While art lovers appreciate the spectrum offered by the Denver Art Museum, a number of smaller, top-notch art galleries can hold their own against the grande dame. These co-op and niche art galleries are the best in town, known for colorful works utilizing a number of artistic techniques.

(credit: pirateartonline.org)

Pirate: Contemporary Gallery

3655 Navajo Street
Denver, CO 80211
(303) 458-6058

Created in the 1980s, Pirate: Contemporary Gallery put Denver on notice that edgy art was worth a look, and it simultaneously helped put the Highlands neighborhood on the map of Mile High City hipness. With a core group of artists, the works here are eclectic and ever changing. The venue is renowned for its annual Dios de la Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration, as well as a variety of colorful events. Hours: Friday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 12:00 p.m. to 5 p.m. Check the website for additional gallery shows.

(credit: kirklandmuseum.org)

Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

1311 Pearl Street
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 832-8576

You’ll be hard-pressed to find another art venue as fascinating as the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art. With 3,300 objects arranged within 5,000 square feet, it can be initially overwhelming. But allow time to explore…the venue manages to present a vast array of intriguing furniture and interior accessories from 1880 -1980. A variety of styles range from art deco to the aesthetic movement. The gallery has added a Colorado-focused collection, including a retrospective of its founder, painter Vance Kirkland. Careful visitors are welcomed (no children under 13; ladies, watch your humongous designer bags), as intricate, interactive displays often require attentiveness and deliberate movement when viewing.

(credit: pismoglass.com)

PISMO Fine Art Glass

2770 E. 2nd Avenue
Denver, CO 80206
(303) 333-2879

Recognized with national retail and craft-gallery awards, upscale PISMO has been a staple in Cherry Creek North since the 1990s. It’s so popular that sister sites have sprung up over the years in Aspen, Vail and Beaver Creek. Whether it’s glass beads, vases or free-form work, the vibe here is high-end and contemporary, yet the service remains friendly, helpful and down-to-earth. PISMO has expanded its collections into furniture and paintings. Try to hit an opening here – events are as sumptuous and upbeat as the surroundings.

(credit: artdistrictonsantafe.com)

The ArtDistrict on Santa Fe

Santa Fe Drive, between Alameda and 12th Avenues
Denver, CO 80204

We hate to cop out and suggest an entire area of multiple galleries, but The ArtDistrict on Santa Fe presents some of the brightest talents, most interesting works and downright fun events in Denver. Art on display includes sculpture, collage, embroidery, assemblage, ceramics and photography. SPARK Gallery is the mother ship, a cooperative effort with artists that participate in juried exhibits and teach at local schools. Take advantage of First Friday art walks – and you can always grab chow at area restaurants while you’re there.

Lisa L. Perry