Audio: Boulder Displays its History in Art and Activism with City-Wide Series of Shows


Eighteen galleries, 121 years of history, four months, at least 35 events and more than 300 local artists—all in Boulder County.

Celebration! A History of the Visual Arts in Boulder is an unprecedented display of artworks by artists who have lived and worked in Boulder, now on view across the city. Known as HOVAB, this substantial local series aims to highlight the history of visual art in Boulder and secure its legacy for the future.

HOVAB officially opened on Sept. 29, 2016 at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, with support from the Boulder City Council, in the presence of participating artists and committee members and in memory of organizer Karen Ripley Dugan.

Jennifer Heath, chair of the cultural and steering committee, was also recognized for her fundamental role in the project.

“To engage in my community again, it’s been really joyful for me,” she said.

This sentiment echoes the feelings of many in the Boulder art scene, as they reconvene with purpose this fall: making new connections, reuniting with old friends and reigniting former passions.

For the original full article, Boulder Displays its History of Art and Activism in City-Wide Series of Shows, visit CU Boulder class blog Under the Flatirons.


Kelsey Simpkins: Eighteen galleries, 121 years of history, and more 300 local artists and 35 events – all in Boulder County. What do you call that?

Jennifer Health: Celebration, A History, a history, of the Visual Arts in Boulder. HOVAB, we call it.

Simpkins: That’s Jennifer Heath, chair, director, and senior curator-at-large of HOVAB, an unprecedented display of artworks by artists who have lived and worked in Boulder.

Aaron Brockett: So A History of the Visual Arts in Boulder is a 3 1/2 month, city-wide, one-time-only grassroots event.

Simpkins: City Council member Aaron Brockett helped kick off the series opening on Sept. 29th, 2016, echoing the excitement and support of the Boulder community for the project.

Brockett: And that support is shared by the city council.

Simpkins: Heath also received recognition for her fundamental role on opening night.


[audience noise, calls of “Jennifer” and “come on up” throughout the crowd]


Simpkins: Several shows in the HOVAB series are currently open to the public at The Dairy Arts Center.

Heath: And these two shows, Front Range and Criss-Cross, really had national impact.

Simpkins: Front Range Women in the Visual Arts Founders is a small retrospective show of work by the artists who founded Front Range Women in the Visual Arts, a feminist art collective begun in the 1970s. Member Sally Elliott recalled an interesting moment before their first show in 1973.

Sally Elliott: And my male studio partner said to me, ‘well, how come we’re not in it?’ I said ‘well you can do your own,’ but he didn’t.

Simpkins: Besides having work in the Front Range show, Elliott is also the curator of many other HOVAB shows this fall, including an array of unique works that line the walls of the MacMillan Family Lobby and the Polly Addison Gallery at The Dairy Arts Center. She showed me around the galleries the day before the exhibition opened.

Elliott: I love this painting.

Simpkins: The artist, Jim Johnson, has a unique take on art-making, using texture and geometry in the absence of color.

Elliott: He taught color theory and he said, ‘Sally you better teach it because you know, I’m colorblind.’ And he is colorblind. Which is interesting, as a painter.


Simpkins: At the Dairy Arts center, visual arts curator Rebecca Cuscaden is excited to be displaying historic artworks in the recently renovated building.

Cuscaden: So I’m really excited to get to show some historical pieces, because they are very different than what we normally show.

Simpkins: She also hopes you’ll stop by.

Cuscaden: We want people to come here and hang out, and you know, see our galleries and spend some time here.

Simpkins: But for those who miss the wide series of exhibitions this fall or want to revisit them in the future, a full-color catalogue is in production.

Heath: That’s the lasting legacy.

Simpkins: This is Kelsey Simpkins, for Under the Flatirons.