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.


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.

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.

Shadow Banned – Shadows Gather

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The photographer known for her compelling portraits of Denver’s counterculture, Shadows Gather, will unveil her second solo show as part of Denver’s greater Month of Photography. Shadow Banned will be on display March 11th thru April 22nd at Leon Art Gallery and celebrates all that our culture keeps in the shadows–with a special artist reception Saturday, March 11th, from 7-11pm.

Shadow Banned showcases photos not seen anywhere else, photos that have been banned, flagged, and removed from social media. This forbidden collection raises questions about censorship faced heavily by marginalized groups: the policing of female bodies, the algorithmic flagging of everyday imagery in the LGBTQIA sphere, and the disproportionate censorship of people of color. For many Americans, social media is an overfiltered, glamourous representation of themselves and the lives they wish they lived. Shadow Banned is a raw, unapologetic peek into lives lived after dark.

On display along with a collection of over a thousand original Instax images, Shadow will also display her most iconic banned images, blown up and enlarged in a way that captures the details. From the scratches, lipstick smudges, and dirt from the alley, these photos capture a historic moment in time.

Artist’s Bio:

Often compared to Nan Goldin and Andy Warhol, Shadows Gather is a photography project that documents the alternative nightlife scene and the colorful individuals that thrive in it. Based out of Denver, Colorado, Shadow is a photographer who uses non-conventional techniques, such as pairing a Fuji Instax Neo Classic Mini with lighting from an iPhone flashlight, to create striking instant photographs that preserve and celebrate underground culture. In her photos, you’ll find energetic portraits from a mixture of scenes: gutter punks, drag artists, and creatures of the night.

Shadow has directly experienced the growth and cultural changes that have occurred in Denver and has focused her work on ensuring that the visual narrative of her subjects remains as the city continues to evolve.She celebrates the beauty of those on the cultural fringes and provides a sense of community and a safe haven to folks that have been deemed misfits by mainstream culture.

Following the project launch in March of 2019, Shadow has become a staple in music venues, nightclubs, and bars across Denver, Austin, Texas, and Los Angeles. This is her second solo exhibition.



Denver Westword

Tenet Podcast

Outfront Magazine

DID YOU DIE THOUGH? – Confidence Omenai

OPENING RECEPTION – Saturday, January 28th, 2023 – 6pm – 9pm
Exhibition on view January 28th through March 4th, 2023

Bring your ear buds to listen to audio recordings of Confidence Omenai’s poems.

You can access audio recordings of each of the poems by scrolling down and clicking on the various links below.

Confidence Omenai’s “Did You Die Though?”
 is a mixed media art installation that will be on display at Leon Gallery from January 28, 2023 – March 4, 2023. You are invited to leave offerings at the community altar to honor the dead. Please bring your earphones to fully engage with each piece. Limited supply will be available.

“Did You Die Though?” is an exhortation to raise the dead. An invitation to grave robbery. An indaba embracing the ceremony of radical self-compassion and resurrection.”- Confidence Omenai

“This installation is a container for the forensic examination of ritual death as self-actualization. A crime scene as chrysalis. A graveyard or cocoon. A garden of a girl planted in a gruesome place, who answered death’s call, stole the keys to hell and bloomed into a field of free. Here is a road map through the wilds of divine alchemy. Here lie the slain selves of one Black woman, exhumed for the edification of all who fear dying. Did You Die Though is the stone rolled away to reveal She has risen.” – Confidence Omenai

About: Confidence Omenai, is a Nigerian American multimedia artist, poet, playwright, voice actor and breaker of chains. Her work explores death, rebirth, collective healing using the arts, martyrdom on the altar of motherhood and marriage. Confidence is an activist who specializes in intergenerational healing. She encourages radical self-interrogation across the nation. Confidence is a Program Coordinator for Collective Healing Through Art, TEDx Mile High Host, Speaker, Pink Door Fellow, and Oklahoma State University Alum and graduate student.


Wednesday – Friday 10 pm – 6pm
Saturday – Sunday 12pm – 5pm
And by appointment.

Additional Engagement Opportunities at Leon

February 8, 2023, 6-8:00pm Honoring Our Ancestors: Curated Story Time

Confidence Omenai will host a legendary story time. We will pour libations for the ancestors. Speak their names. Participants will have up to 4 minutes to share the name, favorite memory, or life lesson from one of their ancestors. Signup sheet will be posted online at noon on the day of. Only 15 spots available. 

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” -Isaac Newton” 

February 22, 2023, 6-8:00pm Bury Our Dead

A collective healing circle facilitated by Confidence Omenai. We will create brave space for us to leave behind that which no longer serves our highest good. Complete a writing exercise and learn how to call on our individual ancestors for assistance.  

March 1, 2023, 3-8:00pm Ekphrastic Writing Workshop & Book Signing

Confidence Omenai will lead the writing workshop from 3:30-4:15pm. At 5pm. Workshop participants will be given the opportunity to read the ekphrastic poem written during the workshop. Immediately after, there will be a reading from the book “Did You Die Though?” Confidence will be present to sign copies until 6:00pm.

“I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.” – Audre Lord

Joshua Ware – And You May Find Yourself Becoming Oblique in an Age of Mass Extinction

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December 2nd, 2022 – January 15th, 2023

As a prominent creative force within the local Denver community, Joshua Ware’s work inhabitis numerous spaces, from public scuplture, to intimate literary readings, to published articles on exhibitions and profiles on other local artists. His involvement within the community is both generous and impactful.

Leon is honored to present Ware’s first solo exhibition with our gallery space, which will include a variety of sculptural work that he has been developing and creating over the past several years. “And You May Find Yourself Becoming Oblique In An Age of Mass Extinction”, will showcase the artist’s explorations into form, texture, and color, which collectively create a unique and authentic lexicon of sculptural expression.

Artist Bio:

Joshua Ware is an artist and writer who was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his doctorate in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska and lives in Denver, Colorado. His work has shown both nationally and internationally, and his public sculptures are on display in Denver, Colorado Springs, and Grand Junction. Ware regularly writes art reviews—most recently for Southwest Contemporary—and is the author of Homage to Homage to Homage to Creeley and Unwanted Invention / Vargtimmen.

Artist Statement:

‘[Objects] are radically mysterious…this thing I can see right here is ungraspable. It’s totally vivid, yet I can’t get a grip on it.

-Timothy Morton, “And You May Find Yourself Living in an Age of Mass Extinction”

Moments of disorientation are vital. They are bodily experiences that throw the world up or throw the body from its ground…Disorientation could be described here as the ‘becoming oblique’ of the world, a becoming that is at once interior and exterior.

-Sara Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others

Object-Oriented Ontology argues that objects are unknowable to a subject. An artwork, for instance, is a mystery even to the artist who created it: something ungraspable that fosters an ambiguous space composed of both seduction and repulsion. While uncertain, though, the object opens itself up to the world and asks us to approach it with flexibility and humility, thus producing an ethics of (ecological) attunement toward the world.

Queer Phenomenology suggests that, rather than orienting ourselves to the world and the objects within it, we allow ourselves to become disoriented. In other words, to unsettle ourselves and our bodies in order to approach an object differently. To untether ourselves from our expectations. To lose our place. To fail in our orientations so our interactions with an object become strange. To become oblique in both body and mind.

Looking at the objects in this exhibit—some of which I created years ago, others just weeks ago—I am struck by how strange they appear to me now, when considered retrospectively. What I thought I knew of them, I must concede, was more a projection of my own desires. My own ideology. Rather than offer an overarching statement predicated on certainty or opinion, I present you (and myself) with a challenge: let these objects remain unknown; instead, let us offer them solidarity: a communing through aesthetic and embodied experience. In doing so, I would like that we let ourselves disorient from our old ways of seeing, knowing, critiquing, and experiencing an artwork. Be lost. Be uncertain. Embrace an ecological ethics in the Anthropocene that acknowledges objects’ unknown essence and our own uncertainties. Become oblique.

Photo credit: Amanda Tipton Photography

You can read Ray Rinaldi’s Denver Post review of this exhibition here.

bunny M – the butterfly armoire

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Leon is thrilled to welcome back bunny M for their second solo exhibition, ‘the
butterfly armoire’. The exhibition will feature 54 paintings celebrating the beauty of
butterflies and their designation as symbols of the psyche. 50 of the paintings will have
a corresponding 1/1 nft. The physical paintings, as well as the nfts, can be purchased
independently but are offered at a discount when a bonded pair is kept together.

The following week, on Thursday, October 20th, Leon will be hosting an nft workshop
with IndieDAO (, a collective of tech aficionados who offer professional
services for app design, development, illustration, NFT projects and much more. The
evening will feature a discussion on the real potential for nfts within the art market, and
a walkthrough of instructions explaining how collectors new to nfts can set up their
own online wallet and begin collecting.

You can browse the available NFTs on OpenSea by clicking here

Artist Bio:
bunny M is a painter, fine artist, and muralist. An enduring figure in urban art, M’s
paintings have been featured in numerous art books, publications, galleries, and on
walls both domestically and abroad for over 13 years.

Artist Statement:
‘the butterfly armoire’ is inspired by an innocent childhood memory about trying to own
beauty itself and unintentionally destroying it instead.

image credit: Amanda Tipton Photography

Denverite Presents Denverites – Photography by Kevin Beaty


Friday, October 7, 2022 10:00 AM – Sunday, October 9, 2022 5:00 PM


Leon Gallery, 1112 E 17th Ave, Denver, CO 80218

Event Description

Denverite is proud to present the photography of visual journalist Kevin Beaty at Leon Gallery this October. “Denverite Presents Denverites” will showcase portraits of Denverites made by Beaty in his six years working for the news site.

The show, which will run October 7-9, features dozens of portraits of the people who make Denver. The collection is a community of portraiture that brings our shared humanity into a gallery environment. Individually, each photograph represents one story. Together, they demonstrate the diversity of culture and experience that makes Denver dynamic and unique.

Beaty has been Denverite’s visual journalist since it was founded in 2016. His curiosity for the people and stories of Denver has garnered him numerous journalism awards, including four first-place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists Top of the Rockies Awards in 2022.

“Denverite Presents Denverites” is free and open to the public October 7-9 at Leon Gallery at 1112 E 17th Avenue in Denver. The gallery’s hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Friday, 12-6 p.m. on Saturday and 12-5 p.m. on Sunday.

Event Contact

Colorado Public Radio


Call Your Grandmother! – Ana Anu

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Image credits: Amanda Tipton Photography

Artist Bio:

Ana Anu (she/they) is a poet and multi-media artist.  Their work, centering ecofeminist poetics, has been materialized in two books of poetry, Noon (2017, thisisfeministart) and Mona Mona Mona (2019, thisisfeministart) and through large public discourse performances and installations internationally.  Anu is an MFA graduate of Naropa University and an MA Candidate at NYU Tisch. Their third book, a x-genre project titled Crone-Ology is forthcoming this year. Its sentiments are reflected in this show.  Through much of the pandemic, Anu supported the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers by distributing BIPOC scholarships for virtual events. Anu also works more broadly towards intergenerational wisdom with several intersectional feminist organizations.

Artist Statement:

What happens when living ancient women are placed into a public reflection? Do we see something we could not readily see? What is revealed? Do we take on her qualities? Do we understand ourselves as her? Do we understand ourselves above the world of duality? What is revealed? This exhibition invites the viewer into a physical and psychical communication with elder feminine wisdom.

We need our grandmothers. We need to adopt grandmothers and love them as if they were our own. We need to work against our own erasure in becoming elders, and against the loss of libraries between elder bones. Working with grandmothers has taught me that most of our social and environmental catastrophes might be mitigated through a spiritual resolve; by following the advice of a few auspiciously suited, silver-haired women. 

The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers is an earth realm and ancestral council. Their confluence is the result of much physical and psychical journeying, and of a certain predestined orchestration.To date, just six of the original thirteen grandmothers sit on the council earthside. They are: Grandmother Flordemayo, Unci Rita LongVisitor Holy Dance, Grandmother Clara Shinobu Iura, Grandmother Mona Polaca, Grandmother Maria Alice Campos, and Grandmother Margaret Behan. The grandmothers who sit on the council spiritside are: Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim, Grandmother Bernadette Rebinot, Grandmother Rita Pitka Blumenstein, Unci Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance, Abuela Julieta Casimiro, Aama Bombo, and Tsering Dolma Gyaltong. The council is both living and also medium. This exhibition is dedicated to the council, and to the extended community of grandmothers on either side of the “telephone”. 

Undeterred by the social erasure of elders, a problem specific to western over culture, grandmothers globally are nurturing their unique veracity. Grandmothers are remembering their work as vital and urgent contributors to humanity. Grandmothers with their noses on the pulse of matters are both sensitive to our current conjuncture and prepared with a paranormal awareness. As our collective grows out of nuclear family models and into possibilities of chosen family webs, we might consider necessary, adopting elders and bringing wisdom holders back into centerfold.

Read an exhibition write up by Zavi Kang Engles here

Read an exhibition write up by Rocko Foltz here

pieces – s.legg

June 25th through August 6th, 2022

Leon is proud to present Denver artist s.legg, in his first exhibition with the gallery, including sculptures, photographs and videos.

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Photo credit: Amanda Tipton Photography

Artist Statement:

I don’t give a rat’s ass about artists, i love Art. If artwork is done well, it far exceeds any intent by the artist. After finishing a piece, the artist needs to step back and let the work take on a life of its own. The artist is just a part of the process and is therefore no more important than the paint, clay, film or instrument that they work with. We are all products of the time we live in. All our thoughts, actions and creations come from our social, political and historical context. In a sense, we all made this artwork. Just like when someone gets gunned down or gives birth, we are all in part, murderers and creators by association. We are all connected, like it or not, for better or worse.

Artist Bio:

Always restless, i had lived in Boston, New York, San Diego, Chicago, Miami, and for a brief while the Sahara Desert, before coming to Colorado. In the cities i learned that everyone has their own point of view on absolutely everything. In the desert i learned that silence is the most welcome opinion. After my desert sojourn i realized the two things i dislike most are noise and subjectivity. I also came to the realization that the photographic art i’d been making was no longer enough. I’d gone from glorifying highway overpasses, tree trunks (i called them torsos), covered cars, empty pools and other ostensibly banal things to assembling photo grids, making videos and creating outdoor installations. Finally, i left photography altogether and began putting together sculptures in the round. My love of the ubiquitous every day things that go virtually unnoticed in our lives carried over from my photography into my sculptural work.
I began assembling the objects that we see so often that we don’t see them anymore, together into singular pieces. I discovered that by combining the unseen and cast off it gave them power and strength. Ten years ago, in order to instill as much objectivity as possible in my life and work, and to achieve the quiet i yearned for, i began a year of silence. I wanted to just listen for a while so i could take in all points of view from those around me without tainting them with my own spoken subjectivity. My year of silence turned into over fourteen months as i did not want to go back to being “noisy” again. One of the many things i learned during that time is that we are all basically the same, and that we limit ourselves by striving to be separate. By categorizing ourselves into genders, races, political parties and religions, we limit ourselves with subjective ideologies. Therefore i vowed to strive to see everything from all points of view, and then later, from no point of view at all. I now try to make objective sculptures that are multifaceted. Assemblages of everything, that apply to everyone, and no one in particular. Work that doesn’t scream in your face, but whispers urgently in your ear and tells you things that deep down we all already know. 

Ray Rinaldi’s review in The Denver Post can be viewed here

You can read Sabin Aell’s write up here