Foothills Art Center: Golden’s Spiritual Gem

While hundreds of people fight traffic and crowds to view works at the Denver Art Museum, art lovers wanting to view purchasable art from Colorado artists can visit the Foothills Art Center in Golden. Although the center is much smaller than many metropolitan galleries, 32,000 visitors a year travel to the western suburb to take in, and possibly take home, local pieces.

Housed in a 19th century Victorian church, the center functions as a cultural hub for arts and education, yet retains a holy appearance — complete with the original bell tower.

The main building, Foothills I, was built as the First Presbyterian Church in 1872. After the church moved to a larger location, a group of artists and business people bought the church in 1968 to exhibit community art work.

Housed in a 19th century Victorian church, the center functions as a cultural hub for arts and education, yet retains a holy appearance.

In 1983, the neighboring Unger House, built in 1899, was purchased by the center to house a gallery for smaller invitational shows, staff office space and gift shops. The addition is known as Foothills II. Both buildings were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

A feeling of spirituality continues as you wander through the exhibitions. Artworks from local and regional artists cover the white walls of the church, and the intricate stained-glass windows in the main gallery shed a soft glow across paintings and charcoal sketches. While the artworks come from modern artists, wooden pews and an old piano linger in the main gallery, reminding visitors of the building’s past.

When the weather permits, make sure to include a walk through the Carol and Don Dickinson Sculpture Garden, which includes contemporary granite towers by noted sculpture Jesús Moroles. The garden commemorates the commitment and service of former executive director of the Foothills Art Center, Carol Dickinson, and her husband.

The center hosts about six exhibitions a year, including the annual Rocky Mountain National Watermedia and the Holiday Art Market (the center’s main fundraising event). Biennially the center hosts the North American Sculpture Exhibition and the Colorado Art Open.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Colorado Council on the Arts, the center is working with guest curator Rose Glaser Fredrick to present Masterpieces of Colorado Landscape. The exhibition will feature over 60 works that date from the late 19th century through the present.

Artworks from local and regional artists cover the white walls of the church.

Aside from the exhibitions, the center focuses on art education. Each season classes in watercolor, pastel painting and liquid acrylics are offered to adults. In summer, art camp is hosted for younger art enthusiasts. Curator Michael Chavez plans to introduce more education opportunities for families and children.

Before exiting the center, visitors can browse the three-room gift shop and purchase pottery, sculpture, watercolors, clothing and jewelry from Colorado artists.

Although the center has roots in ceramics and watermedia, Chavez says there are plans to update its image by introducing more contemporary exhibits and renovating the exhibition space.

If You Go

Foothills Art Center, 809 15th St., Golden, (303) 279-3922

Open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m. Admission: Adults, $5; Seniors, $3; members, children and full-time students, free. Group tours are available with docents.

Rhiannon Nagy, a native of Iowa, is a senior journalism student at Metropolitan State College of Denver.

From the Editors: We spent a heap of time making sure this story was accurate when it was published, but of course, things can change. Please confirm the details before setting out in our great Centennial State.

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