Celebrating 35 years of Colorado artists

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Growing up in Denver, Griffin Callahan enjoyed going to the Art Students League of Denver’s annual Summer Art Market.

At the Summer Art Market, “you get to see the whole ASLD community on display in such a large way,” Callahan said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone has been working so hard on through the year.”

Callahan graduated from Denver East High School in 2014, then headed to Illinois to attend college at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He then came back to Denver and in 2021, started working at the ASLD. Today, he wears three hats at the ASLD — he works with registration in the administration department, he is the ceramics studio technician and he teaches wheel throwing.

“My passion for teaching has grown more than expected,” Callahan said, adding he enjoys seeing students get excited about something new they’re learning. “I love seeing people get that creative engine going.”

Though Callahan has been involved with the Summer Art Market in various ways in the past, this will be the first year he’ll be an artist vendor. He and John Hamilton, the ceramics studio manager, will be sharing a booth this year. Both are looking forward to engaging with the community on topics such as technique and process.

The Summer Art Market — known affectionately as SAM among attendees and participants — takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 27 and 28 in the blocks surrounding the ASLD building at Second Avenue and Grant Street in Denver’s Speer neighborhood.

This year is the 29th Summer Art Market, and there will be about 125 vendor artists there. All mediums will be represented, and one of the best things about the Summer Art Market is that it showcases all the mediums that people can a take a course on at the ASLD, said Tessa Crisman, the communications manager for ASLD. These mediums include ceramics, fiber arts, mixed media/book art, painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, jewelry and sculpture.

ASLD faculty instructors will be giving two artist demos each day — one in the morning, and one in the afternoon.

Summer Art Market offers such a friendly vibe, Crisman said. There will be artists who have been selling their work at Summer Art Market for many years, and others who are, for the first time, testing the waters of selling their art, Crisman said.

Because there will be a wide variety of artists and mediums, there will be a wide variety of price points.

“There will be something in everybody’s price range,” Crisman said.

Another great attraction to Summer Art Market is that all the artists have a tie to ASLD — whether they are a student, volunteer, member, serve on the board, instructor or other staffer, Crisman said.

“It’s community-focused,” Crisman said. “And oriented toward local artists and what this state has to offer.”

The Summer Art Market is a fun event on its own, but this year, there is even more reason to come out. The ASLD, which is a nonprofit arts organization, is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. In August 1987, it was incorporated as a nonprofit. Its humble beginnings started with about five courses, 100 students and a handful of instructors.

Today, there are about 130 faculty instructors, 125 course offerings per month and the organization annually serves about 14,000 students of all abilities and ages through its various community engagement programs, fine arts classes, workshops, teen studios and summer camps.

It is located in the historic Sherman School. Built in 1893, the Sherman School is one of only a few of architect Henry Dozier’s structures still in existence, states the ASLD’s website.

“It’s such a fun and creative environment to be in. People absolutely love this place,” Callahan said. And “our community is crucial to our existence.”

Being a nonprofit, the Summer Art Market is an annual fundraiser for ASLD. Proceeds go toward the ASLD’s community engagement programs, scholarships, classes and general operations.

But it’s also a time to celebrate Colorado’s local art scene, Crisman said.

Summer Art Market “is a celebration of our community, and even more so this year,” Crisman said. “We’re so excited to be celebrating our roots with our anniversary this year.”

Art Students League of Denver. Summer Art Market, Colorado

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