Blue painterly background with images of artists from the ASLD commumnity

Stories behind the artists:

Members of the ASLD community share their stories and why #ArtMatters to them.

At ASLD, we believe everyone has a story to share. This Artist Stories project started out as a way to share with our community members the immense impact that ASLD has had on the lives of artists, be they faculty, students, volunteers, board members, etc. Gathering these stories at the end of the challenging year that was 2020 turned out to be a balm for our spirits. It reminded us why art matters, why ASLD matters, and reoriented us toward our goal of creating art experiences that are accessible to all.


We also realized, as we gathered these stories, that we wanted this project to live beyond our year-end fundraising campaign. So we’ve archived the original stories here, and will add more over time. After all, one of the most magical truths about these stories is that they are happening every day in the studios and Zoom rooms of ASLD. You, our community of art lovers, are making ASLD history all the time.


That history matters immensely to us – so we’re collecting your stories here. We hope reading them will bring you the same sense of joy, accomplishment, and community pride that we feel knowing we’re in such good company.


Want to share your story? Email to be featured.

Featured Artists

Photo of a Celeste Ortega wearing a gray shirt and smiling

Celeste Ortega, Student

“There is a community of artists. People are kind and non-judgmental. I like the relaxed and natural feel where people can just be themselves.”

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Barb Hinnenkamp headshot

Barb Hinnenkamp, Student

“The epiphany for me was his saying one day as he looked over his shoulder at me and said ‘Barb, why don’t you paint just for the joy of it?’ What a concept!  I keep that in mind every time I approach my canvas.”  

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Adriana Rondón-Rivero sits in front of a wall of mirrors as part of performance piece

Adriana Rondón-Rivero, Youth Program Faculty

“Working at the ASLD has taught me the important role that art has to make changes for the good of the community, in my case the immigrant and Latino community. Also it has helped me to understand and accept the responsibility that I have as a role model for the Latino and immigrant community in Denver which is an honor for me”

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Benu Amun-Ra

Benu Amun-Ra, Student and Parent of Quinn

“Taking the classes improved my art skills tremendously! It also introduced me to local AND foreign artists through their visiting artist program. I was exposed to different mediums of art and networking with the other artists in the community. It is a valuable forum!”

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Deborah Jang during an Art in Prison workshop

Deborah Jang, Mixed Media Faculty

“I’ve also participated as a faculty member and have especially valued ASLD’s commitment to community engagement teaching opportunities (in non-pandemic times): the Art in Prison program at the women’s detention center in Aurora, at the libraries through the PLAZA program, with seniors at Barney Ford Heights in Five Points, and with veterans through the River Deep program.”

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Photo of Doug Dawson

Doug Dawson

“The league was intended to be a place were master artists could share their knowledge, skill and craft.  Academic degrees don’t matter.  Teachers are sought who have mastered their art and who could pass that knowledge on to others.”

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Photo of Emeka Cook

Emeka Cook

“With so much division in the world today, it’s wonderful to come together and be as one in mind and spirit with all regarding everyone’s love of art at ASLD.”

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Bea DiRienzo smiles and holds up her artwork

FloraJane & Beatrice DiRienzo, Parent and Student

“As a child we appreciated how ASLD helped guide the kids through a weeklong class focused on a similar theme, building in time for exploration, skill development and social emotional connection. We are looking forward to more classes so Bea’s artistry can grow! We have been looking for a creative outlet for her and ASLD feels like home to us!”

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Photo of Gerry Kim

Gerry Kim

“I had shaped a life that didn’t involve creating any art.  So, after a very long hiatus from doing anything creative, I turned to the Art Students League of Denver in 2013.”

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Photo of Harry Utter

Harry Utter

“I love coming to the print studio in our old school house.  It has so much character, with the high ceilings, big windows, and great natural light.”

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Photo of Holly-Kai Hurd

Holly-Kai Hurd

“I never stated specifically what I wanted to do here beyond teaching, but I’ve always felt our relationship is a little magic because the things they’ve approached me about being involved in have always been things that are exactly my THING.”

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Photo of Kalliopi Monoyios

Kalliopi Monoyios

“Over the years, I’ve taken short courses with Martha Russo, Chris Perez, Jennifer Ghormly, and Beth Cavener which were very informative and inspiring. I’ve used tips I learned from each of these talented artists in my work and I’m grateful for their generosity of spirit..”

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Photo of Kenneth Brewer with his artwork

Kenneth Brewer, Student

“ASLD has allowed me to explore art in many different ways.  Not only has it taught me to draw and paint, it has given me the opportunity to grow at my own pace. “

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Photo of Kim Harrell

Kim Harrell, Jewelry Faculty

“ASLD has made me a better teacher. I have become more aware of my skills and process and how to communicate these things in a way that is easily understood. I love what I do and have great passion for it. Working at ASLD gives me an opportunity to share it.”

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Photo of Lorenzo Chavez painting

Lorenzo Chavez, Painting Faculty

“In addition to inspiring classes, events, exhibitions, meeting artist friends, and now as a teacher of Landscape Painting, it is the inspiring people that all have a love and passion for the arts.”

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Photo of Mami Yamamoto

Mami Yamamoto, Student and Printroom Monitor

” [The] very first class that I took certainly gave me motivation and encouragement to continue printmaking.  Additionally, since I do not have my own etching press at home, the accessibility to the open studio has tremendously helped me to create my work throughout the year..”

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Photo of Mandi Quinn standing next to her artwork

Mandi Quinn, Student and Faculty

” I’m so grateful for the community that ASLD has built.  Being able to share skills, ideas and stories with artistic peers is something I’ll never take for granted, especially emerging from quarantine.”

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Photo of Mark Friday

Mark Friday, Printmaking & Assemblage Faculty

” Since art making is generally a solitary experience, it is great to have a facility like ASLD where an art community exists.  Over the years, I have gotten to know, and become friends with students, faculty, and staff members.”

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Photo of Rita Vali holding mugs

Rita Vali, Ceramics Faculty

“I’ve attended ASLD’s Summer art market for over 15 years.  I also took ceramic workshops as a student.  I just love everything about ASLD.. the facility, the staff. All my experiences motivated me to become a faculty member.”

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Photo of Timothy Standring

Timothy Standring, Student

” I was hesitant to sign up for online learning, but after doing so, found the sessions to be informative beyond expectations. The instructors are patient and responsive to all students regardless of their level of proficiency.”

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Photo of Victoria Eubanks

Victoria Eubanks, Encaustic Faculty & Former Faculty Board Member

“I like that there is art instruction available for all levels in lots of mediums. If someone wants to take a class just for fun this is the place, if someone is a serious artist, honing skills, this is the place. For someone who wants to connect with other creatives this is a great place.”

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