The Art and Soul Gallery, located on the East End of Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall area, has been recognized as “Boulder’s Best Gallery” by the Boulder Weekly Readers Poll for six years in a row. After visiting the award-winning establishment, I understand the surrounding hype. The gallery boasts a distinctive and inviting atmosphere, while housing an excellent variety of bold and thoughtful exhibits.
Immediately, walking through the doors, I was struck by the bright and colorful environment. The clean white walls served as the perfect, undistracting backdrop for intricate and colorful art. The greens, blues and reds popped on the canvasses in contrast to the sterile, colorless walls. The minimalistic bones of the gallery, itself, were instrumental in creating a chic and tranquil home for the vivid exhibition pieces.
The paintings were framed simply and tastefully. No abuse of ornate framing was used – just clean, unadorned matted wall art and photography, which showcased beautifully in their modest environment. I appreciated the sense of openness surrounding the individual pieces. There was no sense of the overcrowded-type exhibition displays, which force works to compete with one another. Each work was given adequate room to breathe, glow and be enjoyed.
Most of the pieces throughout the space shared lighting sources. Few, if any, received direct, over-the-site illumination. This didn’t seem to negate or dull the rich hues and textures of the displayed items; however, more thorough lighting may have further enhanced them. Regardless, the exhibits were easily accessible and easily viewable. The somewhat soft lighting did, at least, have an ambient affect.
After taking in the immediate visual sensations of the gallery, I was greeted by a smiling employee. In a feat of unexpected friendliness, she walked directly to me and introduced herself right away. We shook hands and exchanged names. She seemed pleased about my first trip to the gallery and welcomed me to view all the exhibits, particularly the new jewelry arrivals. She took the time to answer each of my questions and proved very knowledgeable about the art and the artists. She encouraged me to take my time and “let her know if I had any questions.”
At any other place of business, I might have been caught off guard by such a lavish demonstration of hospitality, but I was somewhat prepared. Before my visit, I had been informed (by several sources) of the one-of-a-kind Art and Soul Gallery staff: They love what they do and enjoy sharing their beautiful place of employment with others. I also remembered reading that the owner, Debbie Kline, had an “extensive customer service” background. It seemed obvious to me that she pulled from her experience and trained a staff well-groomed in customer relations. My upbeat interaction with the personable gallery greeter further endeared the place to me and enhanced my experience.
With friendly permission to look around, I began my exploration.
Most of the art in the main room was vibrant and energizing, which defined my initial impression of the gallery. The overarching collage of color and mediums collaborated in effecting a warm and lively space. Each display drew me into the next. Flow throughout the gallery was easily negotiated and visitor friendly.
I was impressed by the variety of exhibitions available. I kept stumbling from one art medium into another: Paintings, sculpture, jewelry and exquisite crafts. Each element was distinctive and unique yet, they blended in seamless refinement. As I moved from display to display, I was struck by the clear common denominator of creative modern design shared by all. An air of sophistication and edginess marked almost every single piece.
Sculptures and crafts were unmistakably contemporary in color and form. Jewelry was youthful and playful, yet without losing a smidgen of elegance. This same spirit of fresh inspiration and forward design seemed prevalent throughout the gallery; not only in the pieces, but in the structure of the gallery’s presentation.
Several other visitors were enjoying the gallery alongside me, but it never felt cramped or uncomfortable. The room generously accommodated all of our curiosity-led wandering ways. Corporately, we shared personal and private moments of inspiration and admiration.
Although, the building, itself, seemed moderate in size – perhaps, even smallish- the feeling was not “small”. The gallery designers effectively appropriated the space available and created a feeling of breadth and expansiveness with the tall, unfinished ceilings and light-reflecting wood floors. This, coupled with an uncluttered motif, stimulated a sense of grandeur when viewing the art. It is my opinion that the layout was planned and executed with obvious care and clever solutions.
I had a wonderful experience at the Art and Soul Gallery – the art was displayed impeccably, the service was friendly and the works of modernism were brilliant.