David Floria Gallery | AspenTimes.com

David Floria Gallery

One of David Floria’s most celebrated, if not quite salable, art shows featured works by famed renegades Hunter S. Thompson and William Burroughs entitled “Two Guys with Guns.”

Thompson’s work was particularly arresting: he would take a large photo or poster of an icon like J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon, or Mickey Mouse, and suspend tiny paint-filled airline liquor bottles on strings above the plywood-mounted image. Then he’d aim a few shotgun blasts at the little bottles, splattering paint and bullet holes everywhere.

“People bought it once in a while,” Floria muses. He had opened his first gallery in 1989 in a log cabin which was fortuitously connected to the notorious Woody Creek Tavern where Thompson and cronies Don Henley, (The Eagles), Jimmy Ibbotson (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) and Don Johnson (Miami Vice) hung out. But the Woody Creek gang were more devoted to partying than to art collecting, and Floria eventually moved the gallery.

A onetime ceramic sculptor and potter himself, Floria had obtained his BFA at CU Boulder and then after nearly a decade as a working artist, had gone back to school for his MFA. He studied art criticism and participated in the curator program, meanwhile financing his education as a consultant buying art for corporations in Denver. After graduation, he was hired in 1982 as curator at the Aspen Art Museum. Six years later, he was operating the Woody Creek gallery, then in 1997 moved to his present in-town location to be closer to the Aspen action.

The gallery handles probably the most contemporary art collection in town, avoiding the splendid mountain landscapes and cowboys-and-Indians motifs in favor of a more hard-edged artistic attitude. The work encompasses a wide range of subject matter, styles, and media, from super realism to total abstraction. Partly, the variety is due to the diversity of the art-seeking Aspen visitor. Floria is well aware that work from his gallery can end up gracing the walls of homes literally anywhere in the world. The common denominator, says he: “We look for artists who have a sense of strength and spirit and a real feeling of heart and soul. It’s kind of an intangible thing.it doesn’t show up on their resume.”

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