1136 North Speer Boulevard
Denver, Colorado 80204
phone: +1 303.298.8432
From small seeds, great trees grow.
In about 1934, the twelve-year old Al Wynne watched as an itinerate calligrapher, in exchange for a penny, wrote out his name in beautiful lettering. This small event inspired Al’s great art career. Within the year, Al was studying watercolor at the Broadmoor Academy in Colorado Springs.
At the time the school was a hotbed of art activity and is today a legend in Colorado’s art history. Artists including Robert Reid, Ernest Lawson, Randall Davey and Boardman Robinson, painted, taught and helped guide a new generation to artistic prominence.
“Robinson made me want to be a painter,” Al has said, and that early desire has lasted his lifetime. In 1940, when he graduated from Cheyenne Mountain High School, Al had progressed from watercolors to oils.
Al enrolled at the University of Denver, and in the 1940s, he worked under the tutelage of noted artists such as John Edward Thompson, Watson Bidwell and Carl Fracassini. In 1942 he left D.U. to enlist in the service, piloting planes in World War II.
In 1946, with the war over, Al returned to D.U. and continued his studies there. He again worked with Fracassini, and also took classes from the famous Vance Kirkland. Soon after though, he left D.U. and followed Fracassini to Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. There he received his bachelor’s degree in 1948.
By this time, Al was an accomplished artist. He was a painter, print-maker, wood carver and sculptor. These talents no doubt helped him woo his wife Louise Doughty, the daughter of a Methodist minister. Louise, known as Lou, was an accomplished ceramics student at Wesleyan. They were married in 1951 and have three children—Marsea, Cosette and John.
Both continued to pursue their studies. Lou stayed on in Mount Pleasant while Al went to Iowa City where he did graduate work at the University of Iowa, earning a masters of arts in 1952.
With their respective degrees in hand, Al and Lou traveled, taught and built their art careers. About a decade later they settled in Black Forest, Colorado, north of Colorado Springs. Both taught art; Al at Colorado College, and at the University of Colorado’s Colorado Springs Campus, where he founded the fine art department; and Lou in the public schools. Together they established their own art school in 1963. Called “The New Arts-Crafts School”, it was operated out of their shared studio in Black Forest.
By this time, Al was an established professional artist with a substantial career. In 1971, he gave up teaching to concentrate fulltime on his painting. Over the years he has been the subject of dozens of exhibitions and had received the recognition of his peers in Colorado and throughout the Western region.
At heart, though a painter by profession, Al still considers himself a calligrapher, where his life’s aesthetic journey began all those many years ago. And though his fame was forged a half century ago, in recent years he has been discovered by a new generation, and this exhibit at Z Art Department is the most recent evidence of that.
–Robert Delaney, 2009
“Al Wynne is a master of mid-century abstract expressionism in Colorado. He was associated with the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and was at the center of a scene of vanguard painters active in Colorado Springs in the 1950s through the 1970s. Wynne…is one of the greatest proponents of abstract expressionism in the history of Colorado art.”
by Michael Paglia and Mary Chandler
with a forward by Hugh Grant.
“Al Wynne is one of the most important abstract painters in this region...He mastered his medium early in life and then let his artistic expression flow from inside himself…With his considerable intelligence and his classical education, Al’s paintings are a fascinating blend of intellect, passion and intuition.”
Excerpted from Hugh Grant’s Wynne Wynne,
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
“Al Wynne has kept abreast of many of the important currents in abstraction…And along the way has created a distinctive…style.”
Excerpted from Kyle MacMillan’s
“Galleries highlight Colorado’s top abstract artists”
in The Denver Post.
“Al Wynne's lifelong interest in calligraphy is reflected in many of his abstract paintings, as is his ability to balance form and line and plumb his emotional core for compositions and color selections that are nothing short of exhilarating. Wynne stakes a claim as one of the state's finest painters.”
Excerpted from Mary Voelz Chandler’s
“Show…a worthy celebration”, Rocky Mountain News
“Al Wynne is one of the only living artists with a firsthand association to the now-closed Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center School…He studied there with Boardman Robinson, and, like other students of Robinson, he rejected the teacher’s regionalist style and turned to abstract expressionism.”
Excerpted from Michael Paglia’s
“Ups and Downs” in Westword
“Balancing intuition and formal classical training, emotion and intellect, Al Wynne has painted in grand gestures and more modest dashes and splatters of paint for more than 60 years—a life in art spent outside the mainstream of the market place, but deeply involved with his own advancing aesthetics.”
Excerpted from M.S. Mason’s
“The Calligraphy of Abstract Painting”
in The Christian Science Monitor
Colorado Abstract Expressionism and Al Wynne: A to Z show off the state's abstract-expressionist gems
By Michael Paglia Wednesday, Dec 7 2011
The opening of the Clyfford Still Museum last month has prompted a resurgence of interest in early abstraction in Colorado, from the 1940s to the 1970s. In the beginning, Still was way ahead of even the most advanced artists here — as well as those in New York. Some Colorado practitioners weren't far behind, however. In fact, some were right up there with such New York School luminaries as Adolph Gottlieb and Helen Frankenthaler.
One of the things working against Front Range abstract expressionists is a lack of documentation: Their exploits rarely made the newspapers, and exhibition catalogues are few and far between. In addition, most of the artists are now dead. On a personal note, I had the chance to meet and talk with some of them, including Mary Chenoweth, Al Wynne and Ken Goehring, all of whom are deceased. Read More...
Al Wynne: A to Z Review