Arvada awash in Colorado art

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When the Arvada Center's curator, Collin Parson, put out a call to all interested Colorado artists for the first Art of the State show, he received 1,635 entries from 588 entrants — in all media.

Even though he has 10,000 square feet of gallery space, in three parts, to work with (upstairs and on the first level), jurying them presented a challenge.

Parson and Dean Sobel, director of the Clyfford Still Museum, finally managed to select 191 works by 160 emerging and established artists — still a very large number of works to try to view at one time. The exhibit runs until March 31.

Included are a number of strong, interesting works — many by lesser-known artists.

The general flavor is quite contemporary, although there are some traditional works. The art shows especially well in the handsome, well-lit, nicely arranged Main Gallery.

Fine crafts are strong: There are a number of unusual fiber art creations and ceramics. Sara Ransford's delicate soda-fired porcelain piece, “Bring on the Rain,” with its subtle colors and tissue-thin layers, is particularly appealing and well-crafted, inviting a close look.

Of much coarser texture, but also appealing, is Walter Barton's sculpture, “Ursa Artos,” a life-sized bear, fashioned of wood and bark. One can almost hear it snarl.

The Best of Show award was given to Scarlett Kanistanaux for her handsome stoneware sculpture, “Quiet Mind,” a head measuring 48x48x12. Beautifully crafted, it stands out with its sleek lines, as well as its size.

Theater attendees can find this one in the upstairs Theater Gallery at intermission, but in order to get even a halfway good look at this extensive exhibit, one should plan to arrive more than an hour before show time — or make a separate trip another day.

Actually, I suspect two trips are needed to really absorb it all. After spending a Saturday afternoon roaming, I feel that I missed a lot.

If you go

The Arvada Center is at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada. “Art of the State” runs through March 31.

The first-floor gallery closes at 7:30 p.m. on performance evenings, and all three galleries are open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays; noon-5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free. 720-898-7200.

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