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Denver Arts & Venues pivots to virtual exhibits

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Posted at 5:13 PM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-15 20:49:01-04

DENVER -- Denver Arts & Venues is finding a way to rebound from the pandemic through virtual exhibits.

They opened three new virtual exhibits and are extending dates for some summer exhibitions at the McNicols Building.

This comes as the organization announced they were closing most venues starting in October through the rest of the year and furloughing employees due to the pandemic.

"Denver Arts & Venues is a special revenue fund which means a lot of our programs are dependent on a successful Red Rocks Season and performing arts season," Shanna Shelby the curator for Denver Arts & Venues said.

One of the new virtual exhibits was started by a Denver doctor and is called "Women of Color on the Front Lines." It features the portraits of dozens of doctors from across the nation and right here in Colorado.

"The face of medicine is very diverse. Those of us in medicine know that, but not everyone does when they think of a stereotypical doctor," Dr. Sarah Rowan an infectious disease physician at Denver Health said.

Rowan said she reached out to a group of doctors who are mothers after not seeing diverse images of women in health care being featured in art and media. She asked for their photos which were then turned into portraits by several artists.

"I got about 150 pictures as a reply, much more than I expected," Dr. Rowan said.

Dr. Rowan completed a portrait of Dr. Abigail Lara.

Lara said it was overwhelming seeing herself how patients see her at their bedside.

"Wow this is raw this is real it was exactly what I am doing in that moment I have my respirator on, my PPE on and I am taking care of patients," Dr. Lara a pulmonary physician at the University of Colorado said.

Lara said the portrait also had an emotional impact because of the realities of COVID-19.

"We are six months into this pandemic and a very simple exercise of people wearing their masks, washing their hands and keeping physical distance would decrease the impact," Dr. Lara said.

Dr. Rowan hopes the exhibit inspires young women of color to seek careers in medicine.

"Providers of color, there is some data that there are better outcomes for communities when their providers come from different backgrounds," Dr. Rowan said.

Rowan is expanding to include photos of other health care workers not just physicians.

The virtual exhibit is free on Denver Arts & Venues website.

There you will also find two other new virtual exhibits. "Listen" features the audio stories of men who have spent more than 20 years in prison. "Kintsugi" is the Japanese art of repairing broken bowls with seals of gold.

Although the virtual experience is much different than in person, it gives viewers more time with each gallery.

"Pre-COVID you might go to a museum and only spend a few seconds in front of a great work of art but post-COVID you might really slow down," Shelby said.