Collecting art is a 'fabulous journey'

Denver artist Desmond O'Hagan discusses painting, collecting

Christy Steadman
csteadman@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 11/12/21

“Art is the soul of a home.” This phrase struck Desmond O'Hagan the first time he heard it. “In a time when many things are mass-produced,” O'Hagan said, having art in one's home “is the …

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Collecting art is a 'fabulous journey'

Denver artist Desmond O'Hagan discusses painting, collecting

Posted

“Art is the soul of a home.”

This phrase struck Desmond O'Hagan the first time he heard it.

“In a time when many things are mass-produced,” O'Hagan said, having art in one's home “is the opportunity to own something that is one of a kind.”

O'Hagan, of Denver's Wellshire neighborhood, is a fine arts artist with a primary focus using oils and pastels. He is naturally curious, he said, enjoys visiting art galleries and museums, and loves to travel.

He describes his art as a combination of representational and abstract elements that include, and are inspired by, urban scenes, landscapes, interiors, architecture, figurative and capturing a moment.

Influencers of his paintings include places across the U.S. and Europe, but Denver has always been a favorite of his, O'Hagan said.

“Our downtown has so much character,” he said. “Since much of my art concentrates on urban and interior views, I've always appreciated how Denver has renovated the older buildings and warehouses, which gives the city such unique and historical contexts.”

O'Hagan, 62, moved to Denver in 1980 to study at the former Art Institute of Colorado. After graduating, he landed a career in advertising doing graphic design, but decided to pursue a career in the fine arts — with much support from his wife — in 1986.

Today, his art is in public-and-private collections and museums in the U.S., Europe, Canada, Japan and China. In Denver, these include the Denver Public Library, Robert and Judi Newman Collection and Ballard Spahr LLP, among others.

O'Hagan loves the idea that he creates something that will stand the test of time. But he realizes that the fine arts won't survive without new and young collectors. He suggests that new collectors start locally — learning about local artists through the internet and local media, attending First Friday events and hearing about local artists through word-of-mouth from friends, colleagues and other acquaintances.

“In my experience, and working with collectors of my art, they enjoy the uniqueness of acquiring a one-of-a-kind piece of art, that they connect with for a variety of reasons,” O'Hagan said.

He added that it's hard work to collect art.

“Collecting art is a growing process,” O'Hagan said. “But it's a fabulous journey.”

Q&A with Desmond O'Hagan

In what ways does Denver inspire you as an artist?

Denver is a great place to live for an artist. You have an energized downtown and some of the best mountain and country views. Artists need that kind of positive visual stimulation to grow, regardless of what style or media you work in.

I do believe the Denver community values art. There are many artists in Denver working at perfecting their craft, and the local community attends First Fridays and open studio walks. But there is also plenty of room for more participation.

What do you hope that your art inspires in people?

I hope the scene captures their attention as it did mine. It's very rewarding when artist and viewer connect through a painting.

What do you enjoy most about hosting people in your studio?

That one-on-one connection is very important in showing my art to explain my interests and motivations in creating a specific piece. Face-to-face interaction is more satisfying for both the artist and collector.

Much of it has to do with developing a rapport with the collector while discovering what paintings interest them most among a wide variety of my inventory.

If you were able to provide only one piece of advice to aspiring artists, what would it be?

Stay true to the motivations that initially inspired you to enter this profession. Always paint what interests you most, and seek out the appropriate marketplace.

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