Recommended: Finding Gold at the University Center for the Arts

Louis XIV ca. 1693 (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

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Tim Van Schmidt

I went searching for treasure — and I found gold.

The gold was cool art and the treasure chest was the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, located on the first floor of CSU’s University Center for the Arts at 1400 Remington Street in Fort Collins.

The draw for me was a new exhibit, “Off the Shelf: Contemporary Book Arts in Colorado”. It’s a collection of conceptual pieces that spin-off of the traditional idea of what a book is — and it goes far and wide.

Ukraine art by Olexiy Sai (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

The exhibit displays “books” made of and/or including fabric and glass, rattlesnake skin and bugs, shooting targets, and boxes. And it’s not just about the materials, but also about words and images.

Two pieces that particularly attracted my eye were “Orpheus the Stutterer: A Poetics of Silence”, an open book boldly displaying repeating letters of the alphabet, and Gail Watson’s “Snow”, featuring bound etched glass.

But that wasn’t all I discovered at the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art.

Head of Aphrodite ca. 1st Century CE (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

One gallery features a vibrant collection of African arts.

And then there are two galleries displaying items from the Hartford Tandstad Collection, including classical paintings and art objects stretching all the way back to the 1st Century CE.

One particularly interesting work is a portrait of Louis XIII by Franz Pourbus, the Younger (1569-1622). A placard explains how this piece had been fully restored by the museum, fixing a prominent crack in the wood base as well as cleaning the surface and removing discolored varnish. The painting now looks vibrant.

African art (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

But let’s also include mention of the “Media Mixed: Experimenting with Materials” exhibit that features such diverse works of art as a Roy Lichtenstein piece made from plastic. 

But more, there is a special exhibit featuring Ukrainian artists. It’s a “ready-to-print” collection from the Artists Support Ukraine Foundation that highlights art informed by the war and it includes some somber, arresting, and even shocking images.

One piece that struck me was Olexiy Sai’s “Swan Lake” depicting an image of Vladimir Putin lying in a coffin being held aloft by a troupe of ballet dancers. In the caption, Sai writes: “…we will stop the murderers and rapists with the whole world. On all fronts. Glory to Ukraine, death to enemies”.

All of these exhibits are being shown now through December 18. 

New exhibit- Off the Shelf (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Of course, there are also the almost obligatory references to Andy Warhol’s art. Warhol came to Fort Collins in 1981 and created quite a stir on the CSU campus and in the community at the time. 

Outside the University Center for the Arts — you can’t miss it — is the huge Campbell’s Soup can created for his visit, signed by Warhol himself. Inside the museum is a collage of soup labels also signed by the artist.

In the case next to the signed labels is a Warhol-inspired work by Enrique Chagoya, “Pyramid Scheme”, which features “soup cans” with labels satirizing US financial and political institutions during the Great Recession in the late 2000s, with names such as “Wall Street Gumbo”, “Executive Bonus Consommé”, “Bailout Bisque”, and “Ponzi Chowder”.

Visit the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art at CSU’s UCA (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Wow — that’s a lot of art to see and process. That’s what I am talking about — artistic gold is in that museum and the best part of it all is that the museum is open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays and admission is free.

The Gregory Allicar Museum of Art features plenty of art treasure — just go and find it for yourself.

Visit “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt” on YouTube.