Welcome to the first installation of City Prism. Law is what we do and a part of who we are, but our lives are fully immersed in the people, places and perspectives that create Denver’s identity. Deeply entwined with our legal practice is our love of place. This is our opportunity to share our personal insights.
The Golden Triangle neighborhood has officially welcomed a long-anticipated resident–the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art. With a sleek $22 million building that seamlessly integrates a century-old studio (the relocation process being its own story), the newly reopened museum now has the capacity to exhibit about 6,000 art objects (still only 1/5 of the entire collection). The gallery rooms are similar to visiting the home of an eccentric and extremely rich aunt, with paintings hanging over the furniture from the same time period. It would be downright impossible to focus on every single object. Better to focus on the objects that capture your imagination–whether it is the intricate china sets, funky lamps, or highly impractical chairs–and ruminate on what you would pick out for your own living room.
Despite the vast collection of decorative art items, the artwork of the museum’s namesake, Vance Kirkland, stands its own ground. Kirkland refused to limit himself to a single signature painting style–even when his own wife would not visit his studio (she didn’t understand abstraction). Kirkland initially painted Rocky Mountain landscapes, then progressed into surrealist worlds of deadwoods and other biomorphic forms, and ultimately arrived at pure abstraction. The Dot Paintings near the end of his career prove to be the most striking. As a synaesthetic who perceived sound as color, he used dissonant classical music to inspire the color combinations of his abstract works. He would then paint by suspending himself over the canvases with straps attached to the ceiling–a contraption that is displayed in Kirkland’s preserved workroom. If only the museum would pipe in some of Kirkland’s favorite musical compositions to create a truly immersive experience. In essence, the museum pays homage to a Colorado artist that quietly, yet persistently, changed the art world.
The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art joins the Denver Art Museum, Clyfford Still Museum, History Colorado Center, Byers-Evans House Museum, the ART hotel, and numerous art galleries, further cementing the cultural significance of the Golden Triangle Creative District.
The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art is located at 1201 Bannock Street. For more information, visit kirklandmuseum.org.