Portico Gallery

Phil Bender

1947, St. Louis, Missouri
Lives in Denver, Colorado

Belts, 2014

Vintage souvenir beaded belts

Bender’s art has been described as a search and recovery operation since he collects, arranges, and makes art from an almost unbelievable array of decidedly non-art materials, including, but certainly not limited to, crushed aerosol cans, hubcaps, pitchforks, salt shakers, photos of Princess Di, happy birthday paper plates, tennis racquets, bathtubs... the list goes on and on.

These vintage souvenir beaded belts, arranged from very large to very small and bearing the names of many states and the patina of many uses is a reminder of past times and past waist sizes.

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Mary Ehrin

Los Angeles
Lives in Denver and Los Angeles

Molten Meteorites, 2014

Metallic leather

Raised in Los Angeles in a family closely connected to the glory days of Hollywood, Mary Ehrin comes naturally to the world of fantasy and illusion. Striving for "fabulousness" her work is hallmarked by the use of unusual and luxurious materials.

In this work, Ehrin tailors river rocks with metallic leather to transform them into molten meteorites that resemble giant gold nuggets and that may even bring to mind the role of the gold rush in Colorado history.

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Tracy Emin

1963, Croydon, United Kingdom
Lives in London

I Can Feel Your Smile, 2005

Snow-white neon

Tracey Emin is known for wearing her heart on her sleeve, for sharing her feelings and thoughts through her work. It’s tempting to think she might have created this work in anticipation of the pleasure you would take in the surprises of the ART hotel.

Throughout her career she has used all sorts of skills to create sculptures in unexpected mediums that are often confessional in nature, but it is in her bright neons, written in her own hand, that she most directly communicates with her audience.

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Sam Francis

1923, San Mateo, California
1994, Santa Monica, California

Guyotat's Cross, 1988

Acrylic on canvas

Though he was a generation younger than Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollock, Sam Francis was the first American abstract expressionist to make a reputation overseas. After leaving the Army Air Force in 1944, he lived, worked, and exhibited in Paris, Bern, New York, and Tokyo.

Never easy to classify, Francis became best known for his splashy, abstract, energetic, light filled, joyous paintings. The title of this darker and more emotional painting alludes to the controversial French author Pierre Guyotat, who suffered a breakdown in the early 1980s. Made when Francis was losing his own battle against the poor health he suffered most of his life, the painting explodes with an intensity reminiscent of Clyfford Still, one of Francis's early mentors in San Francisco.

He is much admired for his very large paintings at the San Francisco International Airport.

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Frank Gehry

1929, Toronto, Canada
Lives in Santa Monica, California

Fish Lamp, 1984

Formica ColorCore® Laminate, silicone and wood

Frank Gehry is credited with changing the face of contemporary architecture by creating revolutionary building configurations. These new forms found their earliest notable expression in the titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (1997), and most recently in the”glass cloud” Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris (2014).

His “Fish Lamps” grew out of a 1983 commission to create a work using the Formica Corporation’s thennew plastic laminate. The artist’s continuing fascination with the fish motif began when a length of the material fell, shattering into shards that suggested fish scales.

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Sol LeWitt

1928, Hartford, Connecticut
2007, New York City

Wall Drawing #397, 1983

Plaster and paint

Painter, sculptor, conceptual artist, LeWitt believed it was more natural to work directly on the wall than to paint on a constructed canvas and then hang that on the wall. Inspired by the frescoes of Giotto and other Florentine painters, he created his first “wall drawing” in 1968.

Consistent with the principle that his works could be executed by others who would precisely follow his instructions, this drawing was conceived of by LeWitt in 1983, but produced on the wall here in 2014 by a team of artists, including several art students from the University of Denver.

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Odili Donald Odita

966 Enugu, Nigeria
Lives in Philadelphia, PA
  1. Expand, 2014
  2. Flashpoint, 2014
  3. Windows, 2014

Acrylic on canvas

Sometimes uninterrupted, smooth and lyrical, and others times jagged and dissonant, the shifting rhythms in Odita's works are always dazzling and more thought provoking than mere abstractions. He often uses music as the basis of the conceptual and emotional structure of the work the paintings. And the colors he uses are very personal, reflective of visions experienced thru his global and local travelling. He believes that ""Color in itself has the possibility of mirroring the complexity of the world"". His palette, drawn from his African heritage emphasizes this belief.

These modestly sized works only hint at his ability to create works that encompass entire rooms, such as the the installation he created for the prestigious 52nd Venice Biennial or the huge murals he completed for the United States Mission for the United Nations.

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Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bru

Claes Oldenburg - 1929, Stockholm, Sweden Lives in New York
Coosje van Bruggen - 1942, Groningen, Netherlands 2009, Los Angeles, California

Big Sweep, 2006

Stainless steel, aluminum, fiber reinforced plastic, painted with polyurethane enamell

Oldenburg and his wife, Coosje van Bruggen, created some of the most beloved and witty public sculptures in America by supersizing everyday objects.

This scale model of the thirty-five-foot-tall BIG SWEEP nestled beside the Denver Art Museum was part of their DUST BIN OF HISTORY series and was inspired by seeing city workers sweeping Denver's very clean streets on a typically windy day. The tilt of the dustpan mimics the shape of the mountains in the distance, and the slits on the pan echo the window slits on the Museum's Gio Ponti building.

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Leo Villareal

1967, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Lives in New York

Untitled, 2014-15

LEDs, custom software, and electrical hardware

This signature work, commissioned for the exterior of the ART, was created by embedding over 22,000 white LED nodes into the ceiling of the building’s porte cochère. Visitors are welcomed to the hotel with an ever-changing light display of abstract patterns controlled by Villareal’s computer programming that regulates their opacity, speed and scale.

Another of his renowned installations is the 2013 Bay Lights, a site-specific 1.8-mile display of LED patterns that never repeat themselves on the cables of the north side of the San Francisco- Oakland suspension bridge.

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