil to create multi-layered explorations of mood through color, and in her view, the strokes represent “a marriage of the head, hand and heart” as she explores movement through color. Rider, like many artists, is influenced by travel and recreating her experiences for a viewer. Her featured piece “Eruption” is inspired by her trip to the Galapagos Islands, and the bold orange splashes with streaks of black recall the volcanic history of the area. “I’m not much into blues,” she said, noting the contrast to ocean-inspired views that many people naturally associate with the Galapagos.

Other eye-catching works currently on display include the vibrant abstract geometry of both Helene Strebel and Ulla Meyer and the subtle mountain landscapes of Pat Rucker. The views that Rucker captures from various locations like Golden and Castlerock come alive with delicate yellows of the lights of Denver almost flickering in the distance. The deep resonant purples and blues catch the beauty of dusk in the foothills, as the city lights come alive. Encaustic pieces with delicate textures and colors, pop art displays with a bit of whimsy, and sparse black and white drips evoking minimalism cover the other walls of Sync with an inviting and diverse array. With artists like these, Sync offers something for everyone, and the members’ annual show is a great time to check in.

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The co-op experience is invaluable to the career growth of many artists, for it’s through collaborative experiences that they begin to understand simple utilitarian practices such as hanging paintings, using wall space, organizing an event and even speaking with the public and potential customers. “You know you go to school and learn to create your art,” Rider explains, but then the questions arise about how to make a living and how to continue to grow as an artist. In addition to Sync’s 20 regular members, the gallery also hosts additional contributing artists, as well as taking on a student each year.

The gallery experience is always worth the trip down to the Santa Fe Arts District, and Sync is one art space Denverites should consider putting on their regular rounds whenever seeking a dose of art and beauty.

Sync Gallery is located at 931 Santa Fe Dr., Denver. It is open Thursday, Friday, Sunday from 1 – 4 p.m. and Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m. “Sync Connected” runs until January 14, 2022.

All photos courtesy of Sync Gallery on Facebook.