What I like Wednesday: Clyfford Still Museum

How do I even start this blog post? I’ve only been to the Clyfford Still Museum once and I fell in love with it instantly. The museum, designed specifically for Clyfford Still’s art, is open and bright. It holds 95 percent of Still’s works including photos and letters. That’s over 3,000 works. Because they have so much of his creations, the exhibits change throughout the year, which means one should visit over and over again. From March 26 – October 10, 2021 you can see Stories We Tell: The Collection Two Ways. Half of the museum is set up with his art arranged chronologically and the other half is set up with his art arranged thematically. So the viewer can wander through both exhibits and determine which style she prefers, which style calls to her more. Or perhaps she will find that both have their value. I very much want to go and plan on doing so in the coming months.

I don’t know much about Clyfford Still, only that he was an abstract expressionist. He started out painting recognizable images but through his career moved into abstract work, of which I am very grateful because his abstract pieces are superb. The museum’s website says, “He wanted people to get lost in his works and make their own interpretations of his art.” and I have to say, I did get lost in many of his pieces when I visited in early 2020. Thinking back on my time there makes me want to go back so badly. His pieces really did speak to me and what I would love to do now is to try to replicate one or two of them, in my own way, to see how it feels and to grasp how hard it probably is.

Still painted on giant canvases and he wasn’t afraid of using colors. My favorite pieces are the ones with large splashes of yellow, red, and/or blue. His use of space and his use of color speak to me. The size of his pieces, speak to me. I may not know much, if anything, about the artist or about abstract expressionism, but I can still appreciate his work. It can still mean something to me.

Oftentimes I feel like art isn’t accessible to the general public. It’s too expensive or we get in our heads that art isn’t for us, we won’t be able to understand it. But when it comes down to it, art isn’t about “understanding” it. Art is about experiencing it and feeling it. Whatever you experience and whatever you feel, is right. If you are puzzled by a piece, that’s cool. If you love a piece but you aren’t sure why, that’s cool too. Art is about a person expressing herself, sharing a tiny part of herself with the world, and the world opening its arms to that artist and her being.

I encourage anyone and everyone to visit this museum at least once. It is accessible! Go by yourself if you can, and spend the time to open your heart up to the works that fill the spaces. (Arapahoe Libraries even gives out free passes, so you could go for free). This museum speaks to me in no other way that a museum has spoken to me (and don’t get me wrong, you know I love the Nature and Science Museum and the Denver Art Museum). It’s smaller, more intimate. It was mostly empty of people when I went so I had the chance to be truly alone with most of the pieces, and that, I believe, is partly why this place owns my heart so much. I wasn’t worried about bumping into other people or getting in their way of their viewing. I stood in front of a piece for as long as I needed and wanted and it was lovely. I hope you can do the same.

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