Slideshow: Colorado art institutions highlight western landscapes

(Photo: Courtesy of Goodwin Fine Art)
<p>Beau Carey&#039;s oil painting “Snake River” is on display at Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities&#039; “Discovering and Interpreting the West: 21st Century Landscapes” exhibition.</p>

With a year-long celebration of the Rocky Mountain National Park’s 100th anniversary underway, several Colorado cultural institutions are exploring how western landscapes inspire art.

CPR’s Arts Bureau compiled a list of activities and exhibitions that explore artists’ continued fascination with the American West.

"Discovering and Interpreting the West”
Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, Arvada
Through Nov. 16

Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities’ exhibition explores artists’ fascination with western geography and ideology across three centuries. Spanning from the early 19th century to present day, the exhibition features works by such artists as German-American painter Albert Bierstadt, lithographer and illustrator Karl Bodmer, American printmaker and painter Thomas Moran and cartographer Charles Preuss. The show also includes works by Colorado-based contemporary artists.

“Rocky Mountain National Park Centennial Celebration Paint Out and Show”
Various venues, Estes Park
Through Sept. 28

The Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters (RMPAP), a collective of professional artists across the country who focus on outdoor painting, is partnering with the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) and the Rocky Mountain Conservancy to host a series of celebratory activities for the park’s centennial. The event begins with a "plein air paint-off" in RMNP and the Estes Park area. (Plein air is a French word meaning “in the open air,” a term often used to describe painting outdoors.) The plein air painting activities culminate with an exhibition at RMNP’s Fall River Visitor Center on Sept. 25. Other events include ranger-led talks about the role artists played in the park's early years, an art sale and painting demonstrations.

“Catching Fire”
Ice Cube Gallery, Denver
Now through Oct. 11

Textile artist Regina Benson draws from her personal experience of the 2008 wildfire on Green Mountain in the Front Range for her exhibition at the Ice Cube Gallery, an artist cooperative in Denver. “Catching Fire” is Benson's reflection on how wildfires shape and change the state’s western landscapes. The experimental installation features 11 suspended, large cloth monoliths that highlight different stages of an igniting fire.

While many artists still seek out inspiration from the state’s western landscapes, CPR arts reporter Corey H. Jones and digital videographer Irvin Coffee recently took a ride in a six-seat Cessna airplane with a Denver aerial photographer who finds beauty in Colorado’s eastern region.

Watch the exclusive CPR video here.