For metal artist Dea Shea, known to many as the Iron Maiden of Denver, art is an activity done all on her own. But when the annual Summer Art Market rolls around, her passion becomes a team effort …
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For metal artist Dea Shea, known to many as the Iron Maiden of Denver, art is an activity done all on her own. But when the annual Summer Art Market rolls around, her passion becomes a team effort between her and husband Leif, whom she calls her CEO, because he Carries Everything Out.
“It’s too hard for one person,” Shea said.
Just setting up a booth can take participants five hours or more, she noted. As a result, no one goes it alone — all the artists come with an entourage.
The Art Students League of Denver (ASLD), an organization that offers classes for artists in the Colorado community, hosted its 26th Summer Art Market on the weekend of June 9 and 10. The free event took place in the West Washington Park neighborhood and served as a chance for 234 ASLD artists to showcase and sell their work. A bulk of the booths were stationed on Grant Street from East Fourth Avenue to East First Avenue, with more on East First, Second and Third avenues.
Many artists like Shea enlisted friends or family to help run their booths, while others teamed up with fellow students. For Teri Hoyer, it was a combination of both—she shared a booth with Neal Pierman, fellow ASLD student and husband of three years.
“What’s so great about our partnership is that we’re both interested in landscape, and we’re both in the same places most of the time,” she said. “He’ll photograph it, I’ll paint it.”
Hoyer became interested in art after her retirement and convinced Pierman to rekindle his interest in photography when he retired, too. But as enjoyable as her journey has been, she also recognizes the challenges associated with it.
“Pricing is one of the most difficult things an artist does,” said Hoyer, whose pieces at the market ranged from $120 to $360. “I look at other people’s work, the quality of my work, what it costs me to frame, and I take all those things into consideration.”
Similarly, water color painter Anita Forsyth identifies pricing as the “worst” part of being an artist.
“Someone once told me that they price their art by the inch,” she said. “But then some paintings take a lot longer to make and some much shorter. Some just flow out of you, and some you have to really work on.”
Her pieces varied from $25 to $250, a price range she looked forward to comparing to other artists’ when she looked around the festival on her break. In the meantime, she had someone else gathering intel —artist and longtime friend S.A. Bennett.
Forysth has been an artist for a year and a half. She had never shown work before at the Summer Art Market, and Bennett was a huge source of support.
“She’s been an artist her whole life,” Forsyth said.
Bennett not only shared a booth with her, but was also the one to suggest showing at the market in the first place.
Forsyth was also encouraged by friends in attendance, as well as the crowd that many ASLD students agreed was extremely high-energy.
“This is one of the best shows in Denver. It’s a fun group that comes out for it,” said ceramics artist Wiladine Eggerman. “They’re really trying to support artists, and you can tell they’re happy about doing that.”
Included in this group were many aspiring and budding artists. Rebecca Schaefer, a regular attendee of the fair and a photographer, felt inspired after viewing the work on display at a printmaking artist’s booth.
“When I was in her booth I was like, `This makes me wanna learn how to do it,’ ” Schaefer said.
The artist in question, Mami Yamamoto, was in the same shoes as Schaefer not long ago. She had never experimented with her preferred art-form, printmaking, before taking her first class at the ASLD in 2014.
“It’s very unique and not many people are familiar with it,” she said.
Because of that, Yamamoto said she gets plenty of questions from prospective customers, and she’s always happy to walk them through her process, step-by-step. For her, that’s one of the most rewarding parts, not only of being an artist, but of showing at this event in particular.
“You can meet with actual customers and talk to them directly, so that’s a benefit of this show,” she said. “I love to meet with someone who responds to my work.”
And for the event’s attendees, the feeling is mutual.
“I’m here because I love seeing what people create,” Schaefer said. “This event is opening me up to new forms of art.”
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