design dialogue: jeff wenzel.
August 05, 2011
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ERIC LARS BAKKE
What we love most about Colorado-based abstract expressionist Jeff Wenzel is that art caught him exactly the way it’s supposed to: completely unaware. But instead of quickly forgetting the way it made him feel, he did something that we can’t help but admire: He let it change his life. After a chance encounter with a pottery instructor in college, he was so inspired that he changed his course of study from psychology and anthropology to art, quickly trading in ceramics for the large-scale, mixed-media works he’s now celebrated for. Get to know what his life is like now with these fun Q&As from our archive:
What’s your favorite museum?
The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art in Denver, which preserves the legacy of Colorado artist and educator Vance Kirkland. His former school and studio has become a museum for design and Colorado art from the 20th century to the present.
Which artists do you admire?
Jackson Pollack, Willem de Kooning, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, George Braque, Adolf Wölfli, Martin Ramirez, outsider artists and all child artists.
What’s on your nightstand?
Charles Bukowski’s Tales of Ordinary Madness, The Paintings of Henry Miller: Paint as you like and die happy, and a vintage motocross book.
How do you define luxury?
To have time and freedom, and to be content and inspired.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I’d either be a psychoanalyst or a researcher into human psychology.
Describe your fantasy commission.
I’d like to do something for a performing arts institute—maybe Lincoln Center—a place where artists and musicians come together. Music is my most revered art form.
Jeff Wenzel’s Chaco Canyon, 72” x 80”