DENVER (CBS4) – Artist Duke Beardsley’s latest exhibition “Invasive Splendor” opens this month exploring the history of his upbringing and the direction it’s taking. He hopes it can showcase the bridge between urban and rural as well as modern and traditional in both his art and life.
“Do we own it? That’s a big question I’ve been asking myself lately,” said Beardsley. “Who really does own the West? Who really does belong here?”
Paintings and screen prints made in the last six months have taken over the Space Gallery Annex in Denver’s Baker neighborhood. His work celebrating western icons will showcase classic symbols while also emphasizing unexpected images of the region. Beardsley’s family has a history of ranching and working in the West, living much of his life in Denver.
“I grew up in two worlds,” he told CBS4 on Wednesday. “We’re kind of the urban epicenter of the West.”
He says the contrast between the city and the county influenced his upbringing and now he sees it coming together in his work. It is happening at a time where more people are moving to this part of the country and his home is getting more attention than before. Beardsley notes that not only is there a huge population growth but there is also a higher demand for resources and space, all impacting the culture.
“Whether you came here five minutes ago or 120 years ago. We all belong here,” he said. “It’s a very different time in the West than it has ever been before.”
The work on display in the gallery includes the style he is known for, an outline of a cowboy riding on a horse but also some of the plants local to the region. The subjects he paints like cowboys, cowgirls, and horses; he knows personally. But while he appreciates the global recognition they get as western icons, he says the plants should be up there with them.
“The true western natives, the true western icons,” Beardsley said of the plants. “They were here before us, they will be here after us.”
The solo exhibition is another opportunity for his style of art to go before the public. Beardsley says he has idolized those before him in this genre, who were masters in the field. But he believes there has never been a better time than now to see it take center stage.
“Western art has not received the recognition it deserves,” he said. “It’s an important voice in an important region.”
As a resident of the city and someone who also lives on a ranch, he is inspired by those two scenes mixing just as he does with his art. He believes whether you are a native or new to the region, you belong.
His exhibition will be on display at the gallery located on 95 S. Cherokee Street until Nov. 30. It is open Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“If you’re here and you’ve decided to make this your home, you’re part of it,” Beardsley said. “The west is you and you are the west so I like the idea that we’re all in this together.”