Boulder is a muse. It’s effortless to plan an inspiring, artsy outing here. When it comes to high-quality, curated art, Boulder’s got some incredible galleries. Here’s a look at some of the local galleries that make Boulder such an incredible arts hub.
During the coronavirus pandemic, many galleries have limited hours or are open by appointment only, so be sure to call ahead if you want to check them out in person.
Art + Soul Gallery
1505 Pearl St., Boulder
This is America’s coolest art gallery.
No, really. InStore Magazine crowned Art + Soul Gallery one of the nation’s coolest art galleries.
It’s definitely one of Boulder’s coolest — bringing together some of the world’s best art and jewelry. It embodies everything that makes Boulder so special: creativity, class, originality, quality and friendly service. When visiting Boulder, add this to the top of your shopping list.
Art + Soul is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Two years ago, this Boulder gem moved from its long-time spot near 16th and Pearl streets to its current space, about half the size (now 1,450 square feet) right off the walking mall across from the parking garage. The change was driven in part by the rising costs of running a business in Boulder, but also in response to a new direction for Art + Soul.
“Over the years, we developed a niche for designer jewelry and became known for alternative bridal,” says founder Debbie Klein. “The gallery evolved in a different direction than the original intention.”
The fresh face of Art + Soul focuses around more than 20 nationally and internationally known jewelry designers, set to the tone of one solo select fine artist that changes every six to eight weeks.
“One month it might be abstract or edgy and then the next it might be more romantic florals,” Klein says. “Every time we do a different show, it changes the entire vibe and feeling of the gallery.”
This makes Art + Soul feel like a new gallery every time you return; you never know what to expect.
The jewelry selection is always evolving, too, Klein says. Art + Soul features about 10 staple designers, but they regularly release new seasonal collections. The others are some of the top jewelry designers in the world right now, Klein says.
“I was just in New York and Tucson and came back with six different designers I’m dying to bring into the gallery between now and the end of the year in bridal and one-of-a-kind pieces,” she says. “Every day I discover new designers. The hardest part is waiting to present it to the community.”
Expect special events this fall to celebrate Art + Soul’s big birthday. Also new this year is a service called Designlab, where clients can work directly with designers to collaborate on unique pieces. For example, a couple recently came in with a raw diamond of their own with personal meaning, Klein says. They picked their favorite designer and certain elements of his work, like the setting and texture of the band. He created a personalized sketch and wax casting of their vision and ultimately created a ring that no one else will ever have.
“It’s a unique opportunity to be involved with the design process of internationally known designers, and it’s really fun,” Klein says. “The client’s able to put their stamp on it, their own flourish into it, and everything comes out a little differently.”
The best way to experience Art + Soul is to work with a member of the sales staff, Klein says. They know the designers and all about their work: new techniques, old techniques and nontraditional ideas. For example, one designer does castings of ancient Greek and Roman coins. Each has a story: where it came from, where and how it was found, what it symbolizes.
“These are all part of the beauty of the piece,” Klein says.
Everything in Art + Soul is handmade; nothing is made by machine.
Klein opened Art + Soul in 2000, in an atmosphere that seamlessly blends creativity with sophistication. The store on East Pearl has a long list of awards backing up how outstanding it is. It always seems to be racking up another “best gallery” award. Pay it a visit when you’re downtown and you’ll see why.
Dairy Arts Center
2590 Walnut St., Boulder
The Dairy Arts Center is a central point for tons of art in Boulder. It’s Boulder’s biggest multidisciplinary art center. This building, formerly a cow dairy, houses 12 different art organizations. It features multiple galleries, a movie theater, several stages, classrooms, a lobby with a bar and more. Find everything from ballet classes to lectures to stand-up comedy here.
Its visual arts program spans four galleries and highlights rotating local and international artists (even sometimes local students). Admission to the galleries is free every day. The Dairy also offers art workshops and lectures for people of all ages.
The dairy (for cow-related purposes) stopped operating in the late ‘80s, when local artists began using it for art events and shows. The Dairy, as it is now, officially started in 1992. Today, the Dairy offers about 250,000 arts experiences per year, and classes for about 2,000 music and dance students. The Dairy spans 42,000 square feet.
Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
1750 13th St., Boulder
The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art is an important art destination in Colorado. It was one of the state’s very first contemporary art galleries, founded in the early ’70s. BMOCA, as it’s called, attracts about 30,000 visitors annually.
This museum focuses on (you guessed it) contemporary art. The visual art exhibitions that feature rotating local and international artists are the star here, but the museum also offers performances, workshops, tours and more (the museum works with more than 70 local organizations to offer programs). At least 60 percent of BMoCA’s exhibitions feature local artists. The museum draws about 47,000 visitors a year.
The museum was founded in 1972 by local artists. Today, it offers about 500 programs annually across seven counties.
1116 Pearl St., Boulder
The SmithKlein Gallery is a fun visit, and not just because it’s located on the Pearl Street Mall. This fine art gallery is a Boulder art leader, around since the ’80s, and you’ll find all kinds of creativity here: jewelry, glass, paintings and large sculptures.
Browse the 2,800-square-feet of high-quality art and don’t hesitate to chat with the friendly staff, who can tell you all about the artists. Feel inspired? Take a piece home with you as a meaningful memento of your time in town.
Another thing that makes SmithKlein special to Boulder is that it’s family-owned. It was opened by Deborah SmithKlein and is now run by her son, Nathan Klein, and his wife, Ann Klein. He was just 4 when the gallery opened, so he was raised around some of the finest art around. In the beginning, the gallery was small. But it attracted major collectors, which sparked quick growth. And the interesting mixture of styles and the quality of the art has kept it thriving.
Other Boulder County Galleries
- Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery, 1421 Pearl St.
- Rembrandt Yard Art Gallery & Events Center, 1301 Spruce St.
- Ana’s Art Gallery, 958 Cherryvale Road
- University of Colorado Art Museum, 1085 18th St.
- Boulder Creative Collective, 2500 47th St.
- Mary Williams Fine Arts, 5311 Western Ave., Unit 112
- 15th Street Gallery, 1708 15th St.
- Wonder Wonder, 1685 29th St.
- Art Source International, 1237 Pearl St.
- Bohemia, 4919 Broadway, Unit 7
- Confluence Arts, 2344 Pearl St.
- Kennedy Studio Art, 2810 Wilderness Place, Unit A/B
- Phil Lewis Art, 2034 Pearl St. Unit 102
- R Gallery, 2027 Broadway
- Shankar Gallery, 1840 Violet Ave.
- Seidel City, 3205 Longhorn Road
- Art Work Space, 2810 Wilderness Place (more than 30 artists’ studios)
- Lael Gallery and Studios, 1025 Rosewood Ave., Unit 108
- Elizabeth Black Art, 4340 13th St.
- Sally Eckert Fine Art, 1620 Lee Hill Drive, Unit 7
- Osmosis Art and Architecture, 290 Second Ave.
- Alloy Fine Art Gallery, 402 S. Public Road
- pARTiculars, 401 S. Public Road, Unit 1
- City of Longmont Museum, 400 Quail Road
- Firehouse Art Center, 667 Fourth Ave.
- Rabbit Brush Gallery, 7504 Hygiene Road
- Russell Coburn Gallery, 700 Tenacity Drive, Unit 102
- The Walnut Gallery, 364 Main St.
- Colorado Nature Gallery, 1541 Elmhurst Drive, Unit 101
- Glass Tipi Gallery, 55 Utica St.