From the moment artist and Westward Gallery owner Michelle Courier peered through the window of her future art gallery on Denver’s beloved Tennyson Street, she knew it was meant to be. The previous owners of the former frame shop had seemingly written it on the wall for her.
“Whoever has this magical space next, I wish you great wine, great energy, and great art.”
The space was prepped and ready with everything necessary for a gallery, including an art studio that allowed for the continued unfolding of Courier's magnificent talent.
In the summer of 2016, Courier visited her daughter and discovered the gallery. At the time, she’d been living in Lake Tahoe, had her work featured in twenty galleries across the country, and was well-known for her captivating acrylic paintings of tree-scapes and water scenes.
Overcome with an unexplainable feeling of joy, she was certain that she was going to live in Denver; by October, Courier was a resident of the Mile High City.
Westward’s namesake is a nod to Courier’s years spent exploring the West, with an inspired nudge from her daughter. She intimately knows the highways, having spent ten weeks out of every summer traveling and instantly knew “Westward” would capture the essence of her gallery.
A painter who purposely tries not to do anything typical, Courier remembers being a rebellious spirit from a young age in school.
“I would think of every single way that I could make it not what everyone else was doing,” she shares.
Courier starts by taking a hundred or so photos of any given area, closing in on details, and savoring each moment of the environment.
“When I’m at a scene, I take notes and I write down what day it is, the year, the time, what it sounds like, what the air feels like, is there wind, is it warm?”
She immerses herself into the painting before any paint has even been squeezed out of the tube.
Halfway through the process, she lets go of the photos and embodies the feeling — it’s not what she sees, but what she feels. She wants viewers to experience the feelings she has and admire the light she’s captured, not necessarily know the origins of the painting.
Beyond her fierce dedication to painting and running the gallery, Courier shines as a glowing example of a woman boldly traversing the unknown to do what sets her heart on fire. It would seem as though Courier and Colorado coalesced to ignite more possibility for her future.
Her work has recently been featured on wine bottles and her famous water scene blue and green hues have found their way into signature Charvin acrylic set with Jerry’s Artarama. Denver continues to inspire Courier with easy access to breathtaking scenery, endless musical talent, and hidden gems that she seems to have a knack for finding.
And while a paintbrush will likely find her wherever she goes, Courier knows Denver is the home for all her hopes and dreams to continue coming true.