Passport to Paris: Parisian Art at the Denver Art Museum

Located in the Civic Center of Denver, CO, the Denver Art Museum is a striking building housing some seriously impressive artwork.  Recently, they’ve had the honor of presenting a temporary exhibit called “Passport to Paris,” which includes three exhibitions of French art from the late 1600s to early 1900s. I had the opportunity to visit the exhibits, and I can honestly say that the Denver Art Museum put together a wonderful show that’s definitely worth the trip.

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The “Passport to Paris” exhibit at the Denver Art Museum includes three shows – Nicolas Poussin’s “Crucifixion” is part of the “Court to Cafe” collection.

“Court to Café” Explores Three Centuries of Art History

Borrowed from Wadsworth Atheneum, this 50 painting tour through the centuries is the main attraction of “Passport to Paris.”  We had to reserve a tour time and purchase our tickets online before arriving at our specified time.  The slots fill up fast, so following this step is crucial to getting into the tour.  Even though we were there on a weekday afternoon, it was quite crowded.

They gave us individual audio guides for the walk-through, and we were free to wander through three centuries of French art at our leisure.  The exhibit is purposefully set up to give the viewer a glimpse into each time period, showing the progression of artistic style through the ages.  The Denver Art Museum put a lot of effort into creating an experience as you move through the stylized space.  Speakers playing music from the time period being represented are strategically placed throughout, paintings are paired with gorgeous furniture pieces and clothing from their eras, and even the wallpaper behind the paintings mimics the designs of the time.

The audio guide helpfully explains how art progressed from formal, darker depictions like Nicolas Poussin’s “Crucifiction” to airy, light outdoor scenes like “The Beach at Trouville” by Claude Monet.  Artists began breaking the traditional rules of painting during the Impressionist era, taking their easels to paint outdoors rather than inside stuffy studios like their predecessors.  The resulting artwork capturing natural landscapes in vivid colors without lines was entirely new to the art world.

“Nature as Muse” Shows Progression of Landscape Art

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Claude Monet’s “Waterloo Bridge, Sunlight Effect” is one Impressionist painting in the “Nature as Muse” exhibit.

This collection of 36 French landscape paintings is a quicker walk-through than the elaborate “Court to Café,” but you could spend a lot more time just staring at the incredible paintings presented here.  These are big name painters, some of the most famous in the world, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, to name a few.  The Denver Art Museum director, Christoph Heinrich, put this exhibit together from the museum’s permanent collection and works owned by Frederic C. Hamilton.

As Ray Mark Rinaldi of The Denver Post puts it, the “Nature as Muse” is a more intimate, scalable look at the progression of French art from the 1600s to the era of Impressionism.  The narrowed subject matter, namely landscapes, makes it easier to see the changes of artistic style through time.

“Drawing Room” Features Gorgeous, Delicate Work

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Jean-François Millet’s delicate drawing, “The Diggers,” is part of the “Drawing Room” exhibit.

By far and away my favorite exhibit was the “Drawing Room” – a collection of 39 works on paper in media like various colors of ink, pastels, graphite, chalk, and even crayon.  The pieces are arranged in backlit glass cases and show French art in a completely different way than the rest of the show.  Bent over the small scale artwork, you can get a close look at how immensely talented these artists truly were.  A few strokes of a pen can produce a picture of such detail that it takes your breath away.

The Denver Art Museum has put together an incredible show.  If you are lucky enough to see it before it is over, plan to spend a little more time than you think because it is a collection well worth a second and even a third look.

Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons – First, Second, Third

A Stressful World

I have been stressed out of my head lately, and it’s all my own fault.  I came to this realization in the shower today.  I thought to myself, wait a second, self, everything you are freaking out about getting done will get done in due time.  In fact, most of the stress I was feeling was because of unreasonable projects I’ve thrust upon myself.  And when I am unable to accomplish them, I wallow in self-loathing and self-doubt.  Sure, getting to the gym every single day is a noble goal, but is it reasonable when I have several projects and commitments this week that all take precedence over an hour of misery at the gym?  Am I likely to rise every morning at 7:30am after having been up working till 1am the previous night to get that “oh-so-necessary” jump start on my day?  Heck no.  Can I please give myself a break about this?  Maybe…

I have been participating in a sort of on-going SEO writer training program with an online newspaper.  They ask that we submit an article every day for two weeks.  That, in itself, doesn’t sound that unreasonable, but add in all the critiques I write for my class, the novel I desperately need to finish, and the other writing projects I’ve signed up for, sprinkle in a little family wedding going on tomorrow (!) and you have one great recipe for a trip to crazy town.  If you’d like to check out my baby steps into SEO article writing, here is the link to what I have up so far (full disclosure, I am paid based on page views.  If you like an article or two, please send them along to your friends and earn my undying gratitude).

It is times like these that living in a beautiful place really helps to put things into perspective.  If I feel like tearing out all of my hair and need to get away from the computer, I am blessed to live only steps away from a footpath that winds around some seriously gorgeous scenery.  I’ll walk the dogs between ponds with a backdrop of that Rocky Mountain horizon and get the strength to keep going.  I hope you have a place to go to clear your head from the hustle and bustle of the day too, if only for a minute.  I firmly believe that taking breaks has regenerative power.  If you don’t have the great outdoors to escape to, there’s always Hulu.  😉


Happy puppies

They live for these walks!

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This little guy lives in the pond and loves to hang out on these man-made islands.

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PS:  I have two trips back to Nevada planned over the coming weeks.  Be on the lookout for some great pictures and advice on these crazy cities from an insider, coming soon!

A Nevada Girl Moved to Denver

Whenever I tell people that I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, inevitably the reply is Whhaaa? People live there?  It makes for a unique distinction to be sure.  I mean, who comes from Vegas?  Where do they go when they leave?  The answer for my husband and I was the beautiful state of Colorado.  Denver, CO to be more specific.  We got out of Nevada at the first opportunity, and boy, were we lucky to end up here.

The biggest difference I noted with awe when we arrived in our new hometown was the buildings.  This might sound strange, but the buildings downtown got me excited.  I’ve been around tall, bedecked, extravagant high-rises my whole life, but the ones here in Denver, in a real city, were completely different in one key aspect.  They weren’t casinos.  This is the first thing I tell people about the difference between Vegas and any other city is that everything there is a casino.  There are slot machines in the grocery stores.  When you want to go out and do something, see a movie, go bowling, go ice skating, you go to a casino.  Teenagers hang out in food courts where an edge of carpeting is all that separates them from the dinging, flashing, gambling machines a few feet away.  After a while, you don’t even notice them.  The pervasiveness of the slot machine is universal there.

Things I love about Colorado:  There is green.  I mean the color green, outside.  There are changes of season beyond hot wind/cold wind.  Snow!  The smell of rain on the air.  Parks you can walk in and trails to take your bike.  Giant mountains.  Purple mountain majesty?  I finally get that now.  Vegas is surrounded by mountains too, but they are nothing like the Rockies.  It is like comparing a sickly circle of shrubs to a lush forest.  Restaurants are all over the place downtown, and you don’t have to hike a mile and a half into a casino to get to them.  Broadway plays at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (also not in a casino!) or smaller local fares in places like the Boulder dinner theater.  Brunch downtown.  Skiing and snowboarding.  Little mountain towns like Breckenridge only a few hours away.  The universal love of dogs.  Open space you want to be in.  The zoo.  I’m crazy about the zoo.  Sports!  Nevada has no big sports teams.  The stadiums are beyond cool.

Things I miss about Vegas: 24 hour food service, free parking everywhere, top-notch air conditioning, pools galore, and In-N-Out.