Amie York and Aj Kiel at VSA Colorado
I met with Very Special Arts (VSA) Colorado Executive Director Damon McLeese at Access Gallery + Studio in Denver to check out work by the artists Aj Kiel and Amie York. He let me poke around and look at the work both in the gallery and their more private work areas. The storefront is part of the Art District on Santa Fe and operates as a studio most days of the week with work tables surrounded by working artists, staff, and visiting artists. On first and third Fridays the space is cleaned up to its white walls and is a formal gallery with exhibitions rotating approximately every month and a half.
This program supports a complex variety of artists, community, and educators. VSA Colorado/ Access Gallery is part of the larger international nonprofit program that supports artistically talented youth with disabilities in their transition from high school to adulthood. Artists in the program are supported with “studio space, professional mentoring, art supplies, opportunities to connect with the community, and make money.” It is a great residency program for the artists and for the public. The viewer encounters new patterns of intertwining parts of the human experience.
During my visit, I was really taken with Kiel’s abstracted paintings of people with stoplight heads. He’s working completely from memory, transcribing impressions of his experiences, people, and the complicated act of traveling around Denver on public transit. Kiel’s work is confident, fresh, hip-hop, and without inhibition. Ranging from brushy to flattened space, Kiel’s figurative compositions are both simplified and complex. I’d hang any of his pieces in my home and can’t wait to see his finished sculpture piece.
Amie York, another of Access Gallery’s artists, is a talented illustrator whose work details her magical transformations. The piece, Weather Change, is a 9.5 x 7.5-inch pen and colored-pencil drawing of the artist passing between self and animal. York’s color-changing fur reflects a “winter coat.” This piece just returned from exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution, received a $2,000 award of excellence, and is part of Sustaining/ Creating, a traveling exhibition from the The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Center’s Emerging Artists Program.
According to VSA, York is a first-generation Cambodian American whose goals include university-level art training. She’s pushing herself, producing, and exhibiting. From what I can see, she’s working hard to attain the goal. Will York get a full-ride scholarship somewhere?
Call for an appointment to purchase or commission artwork.
For the most up to date information go to VSA Colorado/ Access Gallery + Studio’s facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/VSACAccessGallery?ref=ts&fref=ts
VSA Colorado/ Access Gallery + Studio
909 Santa Fe Dr
Denver CO 80204
First Fridays till 9pm