Longtime Denver artist's work goes on display


William Joseph had a long and impressive artistic career in Denver (1926 to 2003).

Joseph painted, sculpted, taught and had a long relationship with Vance Kirkland. It's appropriate that a retropective exhibit of these works of a master artist, many loaned by the Joseph family, be shown at the Kirkland Museum, the former studio of Joseph's teacher.

It will be in place through Nov. 11 and shows 72 Joseph works: 37 sculptures, 31 paintings, prints and drawings and four pieces of jewelry, spanning 54 years. Lenders to the exhibit are the Joseph family, Denver Public Library, Rod Greiner, Janis and Bill Keske, Deborah and Warren Wadsworth and the Kirkland Museum.

Joseph's wife Barbara has cared for the family's collection of his work, with help from his children

The sculptor/painter received more than 60 commissions, comprising 277 documented works in at least eight states. Among those is Littleton's City Center Fountain, “Untitled,” a 7-by-5-foot bronze, created in 1977, commissioned by Littleton's Fine Arts Committee.

His range of skills in numerous media is impressive: The visitor sees works in bronze, steel, clay, wood, oil painted canvas, watercolor, prints, drawings, acrylic, egg tempera, colored pencil, enamel, ink, stained glass and encaustic (hot wax).

Joseph was a lifelong educator. He taught at the Denver Art Museum (1948-1951). University of Denver (1950-1952), and Loretto Heights College (1957-1988).

His family's plan for him involved taking over his family's successful optometry business in Denver — an opportunity he declined after working there during high school. He attended Regis Catholic High School and started at Regis University. Since it did not offer art classes, he transferred to the Kirkland School of Art. It operated from 1932 to 1946 on the site of the present museum named for Kirkland. It offered a curriculum with the University of Colorado-Denver.

When Vance Kirkland returned to the University of Denver, Joseph followed him and received a BFA and an MA.

His works are displayed in the central gallery as one enters and in the gallery to the left. As is the custom at the Kirkland, they are in the company of furniture and other items from the Kirkland's vast collection of 20th-century decorative art.

If you go

The Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art is at 1311 Pearl St., Denver. Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: $ 7. 303-832-8576, kirklandmuseum.org.


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