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MSU Denver's Center for Visual Art Anchors Art District

The space consists of a 9,000-square-foot gallery and a 5,000-square-foot gallery, plus a classroom and plenty of storage space.

Students' work is displayed along with artists' work.

The CVA moved from LoDo to the Art District of Santa Fe in 2010.

The CVA looks to collaborate with arts organizations in Denver whenever possible.

Students of all ages get a hands-on introduction to all kinds of art at the CVA.

Curator Cecily Cullen installs artat the CVA.

Working artists and students mingle and collaborate at the constantly evolving Metro State Center for Visual Art at 965 Santa Fe Dr. Currently on display are two exhibits featuring works by arts educators, with an emphasis on process.
The Metro State Center for Visual Art (CVA) moved from LoDo to the Art District on Santa Fe in 2010, and the move has been far more than a mere change of scenery.

"We've really developed and changed who we are," says Cecily Cullen, Creative Director and Curator. "A lot of people now see the CVA as a real anchor in the Art District."

For one thing, this CVA is much bigger than its predecessor. The space consists of a 9,000-square-foot gallery and a 5,000-square-foot gallery, plus a classroom and plenty of storage space. The CVA moved from LoDo to the Art District of Santa Fe in 2010.

In the back of the house, Cullen shows a hallway clad in artistic photography. "This is one way we've changed," she says. "This was just a hallway before. Last fall, we started curating it as a gallery space."

That inaugural show featured the works of students along those of internationally renowned photographers. "Michael Paglia said it was the most successful part of the show," says Cullen.

The classroom is another critical feature to the evolution of the CVA since it relocated from a smaller space in LoDo three years ago. "Now we just bring students here," says Cullen. "They're here interacting with artists. It makes it more concrete."

"The mix of students and these artists is so exciting," she adds.

Workforce readiness is a big part of the CVA mission, Cullen notes. "We have a staff of just four people, plus Metro State students. We really look at it as an apprenticeship program."

Ryan McFarlin is a MSU Denver student whose involvement with the CVA led to paid work on art installations at Denver International Airport. "It's been a good gig," he says.

Cullen also looks to collaborate with arts organizations in Denver whenever possible. A spring break workshop brought together 10- to 14-year-olds with dancers, costumers and choreographers from the Colorado Ballet, a joint effort that culminated in a performance by the students. "The gallery was their stage," she says.Students of all ages get a hands-on introduction to all kinds of art at the CVA.

Another feature: a parking lot that allows the arts to spill outdoors. "We have food trucks and bands in the parking lot," says Cullen. "It's allowed us to have this space inside and out."

Now up until Sept. 21 are two shows: a collaboration with the Colorado Arts Education Association, Interrupted Process, and Theory Loves Practice, with the works of 18 educators and a spotlight on their artistic process.

The shows are concurrent with the Biennial of the Americas. "What a perfect way to riff off of that -- to take a look at process," says Cullen.

Upcoming events include an exhibition of BFA thesis projects in October and contemporary Native American art in November.

Read more articles by Eric Peterson.

Eric is a Denver-based tech writer and guidebook wiz. Contact him here.
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