Art stalk: Daniel Sprick from here to The DAM
Free Press Columnist
It was a long time ago when I was first introduced to the work of Daniel Sprick. I was a 24-year-old undergraduate student traveling on summer vacation to Gustavas, Alaska.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I “art stalk.” Even at that young age I was hungry and wanted to be around art always. I drove into Denver, went directly to Pirates & Robischon Gallery, and then ran as fast as I could to the Denver Art Museum, all before heading to the Denver airport.
It was at the Denver Art Museum I saw my first Sprick paintings; he must have only been in his late 30s when he had that exhibit in 1992. This body of work filled the exhibition spaces with life-size nudes standing in lavish interiors. The painted nudes were body relational to the viewer, making the impression that the painted individuals were occupying the exhibit space right along with you. They were realistic, but not. They were heightened in experience. And the color — the reds were so rich they reminded me of the Renaissance painter Titian or maybe like the lavish films of Peter Greenaway in the 1990s. (I am name dropping only because I know my interested readers can Google much of this information.)
When I became curator of The Western Colorado Center for the Arts in Grand Junction, I was asked to drop off Daniel Sprick’s work from an exhibit. We met and immediately started talking about film. We talked about Wim Wenders’ new film on dance in 3D, and our interest in all of Werner Herzog’s work. We both love and are influenced by film.
Walking around his Western Slope studio in Glenwood Springs, I saw all these amazing portraits, and I even knew a few of the people he had painted. Then he asked to take my picture and I thought nothing of it. Until I came back to pick up some auction work and I saw my portrait was done. Twenty-two years after seeing his work at the DAM, Sprick had done my portrait! He even got my hair — that way I miss whole patches of combing every morning. He has the same problem with primping as I do.
It was a bit uncomfortable seeing my portrait for the first time. I could not look at it because I felt a bit narcissistic in his presence. I had to apologize later to Sprick for not looking at it.
Anyway this man’s portraits will be on display at the DAM, June 29 through Nov. 2, 2014, and I thought you should know about it. He is a distinguished Mesa State College alumnus, he’s in The Art Center Permanent Collection, and his work will be featured in The Art Center’s upcoming fine art auction. He was also a mentor to local legends in landscape, like the late Tom Stubbs.
The exhibit will hold a few still lifes, as well as his portrait series. The name of the exhibit is “Daniel Sprick Fictions,” and it’s on the second floor of the new Hamilton Building of The Denver Art Museum.
Sprick believes all of his works are “based on realities, but go in different directions.” They have always hit me as ordinary, banal and then simultaneously mythological. The subjects are ordinary and extraordinary, true and not true. They flip back and forth and are unable to be pinned downed, while feeling utterly specific and clear. How does he do that?
The upcoming exhibit is curated by Timothy Standring, the same curator who pulled together the monumental Vincent Van Gogh Exhibit that was most recently on exhibit at the DAM. Sprick was impressed with Standring’s curation in that he documents that “art is not born in a vacuum.” He demystifies our belief in “genius.” Standring puts forth the artists process, drive and effort.
Please visit the Denver Art Museum and see the works of Daniel Sprick. His draws from the traditions of realism, but demands that it remains a puzzle and moves into the realm of contemporary life and individual transcendence. This body of work binds complexities in ways that keeps realism unnameable and perplexing. It’s all so exacting and all so up in the air, so illusive to a final read. We often do not think of realism in this way.
I hope to write more about this exhibit when it opens this summer. Until then I will stalk others and wait for this opening, like so many that know and appreciate the lifelong effort of Daniel Sprick.
Locally Daniel Sprick’s work will be up at The Art Center through March 18 and at The Fine Art Auction on May 1-2.
Camille Silverman, a columnist for the Grand Junction Free Press, holds a Masters of Fine Art from Cranbrook Art Academy located outside of Detroit, Mich. She attended Cranbrook as well as The School of the Chicago Art Institute. Silverman currently holds the position of curator and executive director at The Western Colorado Center for the Arts, aka The Art Center.
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