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Creative Expression: South Denver Artists

Their Creations Help Them Communicate With The World Around Them

Olive Moya

I don’t want (my art) to only exist in a gallery or museum setting to be viewed by those who generally venture into those types of spaces.

Olive Moya grew up Southern California and currently lives and works in Lone Tree. She received her BFA from Otis College of Art + Design in Los Angeles in 2011.

What does art mean to you?

Art is everything.  It’s how I relax, and it’s how I recharge.  It’s how I process my emotions, release frustration and find meaning in the world. It’s how I share myself with others. When I travel, the first thing I want to do is experience art (and food, my other favorite form of art!) I wouldn’t refer to my need to create as a burden, but more of a privilege. I think most human beings have an inner need to think creatively in some capacity and haven’t found their way of utilizing it. I feel lucky that I have a strong drive and ability to do something so personally fulfilling.   

Describe your medium, especially your murals.

I create work that I describe as “abstract storytelling.” They’re bold graphic colorscapes with defined edges, line-work and movement that reference my background in illustration and lettering. For me, they represent a push and pull between intuition and control.

I started painting murals for that reason. I don’t want it to only exist in a gallery or museum setting to be viewed by those who generally venture into those types of spaces.

What do you hope for your art?

I want it to be seen and hopefully create meaning for anybody out in the world. There’s something special about knowing others might feel ownership over what I make, like how people feel ownership over music they love. That they will walk past that wall in their neighborhood every day and feel like it’s theirs. 

I can’t wait to keep progressing in that direction by conquering bigger and more public spaces and more challenging concepts.

OliveMoya.com

@olivemoya

Behnaz Ahmadian

Art is how I meet new people, new friends, new opportunities that allows me to grow and challenges me to learn new things.

I was born in Iran and at age 8 moved to the United States with my family. I grew up in Abington, Pennsylvania. My mother passed away from cancer when I was in college, and after I graduated my father and I moved to Denver to be with my brothers. I worked as an interior designer and, after my son was born, I sold my children’s art. I then started painting and drawing and eventually started getting commissions, which embarked my art business and creative path. My mother, who was a fashion designer, is my motivation and is the one who always inspired me to be creative. With each piece that I create, I hope to share the feeling of love and joy my mom worked so hard to nurture in me as a woman, artist and designer. Currently I live in Highlands Ranch with my very supportive husband and my artistic 9-year-old son.

What does art mean to you?

Art means everything to me. I get to express and communicate my emotions and ideas. It’s very crucial for me to be able to self-expression myself and be able to escape from every day. Art is how I fit into my surroundings. It’s important for me in this fast-paced world to stop and look at my surroundings, take notice in the details in life and objects, take my time to stare and appreciate all the intricate details in life. For my art, I want the viewer to get up close and stare at all the patterns and shapes and to feel a sense of satisfaction and energy.

BehnazAhmadian.com

@behnazahmadianart

Jake Weidmann

"You cannot honor the past by repeating it. You honor the past by giving it new life and relevance in our modern age."

I am a professional artist and a certified Master Penman in Denver. The youngest in history among 10 existing Masters today, I received my Master Penman certificate from the International Association of Master Penman, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting (IAMPETH) in July 2011. I work across numerous mediums in art and calligraphy (including woodworking, sculpture, oil painting, drawing, engraving) and I am most well known for my use of traditional calligraphic flourishing and hand lettering in the context of my fine art. I'm a self-taught artist as each medium is my professor.

What does art mean to you?

In all of the art forms that I pursue, I strive for excellence. As proper diction is to a great speaker, so technical skill is to me as an artist. I know no other way. A good artist is one who has a voice of his own, but a great artist is one who is the voice of those around him. Through my art, I have the ability to identify those common passions, struggles, and truths that we all share as humans.

Much of my work combines multiple disciplines including woodworking/wood carving, calligraphy/lettering, drawing and illustration, oil painting, bronze sculpture, and most recently, hand engraving.

In the beginning, I was criticized for doing so many different mediums. I was told to stick to one thing. But that's just not me. If my work is to be excellent, it should be excellent in everything I put my hands to. 

What do you hope for with your creations?

Historically, art was the universal language, used to communicate even to the illiterate. Today, art has, in many areas, been turned to gibberish; understood by a few and an alienator to the rest. It is my desire to reclaim it to its former glory through the highest artistic technical skill and with deep compassion for those my art will serve.

JakeWeidmann.com

@jakeweidmann

Christa MacFarlane

Providing the opportunity to reflect, wonder, and to feel a sense of inspiration is the intention of my artwork. This is what art means to me.

Christa MacFarlane is attracted to the loose and fluid nature of acrylics on raw wood, as she paints native grasses, seeds, pods and weeds along with other unnoticed elements of nature. Christa had over 25 years combined experience as an interior designer, graphic artist and art instructor. She decided to transition to professional artist full-time after a sabbatical to Europe, where she was inspired by the masters’ works.

What does art means to you?

Creating art allows us to communicate and tell a story. It teaches one to let go of perfection, face your fears, practice creative problem solving and it provides a healthy escape from stress and worry. Art can be shared with others or kept to your self like a journal or a diary. 

Describe your medium and subject matter. 

My choice of medium, acrylic paint, can be very versatile and this is what I love about it. You can manipulate the viscosity of acrylics to make the paint very thick or make it so thin that you can apply many layers that change and react to each underlying color. More often I prefer applying ten to twenty thin layers of paint into one painting. This can create the illusion of depth without a lot of physical texture. I am a detailed observant person so zooming in on wild plants, even though the details may be loosely depicted, allows me to see the beauty in the details. 

ChristaMacFarlane.com

@christamacfarlaneart

Duke Beardsley

It's a privilege to create art, an unbelievable privilege. . . . Let's face it, there is a lot of bad stuff happening to people around the world and I get to do this for a living.

A sixth generation Coloradan, Duke Beardsley has been painting the American West for as long as he can remember.

Formally trained at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Duke now lives and works in Denver. Duke’s work has been featured in numerous local and national publications.

His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions in cluding the 2019 inaugural exhibition Masterworks of the West at the Calgary Stampede, The Coors Western Art Show, the Bufflao Bill Art Show and Sale, the Masters of the American West Exhibition, and The Colorado Governor’s Invitational Art Show; and is included in many notable private and public collections worldwide including the Denver Art Museum.

What does art mean to you?

Art means a lot of things - everything from self-expression to making a living. No, it is not a burden to create. It's a privilege to create art, an unbelievable privilege. When I’m being my best self, its a genuine pleasure. Let's face it, there is a lot of bad stuff happening to people around the world and I get to do this for a living.

Describe your medium and subject matter.

My medium jumps around. I use everything from collage, to polymer resin to every kind of paint made. My subject matter is the modern-day American West centered around ranching in today’s modern West.

What do you hope for your art?

I hope my work connects with people on a level beyond just wanting to collect — or me making a living. It is an amazing privilege to create something people want to spend the rest of their lives with. How cool!

DukeBeardsleyStudio.com

@dukebeardsleystudio

Stephanie Wilson Thomas

Ultimately my goal is that my work will touch something inside of you and elicit a gentle or knowing smile.

Stephanie Thomas is a ceramic artist/sculptor living in south suburban Denver. She moved here from the Texas Gulf Coast with her family (her husband, Fred, and two of her four children) eight years ago. While she loves the mountains and natural beauty of Colorado, she is longing for the seashore and a salty breeze.

Describe your medium and subject matter.

I began my ceramic training at a pottery shop above an Ethiopian restaurant in Washington, D.C., in 1988. My passion for clay took me to art school in Central Mexico and then back to Texas where I continued to learn from various ceramic artists and set up my first home studio. I was a founding member of the Texas Clay Arts Association in 1998 and the SoSu Artist Collective in 2015.

My body of work is exclusively hand-built with slabs, coils and pinches of clay. I use a variety of clay bodies, from earthenware and stoneware for indoor items to strong slab and sculpture clay for outdoor pieces so they can withstand the ever-changing weather of Colorado. 

My portfolio includes both functional wares for daily use in the kitchen, as well as sculptural pieces for the home and garden. My work is organic, earthy, colorful, and whimsical and is intended to be touched, held and used daily.

What do you hope with your art?

Ultimately, my goal is that my work will touch something inside of you and elicit a gentle or knowing smile.

@stephaniewilsonthomas

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