Denver's creative community is thriving like never before. Here are just a handful of active Denver-based artists who are making waves in the arts world.
"I have always loved mathematics and the visual arts," says Denver artist Kagen Schaefer. "The trouble was, how do you combine the two?" Schaefer answered this question with his ongoing series of beautifully crafted wooden puzzle boxes, which can only be opened through complex manipulations. The angles, interlocking pieces, and forms demonstrate his skills as a mathematician and as a craftsman. The resulting boxes are nothing short of magical.
A true renaissance man, Denver's Ed Dwight has spent time as an Air Force test pilot, a restaurateur, a computer systems engineer - and America's first African-American astronaut trainee. But his true calling is as a sculptor - he spent the last three decades creating an impressive body of work, including "Jazz: An American Art Form." This series of more than 70 bronzes depicts the evolution of jazz music from its roots in Africa to the superstars of the Jazz Era, and focuses on this style as a pure American musical idiom. Pieces from the critically acclaimed "Jazz" series are on display throughout the United States. Beyond his own art, Dwight's company, Ed Dwight Studios Inc., has developed into one of the largest single-artist production and marketing facilities in the American West.
Dwight's magnificent Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in City Park is one of the largest tributes to Dr. King and the civil rights movement in the country.
MICHAEL AND KATHERINE MCCOY
The Front Range-based McCoys are two of the world's foremost authorities on modern design and architecture. They are the first recipients of the Smithsonian's Design Minds National Design Award for, in the words of the museum, "visionaries who have affected a paradigm shift in design thinking."
The couple is also the brains behind High Ground, a unique studio/workshop space 13,000 feet above sea level in the Rocky Mountains, dedicated to "questioning assumptions and redefining the nature of design."
A photographer, sculptor and community arts activist, Michael Rieger made a name for himself capturing some of the world's most dangerous areas on film, thanks to his job as a photographer and public information officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Rieger also has worked internationally, using his lens to capture moments of community building and artistic expression throughout the world, including places like Thailand, Egypt and Europe. But Rieger, a native Coloradan, hasn't forgotten his roots. As one of the owners of Lapis Gallery in the Tennyson Street Cultural District, he is a tireless supporter of local artists and supports the work of the next generation of artists as art director for the Larimer Arts Association and the curating artist for Project LEAD, a program that helps bring arts education into the Denver Public Schools.
Rieger's work has been shown in many galleries, festivals and museums throughout the United States, but you can see some of the best for yourself at Lapis Gallery.
JILL HADLEY HOOPER
Named one of Denver's "unsung heroes" by The Rocky Mountain News, Jill Hadley Hooper is an acclaimed illustrator and painter whose work has been seen in the pages of Harper's, The New York Times and Time Magazine. She is also the co-founder, along with Tracy Weil, of the thriving River North Art District. Hooper's work boasts a timeless, handmade quality that makes her one of Denver's most unique artists.