Art with Heart: The Governor’s Art Show 2023

“They say art imitates life, but really art illuminates life.”

That enlightening comment comes from Colorado painter Lisa Hewitt, an artist in this year’s Governor’s Art Show 2023, which premiered at the Loveland Museum on Saturday, May 6. This year’s show offers hundreds of pieces from 62 of Colorado’s most illuminating artists. Their broad range of works shines a thoughtful, inspired light on Colorado life and the state’s vibrant art scene.

The annual event offers a richly curated show with a little something for everyone, from majestic landscapes to intricate and refined sculptures to a vast collection of still lifes, portraits and captivating abstract pieces reflecting the colors of Colorado.

Governor's Art Show 2023

Governor’s Art Show 2023. Image provided by Governor’s Art Show.

In the era of Instagram and online art stores, the Governor’s Show, which returned last year after a pandemic hiatus, offers a wonderful spotlight on the human connection to art. Show director Ruth Scott described the vibrant energy of the Opening Gala on Friday night.

“It was so fun with a great crowd,” Scott said, adding “we had record sales the first night, including some first-time buyers.” The show offers a diversity of price points, and with 17 new artists Scott “always tells people, if you see an artist you like, consider buying a piece now.” All works are available for sale, and while the catalog is online, photos are no substitute for seeing the works up close.

Fostering that personal connection, the show features regular meet and greets every Saturday from 2:00–4:00, enabling visitors to connect with artists, and artists to spend time with each other. There’s a brightness to the conversations and the art, as painters like Lisa Hewett and David Wicks discuss color palettes and shading techniques or debate the challenges of orange. Whether it’s the rain droplets glistening off the poppy in Hewitt’s “After the Rain,” or the delicate movement on ripples of water in Wicks’ “Boat Reflections,” the paintings shine with details and stories. In chatting about his focus on boats, Wicks, a prolific artist in multiple media, laughed saying “I don’t sail. Heck, I can’t even swim.” Regardless, his art provides much to talk about.

Governor's Art Show 2023

Artist, Lisa Hewett’s Alpine Afterglow. Image provided by Governor’s Art Show.

“I love when I feel like I can just walk into a painting,” one young man commented while looking at “Softly Falling,” a stunning landscape from Dix Baines. The impressionist scene’s calm waters and glowing light through the trees grabbed the attention of Matt and Larissa, a young couple visiting Colorado from Pennsylvania. They had stopped by the show after hearing about it during a fortuitous encounter with sculptor Lincoln Fox at their hotel breakfast buffet. Fox is one of this year’s featured Legacy Artists, along with Montrose-based painter Gordon Brown. The Legacy artists are previous show contributors selected for excelling in their careers and serving as “an inspiration to up-and-coming artists.”

Wandering the expansive gallery, Matt said the paintings “make me want to explore more of the nature of Colorado,” and the couple was heading to Estes Park for a day of hiking. With each piece, Matt observed “every painting tells me a story. Like I’m wondering where this trail goes. What animal might walk through this scene?” The couple was particularly taken by Dan Augenstein’s coastal landscape and the bright pink and purple Colorado vistas of Rick Young with his signature curved brush strokes. Augenstein’s plein air work resulted from a year of traveling, and his scene from the Maine coast was familiar to Matt.

Governor's Art Show 2023

Rick Young’s Going to the Daw. Image provided by Governor’s Art Show.

Another captivating story is found in Denise Dambrackas’ “62 Lbs of Prevention,” a mixed media piece from her Future Feminine series, which “ventures to smash gender-based limitations and inspire the girls of today, with imagery that showcases them in fearless pursuit of their raw aspirations.” Dambrackas doesn’t pre-plan her young models’ scenes, but one “became Tank Girl,” the comic book character. Painted at the time of the Marshall Fire, the piece features a fearless girl holding a chainsaw, preparing to clear wood as fires creep over the tree line. She’s ready to do what she can to help. “This is the world they live in,” the artist noted, acknowledging the lollipop in the child’s mouth evoking a poignant contrast between innocence and experience.

In addition to a wide offering of oil, acrylic, and mixed media pieces, the show features a compelling arrangement of sculptures throughout the gallery. The calm contemplative bronze cat in “Simplicity” from Rosetta, a local sculptor, is the essence of nature at repose. She contrasts that with a bronze lion titled “Don’t Mess with Me.” The delicate complexity of nature is found in works like “Wandering Alone,” a purple dandelion crafted by Ana Maria Botero whose single dimension paintings on glass “use the magic of empty space” to create a 3D effect with layers. And Casey Horn’s hard-to-ignore bronze pieces like “Beauty,” “Dream,” & “Mindfulness” “contemporize the two-dimensional art of calligraphy into three-dimensional sculptures.”

Bursts of color are sprinkled throughout the gallery, including Gregory Block’sGoldrush”  which welcomes visitors with a pop art-influenced depiction of candy wrappers and soda cans. At the other end of the gallery, the fresh “Scent of Flowers,” a vibrant abstract piece from Karen Scharer, nearly jumps off the wall.

Governor's Art show 2023

Elizabeth Rouland’s Gherkin Palooza. Image provided by Governor’s Art Show.

There’s a real sense of fun in many paintings like “Gherkin Palooza” and “Chilly Dilly” from Elizabeth Rouland, a delightful painter whose passion is reflected in her exploration of pickled vegetables. When the pandemic limited her ability to paint human figures, she found inspiration around the house, enjoying the way light came through her kitchen windows. By contrast, in Rouland’s intriguing restaurant kitchen scene “Tadich Quintet” the artist “enjoyed playing with abstraction in this piece and challenging myself with a limited color palette.” The stark white and gray captures the intensity of a dinner rush, and Rouland “worked music into the title to reflect the energy of the kitchen.”

The Governor’s Art Show has been a fixture in the Colorado art scene for 32 years. Presented by the Rotary clubs of Loveland and Thompson Valley, the show is endorsed by the Governor’s office to support and encourage investment in the arts. In his greeting, Governor Polis, who attended the opening gala on Friday, May 5, notes “Here in Colorado, we are so proud of the vibrant and creative arts and culture scene, and the Governor’s Art Show is a wonderful way to celebrate Colorado’s talented arts … [and] foster an environment where artists will thrive.”

The show is also a philanthropic venture, with one-third of net proceeds going to the Thompson Education Foundation. They support at-risk youth, provide art scholarships for students, several of whom are represented in the show, and fund art supplies for Thompson School District. With the collaboration between the Rotary club and sponsors of the show, Ruth Scott noted “We’re able to keep kids in school” and support continuing arts education. Hosted by the Loveland Museum, the show is a great reason to visit downtown Loveland, and with a dozen or more galleries and restaurants nearby, it’s easy to make a day of it.

The Governor’s Art Show 2023 runs from May 6 through June 11, and tickets for non-members are $7.

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