Inside the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art
The Kirkland Museum began as a way to honor the late Vance Kirkland. As an artist and philanthropist, Kirkland was influential to many in the art community. After his passing, family friend Hugh Grant became executor of his estate and founded the museum in his memory. The original location opened on Pearl Street in 2003 sharing a building with Vance Kirkland’s studio and art school. In 2014 they moved to a new location on 12th and Bannock, with the studio and school following shortly after. The museum specializes in fine and decorative arts with an emphasis on Colorado artists. They have over 4,000 pieces on display at any given time. There are paintings of all sizes, an assortment of ceramic, metal, and glass sculptures, dishes, radios, ashtrays, decanters, telephones, clocks, chairs and other furniture in every imaginable shape, the list goes on. Their collections are vast to say the least. They include more than 30,000 pieces from 1,500 different artists spanning 150 years. They have three permanent collections on display as well as several rotating exhibitions each year. The current featured exhibit is by artist Elizabeth Yanish Shwayder.
Shwayder is a renowned artist and sculptor who dedicated decades of her life to promoting art in the Denver area. Her work has been featured in collections across the U.S., Italy, and England. This series titled, Welded and Fabricated Poetry: The Artistic Life of Elizabeth Yanish Shwayder, is the largest display of her work ever compiled. It includes 50 pieces spanning her entire career. Arranged chronologically, the audience can see her progression in a thorough representation of her life’s work. There are a few of her early paintings, but the majority of her pieces are metal fabrications ranging from abstract shapes and arrangements to more real-world depictions. The series culminates in a piece called, Wings of Gold. This impressive sculpture is made from polished steel and glimmering bronze. In this piece Shwayder combines themes from a number of her earlier works on a large scale. It consists of triangular
shapes of various sizes joined together in a horizontal line. Instead of being mounted on a wall or free standing like her other pieces, it sits on a slender metal stand.
Everything in the Kirkland Museum is interesting and merits a closer look. It’s easy to lose an entire afternoon there. The curators appropriately honor the late Vance Kirkland with an entire room dedicated to his paintings and numerous other pieces spread throughout the museum. They also have a replica of his studio on display, complete with straps hanging from the ceiling for creating his larger works. Shwayder’s series is comprehensive and masterful, showcasing her very best work.
The Kirkland Museum is located at 1201 Bannock Street in the Golden Triangle. The museum is open to anyone 13 or older, 11-5 Tuesday through Saturday and 12-5 on Sundays. Shwayder’s current series will be on display through January 6TH, 2019.