Artistic Expression Across All Spectrums
The population of Denver is multiplying and, with that growth, the city’s art scene is becoming more and more exciting. This month we interviewed four artists and craftspeople at the forefront of Denver’s community of makers–Marsha Robinson of Strange Dirt, Jon and Deana Ketchum of New Collar Goods, and Bonnie Gregory, artist and welder.
Marsha Robinson || Strange Dirt
Marsha Robinson, self-taught artist and the woman behind Strange Dirt, Robinson’s art brand, creates whimsical yet complex botanical pieces reminiscent of the Art-Deco era. Her work is ever evolving; what began as a passion for fashion design and a focus on the female figure is now more of a floral theme.
“The botanical world fascinated me – I think of it as the ultimate example of true, natural beauty,” says Robinson.
Along with the content of her work, the mediums Robinson employs also continue to shift and expand. Though her current body of work began with paper and ink drawings, she has now realized her designs as apparel patches, textile wall hangings, and glassware.
“It won’t stop there,” Marsha says. “I plan to keep the wheel turning and continually add new facets to my work.”
Robinson recently signed up for a ceramics course and is hoping to soon see her work in 3-D.
While many elements of Robinson’s work are continually moving, the message Robinson works to communicate has remained consistent. “My mission as an artist is simple – to spread beauty,” reflects Robinson. “I want to move and uplift people’s spirits.” Robinson’s intricate botanical designs, enveloped by her Art-Deco sensibility, undoubtedly achieve this goal.
StrangeDirt.com | @strangedirt
“This city is growing and trying to find its voice and, because of this, I’ve been able to make a mark.”
Jon and Deana Ketchum || New Collar Goods
Deana and Jon Ketchum grew up 4 hours north of New York City in a tiny town called Greenwich. Now married, the two spent their childhoods creating and building odds and ends. Currently, for the past two years, Deana and Jon co-own and operate New Collar Goods, a two-person woodworking studio that fabricates simple and functional furniture as well as custom-made pieces.
Soon after college, Deana and Jon decided it was time to move somewhere new. They quit their jobs, packed up their dog and headed out to Colorado for their first time, the state that would become their new home. After they arrived, Jon and Deana were left with the question of how to furnish their empty apartment.
“Building furniture for ourselves quickly translated to building furniture for friends,” Jon explains. “Soon we were building furniture for people we had never met! We designed a furniture line, built a website and New Collar Goods was formed.”
As for the future?
“We dream of building a beautiful shop someday where we feel inspired and can work on multiple jobs at a time,” the couple says.
With the success that New Collar Goods has already experienced, we hope to be seeing their work around Denver for a long time to come.
NewCollarGoods.com | new_collar_goods
“We had never been to Colorado before, but the city scene looked really appealing and living near the Rockies was a dream.”
Bonnie Gregory || Artist and Welder
Bonnie Gregory has been experimenting with metal since high school. Growing up outside of Philadelphia in a predominantly Mennonite community, Gregory was surrounded by farm tools and friends who made their own fun.
“My grandfather is a spring manufacturer, and he had a lot of old cars and things like that,” Gregory remembers. “I’ve pretty much always been around machines and metal.”
Gregory now works building furniture and on numerous artistic collaborations. Currently, she fabricates the furniture designs of different architectural firms for commercial spaces.
“The furniture that I make will be here long after I am,” Gregory says, “and I want my pieces to disappear into the overall space.”
Artistically, Gregory worked on “Shadow Array,” Patrick Marold’s massive sculpture flanking the train platform at DIA. She also worked with Ravi Zupa on “Mightier Than,” a series of sculptural machine guns made from antique typewriter parts.
Gregory’s life is conventional in certain respects (she is a mother of two), but brimming with adventure in others. She loves to sail and travel and has worked in many cities including Reykjavik–her adoptive home. Her children, ages 9 and 11, are now old enough to join Gregory on her adventures.
“They’re very kind, courteous people, and always up for new things,” Gregory says of her children. “I feel very blessed.”
“I just want to use my hands well.”