Colorado’s De Wain Valentine Comes Home for Exhibit and Honors in Fort Collins
The University Art Museum at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, is featuring Colorado’s Valentine, an exhibition of the work of artist De Wain Valentine, from Oct. 2 – Dec. 14 in the museum’s Robert W. Hoffert and Intimate Galleries. General museum hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and admission is free.
Los Angeles-based artist, De Wain Valentine was born in 1936 in Fort Collins, Colo. He was raised in Fort Collins and graduated from Fort Collins High School in the historic building that now houses the University Art Museum. This exhibition surveys Valentine’s work, from his celebrated cast resin sculptures of the late 1960s and 1970s, to his large-scale public art commissions, to his recent polycarbonate and acrylic paintings. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with essays by New York art critic Peter Plagens and museum director Linny Frickman, whose article explores Valentine’s key experiences as a youth in Fort Collins that influenced the trajectory of his artistic practice. It was as a boy in Colo. that Valentine first experimented with plastics, the material for which he has achieved extraordinary recognition in the art world.
Below is a brief snippet from Plagens essay. To read the full essay, get a copy of the lovely catalog the museum has produced for this exhibition.
DE WAIN VALENTINE AND THE PROFUNDITY OF PLEASURE
1. you can take the boy out of colorado…
At dinner, recently, in a neighborhood restaurant in New York—which he’s visiting to tend to some business relating to the art world’s rekindled interest in his work—De Wain Valentine refers to himself as “the old cowboy.” He says it with a mildly rueful smile, partly because he’s now 75 and, although he’s lived a pretty good life near surfable beaches in California and Hawaii, and has seen his work enjoy both commercial and critical success, he has never quite hit the pages of the history books with the impact of some of his contemporaries. He also says it because he is kind of an old cowboy. Valentine was raised around horses in Colorado, and got his first Stetson when he was three years old. He remembers the hat as being as tall and wide as he was.1 today, a cowboy hat—he fancies gunfighter black—is still as much a part of Valentine’s head as his curly, dirty blonde hair. “Cowboy” has other meanings, too, that can apply to Valentine. In the art world, it’s someone who forgoes the security of, say, an art-teaching job in order to stay full-time in the studio, and takes his chances with galleries and collectors rather than dance to the tune of an academic bureaucracy. That—except for a few guest gigs early on—is Valentine. In southern California art precincts, the term also implies somebody who’s somewhat off the Brentwood lawn-party trail, who doesn’t have his studio nestled in one of those “creative community” neighborhoods. valentine does his work down in what the architecture critic Reyner Banham called Los Angeles’s “Plains of Id,” in Gardena, of longtime draw-poker-palace fame. His neighbor makes dental ceramics.
Before he hit puberty, Valentine was finishing car bodies with multiple layers of lacquer, and when his car-dealer dad started selling boats, he became familiar with fiberglass. Yes, Valentine painted and studied with the likes of Richard Diebenkorn and Clyfford Still at the University of Colorado in Boulder. But “plastics”—a catch-all term for synthetic sculpture materials such as Lucite and cast resin—is where Valentine started, maintained, and barring any sudden, late-career 90-degree turns in his aesthetic, ended up. During a stop in Chicago on a postgraduate trip to New York, trying unsuccessfully to interest galleries in his sculpture made with plastics, Valentine visited the art institute, where he encountered work by Larry Bell who, he’s said, was already one of his heroes. inspired, Valentine moved to Los Angeles in 1965 and taught a class in “plastics technology” at U.C.L.A.
Valentine will present an artist’s talk about his work as part of the University Art Museum’s Critic and Artist Residency Series, on Monday, Oct. 1 at 5 p.m. in the Griffin Concert Hall at the University Center for the Arts. An opening reception for the exhibition will follow the lecture in the University Art Museum. These programs are free and open to the public.
Colorado’s Valentine and De Wain Valentine’s residency are sponsored by the FUNd Endowment at Colorado State University. Additional funding is provided by the City of Fort Collins Fort Fund, the Lilla B. Morgan Memorial Fund, and Beet Street/AIR (Art Incubator of the Rockies).
The University Art Museum is located in the University Center for the Arts, 1400 Remington Street. For further information please call (970) 491-1989 or visit the museum’s website at www.artmuseum.colostate.edu.