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A Lasting Impression

At SmithKlein Gallery in Boulder, Creativity and Community Find a Place to Thrive

Article by Katherine Owen

Photography by Poppy & Co. by Kelsey Huffer

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

Perched on the edge of the Pearl Street pedestrian mall in downtown Boulder, SmithKlein Gallery is a must-visit for art lovers in town–from amateur admirers to aficionados. A staple of the Boulder arts community, the 2,800-square-foot space has showcased a meticulously curated mix of art from all over the world for more than 30 years.

Owners Nathan and Ann Klein purchased the gallery more than 10 years ago from the founder and Nathan’s mother, Deborah Smith-Klein, and have since worked to make the space a center where the arts are emphasized and celebrated, enriching not just the creative community but the city as a whole.

“The questions I constantly ask myself are: What makes Boulder unique now? And what makes local downtowns unique in general?” Ann says. “Further, how do the arts strengthen community as a whole?... In order to heal from the trauma and economic devastation over the last few years, [our] community needs to come together and be strengthened by our drive to be something more.”

It’s questions like these that have led the duo to grow the gallery to represent artists of various walks and mediums from all over the world. Inside its four walls, the gallery offers visitors the chance to admire world-renowned paintings, glasswork, jewelry and sculpture, all carefully curated with the experience of the visitor in mind.

Repeat visitors may recognize the work of several long-time staples at the gallery. One such artist, Lyudmila Agrich, has been showing her oil paintings at the gallery for more than ten years. It’s long-time relationships like these that empower the artist, fortify the community and enhance the patron experience.

“For me, personally, it's very important to have this connection with the gallery over time, you see, because I would say that’s 50 percent of success: you need to have a great relationship,” she explains.

Lyudmila is known for her impressionistic paintings of dancers, city scenes and water scenes, all crafted with richly hued oil paints and a palette knife.

“It’s this weird thing. It’s like human nature likes to control everything. And mostly, a brush gives you this control. But with a palette knife, it’s just … more unpredictable, and I like it,” Lyudmila explains. “I like it, but it’s not a comfortable feeling. This is, I believe: when you are out of your comfort zone, you can create something good. Not even necessarily new, but good. When there is that lack of control.”

Additionally, many of her paintings are made “alla prima” style, or all at once. Lyudmila reports for small paintings, she’ll sit down to work and will paint for two to three hours straight, not stopping until the painting is done.

“I find that not only her subject matter, but the freedom of perfection in Lyudmila’s work that many people feel without knowing it,” Ann says. “It’s this freedom to be in the moment, here and now, and be able to express yourself in the most raw and powerful way.”

Experience Lyudmila’s work for yourself, as well as the work of dozens of other artists by visiting the SmithKlein Gallery at 1116 Pearl Street, Monday - Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Learn more at