40 Soul-Stirring Works of Art, According to the Pros

Colorado museum curators, art aficionados, architects and designers choose their favorites
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Perception by Roger Reutimann

Forty Colorado museum curators, art aficionados, architects and designers weigh in on the works of art that most stir their souls. Their answers wend from the famous and majestic—I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid at The Louvre—to the intensely personal: an indoor/ outdoor sculpture by a designer’s own mother.

I think outdoor art is difficult and can veer into the tacky rather quickly, but I love the work of Boulder sculptor Roger Reutimann. He has some big pieces from his series Perception that look like a human form in motion from one angle, but from every other angle it’s just a combination of shapes. They’re stunning. There’s one that looks like a person running—I first saw it in a courtyard and thought it was just a perfect outside piece. It deserved lots of breathing room!” — Kate Meyers of CH&L and Kate Finds Art

It’s a challenging task to pick a favorite painting. However, as I reflect on this time in our lives, I think about my job as a mother as being paramount to the well-being of my four children. The artist that jumps to my mind is Mary Cassatt (1844–1926). Cassatt, a prominent female artist of her time, captured the essence of being a nurturing, loving and devoted mother in numerous vignettes. I adore my job of being a fine-art advisor, but I love my job of being a mother even more.” — Ann Reidy of Ann Benson Reidy + Associates

I always look for Herbert Bayer’s Articulated Wall when I drive past on I-25. Despite its massiveness on-site at the Denver Design District, Bayer designed it so that it seemingly changes shape as seen from a moving car (and now the light rail).”—Gwen Chanzit of University of Denver and Denver Art Museum

From Robyn Scott

Dwelling by Barbara Sorensen

My mother, Barbara Sorensen, is an incredible artist, and I truly love all of her work. She works in many different mediums, but my favorite piece is the Dwelling. This aluminum sculpture can be installed either indoors or outdoors and in a grouping or as a single piece. It has an organic sensibility, providing shadows to add to an interior lighting scape, and adding a contemporary, edgy flair.” — Robyn Scott of Robyn Scott Interiors

Roland Bernier’s Wall of Words, which we installed at the Colorado Convention Center in 2014, provided an interesting opportunity to establish an intellectual connection between thousands of world travelers and our city. Through a ceiling of mirrored words, we were able to provide an aperture to the ever-changing depiction of our vibrant and dynamic home, forever immortalizing Roland for his 60-plus-year artistic career and his contributions to the Denver art community.” — Bobbi Walker of Walker Fine Art

One of my favorite works—Amazing Grace by Nari Ward—will be on view in an upcoming exhibition. The installation includes over 300 abandoned baby strollers, yards of fire hose and a soundtrack of Mahalia Jackson singing the gospel hymn Amazing Grace. The strollers, in various states of disrepair, speak to the lives of the children they once transported, as well those of the homeless people who repurposed them as carriers for their possessions. The powerful soundtrack suffuses the gallery with an uplifting and almost reverential tone, creating a truly singular experience for anyone who enters.” — Nora Burnett Abrams of MCA Denver

In his time-based media piece Still Men Out There, Bjorn Melhus combines light that is transmitted through 18 upended television monitors and sound passages from war-themed films. Over roughly 10 minutes, the viewer is immersed in a powerful and carefully-timed choreography of light and sound that spans the glorification and the agony of armed human conflict. Every time I experience it, I am captivated by Melhus’s ability to evoke emotions via media from popular culture and technology in an unorthodox manner.” — Sarah Melching of Denver Art Museum

“I am really inspired by experiential work, and one of my favorites from the past year was a special experience last August at the Breckenridge International Festival of the Arts. The way the event integrates nature and hiking with the discovery of art installations is such a wonderful experience. We arrived in Breckenridge and immediately hit one of the trails to discover an installation by Giuseppe Licari. As we approached the artwork, Golden Shelter, it was glowing through the trees and the temperature elevated. Licari had wrapped a section of hundreds of smaller trees in gold mylar; you could walk through the installation and feel the sun reflecting on the gold and hear the wind whip through the piece. The artwork was addressing the urgency of climate change and the importance of our forests for the survival of the planet.” — Tara Brickell of CherryArts

Stephen Hentschel 2

I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid structure in the middle of the Louvre Museum courtyard is a fine piece of architecture, as well as art being surrounded by art. It’s emotional on so many levels.” — Stephen Hentschel of Mandil, Inc.

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Sparton Nocturne Radio by Walter Dorwin Teague; 1935; Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art.

“Like many of our visitors, I am drawn to the Art Deco design movement, and I consider the Sparton Nocturne Radio to be one of the loveliest objects in our collection. A showstopper with its cobalt-blue mirrored disk, this floor model radio embodies the streamlined elegance that defines the Deco era. Designed by Walter Dorwin Teague in 1935, the radio carried an original price tag of $350, a quite exorbitant sum for that time! Luckily for Kirkland Museum guests, it remains on view as part of our permanent collection for everyone to enjoy.” — Renée Albiston of Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

Jennifer Doran 1

Maman by Louise Bourgeois

Maman by Louise Bourgeois. Passing in 2010, after having lived to 98 years old, Bourgeois is considered to be one of the most important artists of the 20th century. To experience the potency and rawness of any one of Bourgeois’ signature works is to sense a creative process compelled by deep personal introspection and brave psychological release. Through symbolism and form, the Maman sculpture reveals that the artist’s personal examinations become universal, as it encourages a level of bravery in those who view it.” — Jennifer Doran of Robischon Gallery

Andrea Schumacher

Brushstrokes by Elizabeth Monath

“As I continue to compile my grandmother’s art and work to transform it into wallcovering and textiles, I’m obsessed with her work more and more every day. She, Elizabeth Monath, has more than 50 years of artwork, and with spanning so many decades, there’s much to be inspired by. My favorite, Brushstrokes, inspired my showroom walls.” — Andrea Monath Schumacher of Andrea Schumacher Interiors

Harvey Hine

Statue of Liberty, because it represents the liberties we have lost.” — Harvey Hine of HMH Architecture + Interiors

Heidi Zuckerman

Anthropometries by Yves Klein

Yves Klein’s Anthropometries are among my most favorite works of all time. The playful presentness of the images of the YKB paint on canvas conveys for me those surprising moments of pure joy!” — Heidi Zuckerman of HiZ.art

“While studying art history in college, I had written an essay about Pietà by Michelangelo. I found the piece to be extremely moving, and heartbreaking, of the young Mary holding Jesus’s body in her arms. I had flown on an airplane only one time before, so to then find myself in Rome and to see this sculpture I had dreamt about, written about and never thought I would ever view in person left me in tears. I learned a lot about the piece in college, but to see her in real life changed me forever. — Amy Curlee of CherryArts

Jeff Stone

Desert House Party by Slim Aarons

Desert House Party by Slim Aarons. His photos remind me of a Midcentury aesthetic that I enjoy in both art and architecture. Photography is a great way to connect with another time and place, especially now.” — Jeff Stone of Artisan Outdoor Kitchens

Devon Tobin

“My favorite art piece sits on a main wall in my dining room. I inherited it from my grandmother when she passed away last year. It was given to her by her own mother, so its legacy is now stretching out nearly a 100 years. It’s a serene landscape giclée piece from an artist named Walter Kopp. I have grouped it with a pair of Clare Elasser pieces, which I recently procured during a Kate Finds Art gallery opening.” — Devon Tobin of Duet Design Group

Kristen Thomas

Large-scale, black-and-white photo by Matt Wier

“Every time we place art in a client’s home, it becomes a favorite. Since art has such a big impact on the space, both visually and emotionally, we work with the client to choose art that has meaning to them, often commissioning an original piece. Scale is very important, so we typically choose one large piece that will make an impact rather than several smaller ones. One of our favorites is a large-scale, black-and-white photo by Matt Wier of a road leading into mountain-and-cloudscape that we had printed for a client’s entryway. It adds so much interest and movement to the space.” — Kristen Thomas of Studio Thomas

“My favorite art piece constantly varies, but I think currently it’s a piece called Life Box II by artist Philippe Bertho, whom I discovered a couple years ago in a gallery in New Orleans. He’s incredible at combining a whimsical, surreal, pop-art style with striking colors, and he always includes some humorous look at society. He says: ‘To fool the eye is mechanical; to provoke the imagination is spiritual.’” — Jenny Griffin of CherryArts

“I recently purchased a piece for my own home from Meagen Svendsen that really struck me. It’s called The Thing with Feathers, and it depicts a hummingbird with a balloon. I was personally moved by her motivation in creating this beautiful series, in which she uses the metaphor of balloons to present what she describes as ‘a surreal and timely exploration of the elusive concept of hope.’” — Miranda Cullen of Duet Design Group

Apollo and Daphne by Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The marble sculpture perfectly emulates the tension within the myth and longing Apollo has for Daphne. The fragility of the piece, along with the attention to detail, creates a preciousness that I love.” — Xena Pierce of CherryArts

Maria Atlman Movie Klimt

Gustav Klimt, Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907). Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

“A favorite art piece of mine is Gustav Klimt’s Adele Bloch-Bauer painting on view at the Neue Galerie in New York City. Not only do I love the Woman in Gold, as she is commonly known, but her story of being returned after the Nazis stole this masterpiece is so compelling, as is where it now resides for viewing: in the intimate setting of a beautiful, historical house turned art gallery on the upper East Side.” — Emily Minton Redfield of Emily Minton Redfield Photography

501px Antonio Corradini Dama Velata (puritas) Museo Del Settecento Veneziano Ca' Rezzonico, Venice

Antonio Corradini – Dama Velata (Puritas) – Museo del Settecento Veneziano – Ca’ Rezzonico, Venice

“When I think of the most captivating and magical form of art, I think of sculpture, especially a veiled figure, for example Antonio Corradini’s Dama Velata (Puritas). I am in complete awe of how the artist composes this type or work. Pure genius on so many levels.” — Beth Armijo of Armijo Design Group 

Through the Looking Glass by Adam Belt. I love how the artist is playing with perspective to create an intense, vortex-like depth of space. As an interior designer, I am keenly aware of how space affects us, and this piece triggers a curiosity that draws the viewer in.” — Faris Spinosi of TVL Creative

In these times of lockdown, away from the art displayed in museums, I am more than ever reminded of the meaningful reactions one can have when experiencing art in person. This brought me back to being a youth in Italy and, in particular, to the first time I visited the Vatican Museums. I can remember to this day the impression that Caravaggio’s Deposition had on me. Never had I experienced this strong bond with a work of art. I was literally transfixed, not able to move away, and I remember being conscious of it, realizing all of a sudden that I had stood there, in front of the painting, for a very long period of time. It is hard to articulate why this particular work of art had this effect on me. Maybe I can attribute this to the dramatic light, the emotional gestures, the realism of Christ’s dead body and the savvy use of color to heighten the theatricality of the scene. I could explain the art historical significance of this painting, but I could not properly define the emotions I felt in person. This is the beauty of art. It can touch us differently, depending on how we feel at that particular moment.” — Angelica Daneo of Denver Art Museum

Debra Malik Demosthenes

VOC Jellyfish Fry by Christian Rex van Minnen; Denver Art Museum.

“The Denver Art Museum’s Christian Rex van Minnen painting entitled VOC Jellyfish Fry. The artist turns still-life convention on its head with his smoldering, jellied, burbling and distorted display of Dutch opulence and wealth—all with rollicking humor. It is provocative in a way that demands discussion, just as art should.” — Debra Malik Demosthenes of Robischon Gallery

Lauren Folkarts

I like Dan Graham’s work, because it takes the simple ubiquitous materials and forms of modern architecture and creates sculptures that emphasize our separateness in physical and metaphysical space while also showing us how inescapably linked we all are. In urban settings, the compounding reflections create ghost-like images of our surroundings and passersby, layering in unexpected ways. Seeing people without them seeing your gaze feels both voyeresque and lonely, but it also makes you realize how much the viewer’s gaze affects the actions of the gazed upon. It’s like a physical manifestation of a philosophical question… although I’m not exactly sure which one.”Lauren Folkerts of HMH Architecture + Interiors

One of my favorite artworks in Denver is Sabin Aell’s installation Beyond the Sky of Memories, permanently on display in the Elbra M. Wedgeworth Municipal Building. It mirrors the growth and change of the Five Points neighborhood. Combining imagery from the neighborhood’s past and present, Aell suspended these photographs between cascading layers of steel and plexiglass, connecting each visitor to the district’s vivid history, while also leaving enough ambiguity for the piece to reflect the district’s evolving identity.” — Libby Garon of Walker Fine Art

Van Gogh’s Chair, because it says the most with the least. It’s just a humble chair, but it tells dozens of stories about him, his life, his relationship with Gauguin, his ability to find beauty in everything and his unique capacity to touch hearts.” — Rex Brown of Pattern Shop Studio

Departure I by Al Wynne. I love Wynne’s use of color and the shapes he used to create the composition. I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Al several times as we developed Kirkland Museum’s Wynne/Wynne exhibition in 2008, which I really appreciated.” — Christopher Herron of Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

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Wildflower Study -6B, 2019, mixed media on paper, 30 x 29″

“We love the work of Jenny Pennywood/Jen Garrido. The subtlety of her work and her use of color works in any setting (traditional to modern). Her Wildflower Study series would work beautifully in a bedroom.” — Nancy Boland of Boland Lord Design

Micheline Stone

Look at Me by Romero Britto

Look at Me by Romero Britto reminds me of when my husband and I lived in Miami 20 years ago and had dinner with the artist. We went back to his gallery after dinner, where I admired this painting as it was just getting started. I have never been afraid of color, and his pop-art style always appealed to me. Jeff quietly purchased it for me as a birthday surprise and had it dedicated and signed by the artist on the back and all over the frame. It is a one-of-a-kind, with no prints of it ever made.” — Micheline Stone of Creative Living

“There is an unrecognized beauty in the art and design of our common surroundings. I love that a graffiti-based counterculture has become a fully recognized artform. Dustheads by Jean-Michel Basquiat is a masterpiece of expressive line, form and color and expressive of raw emotion.” — Stephanie Bingham of HMH Architecture + Interiors

Ej Meade

“A piece that hung in my father’s office at the Ford Foundation when I was a kid. It was painted by an artist in reaction to Robert Kennedy’s assassination in 1968. My memories of childhood days always have this image—the amazing foundation gardens and grinding his black FF pencils down to unusable stubs with his electric sharpener. That building was a great introduction to architecture for me. When my father was dying, he and I cleaned out his office, including this piece. We packed the car and started our drive home. It was one of those classic East Coast ice storms, rain freezing to the roadway. While stopped at an intersection, we were hit by a tractor-trailer truck that had lost control on the ice. Pushed through the intersection and pinned between a hydrant and the truck, we emerged from the twisted car, both unscathed. The car was totaled. With no way to carry the contents of it before it was hauled away, I crawled into the wreckage and pulled the canvas from the stretcher. It hangs now in my living room as a tribute to my father and a reminder of those office days as a kid. I did not have it restored, just re-stretched. The small white tear at the base of the piece is a trace of that day’s events. The only trace of the artist is the name “michel” en verso.” — EJ Meade of Arch11

Thalassa by Swoon. I saw this mixed-media piece in Detroit in 2016, and it completely blew me away. It’s the perfect balance of two-dimensional and three-dimensional work. When standing underneath it, it feels as if you’re swimming and the sculpture itself is moving above you. It’s absolutely stunning.” — Shaina Belton of CherryArts

Leah Civiok 2

Retna is a street artist in L.A. His paintings are a system of hieroglyphs, calligraphy and illuminated script. His distinctive graffiti style has been translated into indoor environments and communicates his personal form of poetry. His work can be found anywhere from the streets of Compton to the walls of Justin Bieber’s Hollywood mansion.” Leah Civiok of HMH Architecture + Interiors

Invasion of Mysteries near Scorpio by Kirkland Museum’s namesake, painter Vance Kirkland. He was told in art school that he shouldn’t paint ‘fighting colors.’ Thankfully, he didn’t heed that advice. His bold, contrasting color combinations are one of my favorite parts of his work, and this work is particular with the bright reds and blue and gorgeous sea-foam green! This painting is also a great example of Kirkland’s dot technique. He achieved so much texture by applying different sized dots of paint with dowels. It creates an immersive environment I’d love to get lost in.” — Maya Wright of Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

Lindsay Beukhof

Zaria Forman is a current favorite. She documents climate change through pastel drawings. Her work is so visually stunning, yet there is an undertone of tragedy and a reminder of the current state of things.” Lindsay Beukhof of HMH Architecture + Interiors

Edward VI as a Child by Hans Holbein the Younger. This portrait was the cover of a precious and very inspirational book of paintings for young children. I started relishing it at age 5. When I saw the painting in person as part of the Berger Collection at DAM, it was a thrilling connection. I’m sure my love of portraiture was influenced by this book.” — Sharon Brown of Pattern Shop Studio

Group IV, The Ten Largest, No. 1, Childhood by Hilma af Klint. This is one of many works by af Klint that I find to be totally overwhelming. She so gracefully combines her mystic aptitudes, her botanical-illustration background, and the esoteric and spiritual in abstract shapes and cryptic squiggles—plus its large scale makes the effect even more powerful.” — Katherine Bonnie of Robischon Gallery

Categories: Stylemakers