Thanks to Leadville local Ben Dallas, more art is now spicing up Harrison Avenue. Part workplace, part gallery, B.A. Dallas Studio occupies the avenue’s historic American National Bank Building.
“I had to up my game a little bit,” Dallas said of the gallery space which features large west-facing windows, high ceilings and shiny hardwood floors. Though the artist has occupied a variety of studios in Cloud City over the last decade, Dallas said it was time for more space and an enhanced buyer experience.
The studio will allow Dallas, who usually paints large canvases in thematic series, to show series as a whole before breaking them apart for different buyers.
Though the art in B.A. Dallas Studio is always changing, visitors are likely to encounter heavy brush lines, desert animals, vibrant colors and cowboy hats, all of which fall under Dallas’ self-coined “Dirty Modern West” aesthetic.
“‘The Dirty Modern West’ is an amalgamation of international ideas repackaged and sold back to Americans as authentic,” Dallas said.
The artist is also inspired by the new art that can arise from decay. “Decay can be beautiful,” Dallas said of the deteriorating alleys of Western cityscapes and the abandoned tourist traps lining Route 66 now covered in layers of graffiti.
When Dallas opened the studio in June, his series “Wendigo Psychosis” lined the bank building’s walls. Only a few pieces from the series, which features a cigarette-smoking rabbit and majestic buffalo, remain in Leadville as private buyers quickly snatched them up.
“Broken Heart Journal,” another “Dirty Modern West” series Dallas is close to completing, will soon be on display before heading to Austin, Texas.
A bar top replica of the Red Cliff Bridge, part of Dallas’ “functional art” series, sits in the middle of the studio, while graffiti-covered fish peek out the windows.
The artist also hopes to bring outside exhibitions to Leadville -- series by artists who explore similar Western themes in their painting and photography.
“What I’m always excited about is the next piece I’m painting,” Dallas said. “That’s where the energy is.”