FIELD DAY – JULIE PUMA

On view June 28th through August 3rd, 2024

Though predominately autobiographical, Field Day explores the universality of personal nostalgia; the myriad ways in which we often find ourselves striving to piece together fragments of our youth. Inspired by family snapshots and home movies, Puma explores the degradation of detail and the shifting of context when recalling the past, attempting to reconcile the objective visual truth of archival images, with the more subjective emotions of childhood memories.

Artist Bio

Brought as a baby to England by well-traveled parents, Julie Puma spent her first fourteen years there with summers spent in her native Brooklyn. Her earliest memory of art is at age five when her mother gave her a set of oil paints which she used to paint a flower on a Styrofoam meat package. Only a year later her mother would pass away from breast cancer. Her father remarried and his work with IBM moved Julie, her sister, and the new family back to the United States where they settled in the Chicago area. An interest in art wasn’t apparent in high school, but after graduating from Western Illinois State University, Julie went on to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago to achieve a Masters of Art in Art Therapy. Her passion for painting was kindled as she practiced art therapy while experiencing its healing powers for herself and deepening her own creative talent.Julie made her way to Colorado to care for her sister who was also afflicted with breast cancer. Here she met her husband, gave birth to a daughter, and continued to refine and cultivate her artistic growth. Fueled by her family tragedies, Julie’s painting and art evolved as a means for greater communication and exploration of social and political themes. She earned a second Master’s degree in Fine Art in Visual Art with the Vermont College of Fine Art. Currently, Julie is Full Professor in the Foundations and Fine Arts Department at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Denver. Julie’s work has been exhibited nationally and locally in several solo and collaborative shows since 1997. Prized by collectors, her drawings and paintings are personal and powerful, resonant and relevant contemporary realism.

Artist Statement

I consider myself a mixed media artist. Painting is my joy and I seem to come home to it time and time again. During Covid I turned my attention to painting photographs sent to me by health care workers, friends of healthcare workers, and images found on the internet. The process of painting healthcare workers was a way to take the invisible enemy (the virus) and make visible the heroes (health care workers). In some ways painting nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapists allowed me to grieve the loss of lives, loss of society, and loss of economy.Most recently I have returned to a familiar autobiographical theme – “Nostalgia, Loss, Memory and the Search for Meaning”. When I was six my mother died of breast cancer. As a result of her death, I have very little memory of her and the years following her death. Throughout my practice I have utilized autobiographical exploration to try and piece childhood memories together. Working from smaller mixed media pieces and old photographs, I have started creating oil paintings paired with mini-installations (sculpture/mixed media). I find myself staring at old photographs and memorabilia with longing; hoping on some level this process will awaken some part of my brain to my memories, so far this has not happened. These paintings/video and installations cannot “fix” this gap in my life but perhaps the process of making/sharing the experience can help to heal. 

ANDY LIO – AMERICAN MATAI

Andy Lio is a Samoan tribal tattoo artist, pyrographer, father, and Matai chief of his place of origin. Born on the Samoan Islands, and raised in San Fransisco, California, Andy is a Polynesian immigrant and growing up in section 8 housing was not easy. To escape this vicious cycle, Andy joined the military and served three tours in the US Army. The military is where he first picked up a tattoo gun, and from there his art flourished onto the skin and beyond into wood. Andy lives and works in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Roots

From a dark past in the Bay Area slums to uncovering his destiny as a Samoan Matai chief, Andy Lio has forged his path as a skilled Polynesian tattoo artist, pyrographer, and devoted father. Born in Samoa and transplanted to San Francisco, Andy had to navigate the path of immigration and develop his own cultural identity. His environment was harsh, yet he found security in the US military. Devoting three tours in the US Army, it was during his service that he began tattooing. His philosophy and technique have grown and years later, he has become a master at free-hand Polynesian designs.

Ink & Ember

Andy’s Samoan symbols extend beyond the skin. With the same reverence, Andy wields the pyrography pen as he burns into wooden canvases. He uses symbolic objects like the surfboard and boat oar as cultural vehicles for his designs. Each stroke is deliberate; each burns a chapter in his odyssey of cultural discovery.

Documentary Film

At the heart of our exhibition lies the soul-stirring documentary, “American Matai.” This cinematic voyage chronicles Andy’s pilgrimage back to Samoa after 32 years—a quest to reclaim his Matai chief birthright and to wear the revered pe’a, the sacred tapping-style full-body tattoo. Displayed are photographs of the film’s journey to the Pacific Islands and short video trailer of the film project so far. The documentary captures the raw emotion, the ancestral echoes, and the transformative power of tradition. As the camera follows Andy’s footsteps, we witness the indelible mark of culture upon his skin and learn about the rich culture of the Samoan Islands.

Preserving Culture & Igniting Inspiration

“American Matai” the exhibition celebrates the fusion of ancient Samoan tattooing traditions and the raw power of wood burning—a harmonious blend that resonates with the very essence of Andy’s life story. This is more than an exhibition; it’s a call to honor heritage, to ignite curiosity, and to celebrate the beauty of cultural expression. Andy’s journey mirrors that of countless immigrants—the delicate balance between assimilation and preservation. Through his art, he invites us to explore our own roots, to cherish the stories etched into our souls.

IG: @americanmatai

Raymundo Muñoz – Overwhelming Nature – On View Through Saturday, May 18th

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Exhibition images by: Raymundo Muñoz

In Overwhelming Nature, Denver-based printmaker Raymundo Muñoz presents a selection of linocut relief prints inspired by the oppressive density of the natural world. Through heavy use of detail, repetitive elements, and complex organic patterns and forms, the artist invites viewers to experience a sense of awe, not only in nature, but in the art form itself. Based on his own photos, Munoz’s flora, fauna, and landscapes are expressed through intense linework inspired by printmakers, illustrators, and comic book artists alike. The graphic results reveal as much the artist’s love of line as his interest in the vast and wild settings and processes all around us. Among the sheer bigness and quantities suggested, though, quiet visual cues throughout Overwhelming Nature remind us that we don’t have to understand and hold it all in. It’s okay to simply witness, and walk away.      

ARTIST BIO

Raymundo Muñoz was born and raised in El Paso, TX, but has made Colorado his home since 1999. He received education at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and University of Colorado-Denver, where he received a B.S. in Biology.

He’s a self-taught printmaker, musician, writer, and photographer, who finds endless inspiration in the natural world and the chaos-order dynamic.

Raymundo is a current RedLine Contemporary Art Center Artist-in-Residence and Denver Botanic Gardens Land Line Artist-in-Residence. He is the director/co-founder/co-curator at Alto Gallery. He’s an active board member of Birdseed Collective, a local 501(c)(3) non-profit organization devoted to improving the lives of surrounding communities through arts, education, and food programs. 

Above all, Raymundo is guided by the simple principle that art is a bridge, and that its greatest function is to connect people across space and time.

Eric Anderson – The Reasonable Obscenity of the Spirit – On view through March 23rd.

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Image credit: Amanda Tipton Photography

Leon is honored to welcome artist Eric Anderson for his first solo exhibition with the
gallery. A popular artist within the Denver community for over ten years, Anderson’s
exhibition, “The Reasonable Obscenity of the Spirit, will mark his first major solo
exhibition, highlighting a new body of work that he has been developing over the past
two years. The exhibition will open at Leon on Saturday, February 10th, and will be on
view through Saturday, March 23rd, 2022.

Artist Bio:
Eric Anderson was born in South side Chicago, IL in 1985. He received his BFA
studying under painter Li Hu, previously associated with Shanghai University, now Los
Angeles based painter and sculptor Jeff Lipschitz, as well as printmaker Gail Panske
and sculptor Theresa Lind at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Anderson has
worked and resided in Denver, CO for the last decade on a large range of projects
which includes large scale drawings/paintings, mixed media assemblage sculpture and
performance. His work has been published in a number of journals including New
American Paintings. Anderson’s current bodies of work investigate the extremities of
the spirit, automatism, deconstructionist theory, and interdimensionality.

Artist Statement:
Untouchable dimensions of the spirit
Come back
I don’t fear death
The misperception of loneliness
Broken window
Even if just for a glimpse

Free Hand – New Work from Mark Shusterman

December 21st, 2023 through January 13th, 2024

Mark Shusterman has been residing in Denver his entire adult life, although he’s spent much of the last 10 years touring internationally with the band Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats as a founding member and keyboardist. Before the band’s success, Mark was a fixture of the Denver art and music scenes. His previous musical work was in the bands Widowers, The Blue Rider, Amlamas and many others. He was also the co founder of Win Wear, an art collective responsible for creating experiential art shows in the Denver area. The past few years has brought drawing back into his life as a way to find peace and focus amidst constant travel. 

‘Free Hand’ presents a series of meditative drawings created while on tour. The space between sound checks and shows, cities and the studio, flights and the tour bus. The movements reflect nature, especially systems of growth. Lines sprout lines, like yeast and fungus. Mounds of marks rise and sink on the page forming pockets of detailed patterns. Gestures snake and coil like rope—quick and fleeting in moments and in other instances grounded by muscular enunciations of the pen.

Jackie Barry “HOME”

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Artist Statement:

Home is a show about collectivism over individualism. It’s about the holisticism of every seemingly small gesture, action, object, and experience that makes up who we are and what we love. Home is about looking to the natural world for guidance. It’s about leaving and coming back. Home is about deepening and broadening roots. Home is about community. It’s about collaboration and celebration. Home is about working with what we’ve got and showing gratitude for those gifts. It’s about abundance, not scarcity. Home is open arms and a soft landing. Welcome Home.

Artist Bio:

Jackie Barry is a multimedia artist, forester, and wildland firefighter based in Longmont, Colorado. They graduated from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2011 with a degree in printmaking/book arts and are currently finishing their Masters of Natural Resources degree from Oregon State University focusing on forestry and fire ecology. They are passionate about using art as a conduit to connect the public to the natural world. 

To view the price list and see which artworks are available for purchase please click here.

Please keep in mind that depending on when you inquire about purchasing an artwork, it may have already been sold, but not been updated on this page as sold.

In-Dwelling an exhibition of new work by Drew Austin

Opening Reception – Saturday, September 23rd, 7:00pm – 11:00pm

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The wide range of objects and images that artist Drew Austin creates, repurposes, or reimagines, seem to shimmer, sparkle, reflect, or refract, offering each viewer sensorial experiences that either demonstrate or allude to the ephemeral, the dynamic.

Austin’s creative inspiration stems from a deep appreciation of the phenomenological. His emphasis is not solely on the art object itself, but is presented in tandem, or entangled with the individual’s experience and interaction with it, in real time, across time. Light, shadow, layering, translucency, and reflection, are all integral to the appreciation and understanding of the work. His art evokes personal, intimate acts of seeing, truly looking at the world, in awe and wonder. The moments, minutes, and memories, that he encapsulates within his work are expressively potent, yet remain mercurial, evanescent.

OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday, September 23rd, 2023 7pm – 11pm.

ONGOING EXHIBITION: Saturday, September 23rd, through Saturday, November 4th, 2023.

All Leon exhibitions are FREE and open to the public.

GALLERY HOURS: Wednesday – Friday 10am – 6pm Saturday – Sunday 12pm-5pm

In-Dwelling

In Japanese, there is a word for the sensation of light dappling through leaves and branches. The word itself, Komorebi, is quite beautiful and the very idea of a concept wrapped into a single string of letters makes me think about how the English language lacks a word to describe such gorgeous phenomena. Our culture–and the very boundaries of our language–fail to make space for this form of noticing, so what does this say about our discomfort with impermanence, with the middle spaces between light and dark?

Enter the domain of In-Dwelling. An unfolding of peaceful wonder, full of both radiance and shadow. A space nestling personal narratives, private experiences, and the kinds of emotional content typically too nuanced for language. A world of objects created and found and expanded and questioned. Something has or is dwelling here, waiting, welcoming, returning, honoring, repeating its cycles.

I find and work alongside objects, often considering it a collaboration. Gravitating towards objects that speak through their very nature, hold potential, or vibrate as an energy beacon at thrift stores and vintage malls. I’m wholly interested in the object sometimes, only adding a small mark, changing the orientation, or creating an object’s companion. These objects act as vessels of our own reflections, inviting us to think about ourselves and our experiences through the lens of this other physical thing.

I consider light and shadow fluid objects—creatures that go out of their way to find “home” or solace, whatever the situation, with their physical bodies (much like I do as a human being). Reaching into every crevice of the world, light and shadow articulate the land, connect and obscure boundaries, and define each object in our three-dimensional reality. This fluidity and intangibility define and concretize; illuminate the presence of a thing that might in the same instance reveal yourself reflected within it.

For me, the inhabitant objects located within In-Dwelling—the lamp, drawings, found objects, created objects, and you—are all welcome artifacts in the interplay of light and shadow. It’s all a chance to explore, even outside of our language, what it is to be between worlds, to be impermanent, and to leave a mark. It’s in this personal reflection where collective resiliency and understanding are built. 

BIO

Drew Austin (he/him, b.1996) is an interdisciplinary artist and curator living and working in Denver, CO. He grew up in Great Falls, Montana, and attended the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, in Denver, which he graduated from in 2017 with his BFA as Valedictorian.

Austin is the Curator of Visual Arts at The Dairy Arts Center in Boulder, CO, where he exhibits the work of artists from all across the country (and sometimes the world) in their four rotating gallery spaces. He previously worked as the Exhibitions Curator for ReCreative Denver as well as put together independent curatorial projects in spaces such as Redline Denver, The Temple Artist Studios, The Digital Armory, and Alto Gallery.

Portrayed primarily through drawing, sculpture, and light-based installation, Austin’s work functions as a conduit for understanding and comprehension of everyday things— mundane situations, domestic space, slow growth, and light—both large and small in a human-dominated world.

www.studiodrewaustin.com

Instagram @studiodrewaustin 

FROM, DAWN. – an exhibition of new work by Kenzie Sitterud

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A key critical component of Sitterud’s work is an uncompromising, yet playful interrogation of authentic individual identity, navigating within the established structures and pervasive tropes of traditional American Western culture. Sitterud deconstructs identity, illuminating both the internal and external conflicts that arise when one is expected to operate within an iconic culture that can be both dismissive and disparaging toward those who do not conform to its romanticized, albeit restrictive, ideology. 

Guest attendees to the opening reception are encouraged to don their favorite Western attire, and be sure to bring plenty of single dollar bills so they can tip local Go-go Dancer, Connie Love, who will be performing several times throughout the evening.

An artist talk with a live music performance by Sitterud will also take place at some point during the run of the exhibition. Specific details will follow. 

Read Debra Thimmesch‘s article on ff2media here

OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday, August 5th, 2023 7pm – 11pm.

ONGOING EXHIBITION: Saturday, August 5th, through Saturday, September 16th, 2023. All Leon exhibitions are FREE and open to the public.

GALLERY HOURS:

Wednesday – Friday 10am – 6pm

Saturday – Sunday 12pm-5pm

Artist Statement:

From, Dawn is inspired by both Walter Benjamin’s theory of mechanical reproduction and my own historical narrative of the land into which I grew up on – Capitol Reef Desert in Emery County, Utah, the ancestral lands of the Timpanogos, and Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) Nations. It is a unique landscape; the type of land that draws the attention of the parallels of time, trauma, existence, and perspectives and has led me to find myself fixated on the American West, specifically the Western Cowboy boot, an American symbol of heroism with a surprising and hidden history of queerness. 

From, Dawn consists of large scale paintings of deconstructed cowboy boots using flat plains of color suggested by Josef Albers color theory. This show includes a collection of minimalist oil landscape paintings, performance video art, and a series of cast ceramic cowboy boots as an installation. Through the replication of the cowboy boot, the work considers the juxtaposition of the binary through color association of the effeminate displayed on the masculine icon of the American west, the cowboy boot.

The pink painted ceramic boots are replicas of my grandfather’s last pair of black leather church boots. His identity was formed by watching American cowboy movies, and internalizing the ideals of hard work, individual freedom and masculinity which he held onto until his very last breath. He grew up on the farm and he died there –  pursuing the American dream. As a child, I soaked up this hyper masculinity, while at the same time, was bombarded with images of the women in my family taking on the quintessential role of the woman in the kitchen. This was a perpetuated narrative that neither fit nor was accepting of my queer identity and expression. Yet, I am still nostalgic for the Utah desert.

Artist Bio: 

Kenzie Sitterud, Born in Cleveland Utah in 1986, currently works and resides in Denver, CO. Sitterud is a multimedia artist who works primarily in large-scale installation, commercial art, and public art environments. Sitterud’s installations are designed to create the same dysphoric environment experienced by the queer community who exist in a society that is not designed for and is not inclusive of them.  This body of work contains The Bathroom, The Kitchen Table, The Wardrobe, The Powder Room and The Bedroom. 

Kenzie’s work has been featured at the Denver Art Museum, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Meow Wolf Denver, Breck Create, Platteforum, and various galleries around the art districts of Denver. Sitterud was an Artist-in-Residence at RedLine Contemporary Art Center from 2017-2019. While at Redline, they were a Colorado Creative Industries and NEAA recipient for the 2017 Career Advancement Grant. Sitterud received a 2019 P.S. You are Here Grant through Denver Arts & Venues to complete a commissioned public project for Design Workshop Foundation.

Woman, Life, Freedom

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Exhibition Images Credit: Amanda Tipton Photography

Throughout the month of July, Leon is honored to be collaborating with Middle East Images Foundation, to present to our Denver community, an exhibition of images from the civil rights protests that took place in Iran last fall.

Read Ray Rinaldi’s Denver Post article here.

To learn more about the details of these protests, please view this insightful Frontline episode from January of this year.

Mahsa-Jina Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, was beaten to death in the custody of the so-called “morality police,” for the crime of having what they considered an improper hijab, on September 16, 2022, in Tehran. Her murder sparked a revolutionary uprising that is now known the world over as the Woman Life Freedom movement. Led by women and Gen Z, the intersectional movement has brought together Iranians from across various gender, age, socioeconomic, labor, and ethnic groups, both inside the country and in diaspora to fight against the Islamic Revolution and its brutal patriarchal and ideological totalitarianism.


According to official reports by human rights organizations, more than five-hundred people have been brutally killed in the past few months, and thousands (according to some sources, as many as fourteen thousand at one point) arrested, many of whom still remain in detention. Several men have been executed for the sole crime of participating in protests.


An unprecedented fight that has lasted for more than ten months in various shapes and forms, the Woman Life Freedom uprising has already victoriously shifted the foundations of the Iranian society, even if it has not (yet) led to the toppling down of the Islamic Republic regime.


The photographs showcased in the “Woman, Life, Freedom” exhibition at Leon Gallery, brought to you in collaboration with the Middle East Images Foundation, document the bravery of the protestors through the lens of seven young photographers based in Iran, who for security reasons need to remain anonymous. Risking their lives and freedoms to be present at these historical moments, these young women and men bring to us unique images of a people standing up for their right to their bodies and minds with all their might.

Visit MEI Foundation’s website for more information.

A Centrum of Cosmic Energies – Christine Nguyen

April 29th – June 10th, 2023

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Image Credit: Amanda Tipton Photography

A Centrum of Cosmic Energies is a collection of cyanotypes on cotton using myriad media formats such as color pencil, graphite, pastel and salt crystals. These works depict both the auras of cosmic rays and plants alike. The radiating energy surrounding both forms draw upon the connection between tiny galaxies and the plant life on earth. Throughout the series, scale is manipulated to draw upon the relationship between the micro and macro realms.

Ceramic pieces are also depicting an occurrence of energy in outer space, ancient fossils, remnants from the sea or a discovered extra terrestrial terrain.

Inspired by the natural world, the sciences, such as images from the Hubble and James Webb telescope and microscopy imagery, I am creating imaginary realms that are spiritual by nature where each mark in my works is like a sound or a note that is capturing the invisible about the unknown and the world we live reminding us what Carl Sagan has describe a pale blue dot.

BIO:
Christine Nguyen was born and raised in California and currently resides in Aurora, Colorado. She is a lover of animals, plants, and nature.

She received her B.F.A from California State University, Long Beach and M.F.A from University of California, Irvine. Exhibitions of her work have been shown nationally and internationally. Her works can be found in various collections such as the J.Paul Getty Museum Department of Photographs, Getty Research Institute, Armand Hammer Museum, Grunwald Center for Graphic Art, Los Angeles World Airport’s Collection, Cedars- Sinai in Los Angeles, CA; Burger Collection, Hong Kong; The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), Hanoi, Vietnam; Long Beach Museum of Art, Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum in Long Beach, California; Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio; and Microsoft Collection.

She is a 2022-2024 Redline Artist in Residence in Denver, CO. She has been an Artist In Residence at Montello Foundation, NV ; Pacific Bonsai Museum, WA; Gyeongju Int. Residency Art Festa 2018, South Korea; Theodore Payne Foundation, CA, BaikArt with Cemeti Art House, Indonesia; U.S Dept. of Interior- BLM Eastern interior AIR, Alaska; Wildfjords (WFAR), Iceland; Montalvo Art Center, CA; Tamarind Institute, NM; and the Headlands Center for the Arts, CA.