Rebecca DiDomenico lives art. Her house — an unusual rounded-roof building in North Boulder — is where she makes art, displays art and the home itself is an architectural art piece.
DiDomenico is one of Boulder’s most prominent artists. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve likely experienced her creative eye. Her house, which is named the Swoon Art House, is impossible to miss on North Broadway (4295 Broadway). And her artwork has been on display in many of Colorado’s most reputable museums, including the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, although she shows her work around the world. She even has art in the demilitarization zone between North and South Korea, as a tool for social change.
Her main gallery is the Robischon Art Gallery in Denver.
DiDomenico designed a large piece of art on display at the new Embassy Suites by Hilton Boulder, 2601 Canyon Blvd. It is a remarkable, 22-foot-long wall piece made out of butterfly wings and mica. The wings and/or bits of trash are sandwiched between the pieces of mica and sewn together to make a large tapestry.
Hotels are upping their art game, she says. It’s increasingly more common to see fine art, especially locally made, in hotels.
But DiDomenico has made local waves far beyond the hotel lobby. While she also sketches and has painted in the past, she’s well-known for her larger-than-life 3D pieces. One of the most impressive pieces she made, titled “Pellucid,” was a fantastical, full-size cave, lined with 60,000 pieces of mica and butterfly wings or trash.
The colorful cave, complete with artistic expressions of stalagmites, stalactites and pools of water, required a semi-truck to move to and from the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.
Today, this surreal cave lives in the basement of her house.
Also in her house: unusual drawings sewn onto paper and then framed with a hole in the middle, the excess thread spilling out of the hole and onto the floor or up to the ceiling. There are four of these pieces, each symbolizing an element.
DiDomenico has always been an artist, she says.
“I was one of those kids born knowing what I wanted to do,” she says. “I loved to be by myself and make things with my hands. And maybe I was a little bit weird. I didn’t fit in with the regular crowd.”
She grew up in California with an art-loving mother who exposed her to all kinds of art. Even when she didn’t appreciate it as a kid, DiDomenico says the seeds of artistic inspiration and her mom’s comments about them planted into her mind as artistic roots. Today, DiDomenico still remembers the things her mom told her that shaped her.
You don’t have to like it. It’s not about whether you like it or not. Art is not a judgment thing. Did it stretch you, grow you as a person? Did it change your consciousness?
You think you could do that? Yeah? Well, you didn’t think of it.
“It was so simple but so true. In my little 6-year-old brain, something just went click. And it changed my life,” DiDomenico says. “It’s not about judgment. It’s about following your soul.”
Making art to please others is not authentic, true work, she says. It’s compromised.
“As a female artist, it’s even more important because we are taught to always accommodate others,” she says. “That doesn’t make visionary art. It makes mediocre, expected art.”
Since then, DiDomenico’s journey has been exciting. She went to school in Nepal but graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in English lit. She has also shown work at the San Francisco Craft & Folk Art Museum; Denver Art Museum; and Artspace, to name a few.
Today, DiDomenico is working on several more of the butterfly-mica pieces. One is headed to Red Rock Community College in Golden. There’s another big project in Colorado brewing, she says, but she can’t talk about it yet.
“If I get it, it will keep me busy for two years,” she says. “It’s very exciting.”
Really, she says she’s always working on a million things at once, even installing her work in private residences. One family actually bought a piece of one of her previous exhibitions at BMOCA, “Flatlander,” a large intricate installation of pieces of hundreds of maps.
Recently, she says her kids asked her how many pieces of art she has made over the years and she had no idea. She tried to catalog it and came up with more than 3,000. The problem: How do you draw the line — between the smaller, artistic pieces in one large whole? Between what is art and what is life? Does the design of her house count? How about her garden?
“There are many things you can do in an artful way. Raising children could be an art form,” she says. “Maybe it has to do with intention and quality.”