In the 1970s, Michelle Courier grew up in a creative, hippie household that movies often seek to capture. With an architect-turned-painter/printmaker father, Courier developed her artistic skills in the third story of their Michigan home, which her father had transformed into an artist studio/playroom. Eventually, she took her talents westward, finding inspiration in the tranquil scenes of the Rocky Mountains and the mesmerizing colors of Lake Tahoe. Today, she owns and curates Westward Gallery on Tennyson Street in Denver, showcasing her own work alongside that of other talented local artists. Attracted by the eye-catching paintings displayed in the gallery’s window, I met with Courier to learn more about her journey as an artist and her inspirations. During our conversation, she shared her thoughts on various aspects of her life and career, painting a vivid picture of her creative world.
Westward Dreams: “I had the best childhood growing up surrounded by a family of artists. My dad, a professional painter, would drive the family out West every year for his art shows in LA, and I would get so excited as I saw the mountains rising up before me. I had been trying to move to Colorado since my childhood, hence the name of the gallery: Westward.”
Heart and Soul: The Captivating Beauty of Lake Tahoe: “Really, my heart is Lake Tahoe. I have been every summer since I was 12 and can’t get enough. There is nothing like that clarity, the granite, the rock, the cold of the water. It was intimidating to paint at first.”
Capturing the Electric Spirit: “My new series is more focused on portraits, which is where I got my start in art. The series focuses on my assistant, who is this total EDM girl. She makes all her costumes and does eccentric makeup for the concerts. She’s a piece of art herself, literally. And I really love EDM, too. I am older, but people love me being there; they give me a thumbs-up or a light-up bracelet. I have never felt so accepted. The whole thing is just an experience—the lasers, the music, the people. It’s alive.”
Embracing Prints: High-Quality Art for Every Budget: “At first, I was opposed to selling prints, but I found this shop that uses archival ink that will never fade and prints on the same canvas I paint on. The prints are really high quality and a great option for someone looking for something more affordable to frame. Where a 36″x36″ painting might go for $3,400, a print would be around $900.”
Curating with Passion: “The other artists I bring into the gallery are totally different styles from my work. But all my artists take a similar tone: happy, saturated colors, and traditional with an edge. I can tell I want them in my gallery if I get goosebumps when I see their work. I think I am actually happier when I sell one of my artists’ works than my own.”
Celebrating Art and Community: “On May 5, I will be debuting my new work and celebrating the return of First Friday. There will be a DJ, all the EDM art, the gummy bear pieces, and part of the proceeds will go toward local teen suicide prevention programs.”