Mirada showcases distinct artistic visions

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By Sara Miller

Indian Hills has a rich history — it once was the summer hunting ground for the Ute Indians and later served as the summer playground for Colorado’s artists, writers and creative visionaries.

So it seems only fitting that Evergreen native Steve Sonnen and his wife, Jenni, have turned the historic Indian Hills Trading Post into Mirada Fine Art Gallery, a cozy spot that manages to showcase contemporary art with an ambience steeped in tradition.

Upon entering Mirada, visitors immediately feel as though they’ve stepped back in time. The rough-hewn timber exterior carries through to the inside, with exposed beams and an old stone hearth.

“We’ve tried to preserve the historic integrity of the building while creating a space that best showcases the work of our artists,” says Steve Sonnen. The space not only showcases, but complements, the stunning work presented by Mirada’s diverse group of artists.

In the first room, visitors are greeted by the earthy work of Argentina-born artist, Marcela Panasiti. Panasiti, who makes her home in Sedona, Ariz., uses the natural elements of the Southwest to create abstract murals. Panasiti layers her canvases with red, brown and white soil to create textured works that capture the rich colors and the parched environs of her adopted region.

Juxtaposed with Panasiti’s conceptual creations are the whimsical bronze sculptures of Chris Deverill. In one corner, a gluttonous squirrel appears to smile as he surrounds himself with his harvest of acorns. Across the room, a long-eared donkey looks forlornly at the crow perched on his back in a piece aptly titled “Freeride.”

Around each corner waits a new surprise. The Sonnens have gathered an internationally known group of nearly 20 artists. Chinese-born Z.Z. Wei, Russian-born Sergey Cherep and Southwestern artist Pablo Milan are just a few of the award-winning talents whose work graces the walls of Mirada.

“We are excited that many of our artists aren’t represented anywhere else in Colorado,” says Sonnen. “And there’s something for everyone. We have artists like Pablo Milan and Dennis Champlin who have been showing their work for over 25 years. We also have artists like Josiane Childers, who is newer to the scene.”

Childers works in acrylics on canvas as well as painting on various metal and plexiglass sculptures created by her husband, Justin Earl West, who is also represented by Mirada. Although Childers’ works are abstract, her eye-catching use of color draws the viewer in. Childers uses rich combinations of reds, oranges and golds often reminiscent of red-rock country and Southwestern sunsets.

“Mirada” is a Spanish word for “look” or “glance.” One glance around this gallery confirms that the Sonnens have an eye for art. The couple formerly owned Tesoros, a furnishings and home accents store, in the same location. Their goal at Tesoros was to bring handmade, one-of-a-kind finds from throughout the world to our mountain community. The same mission holds true with Mirada — only this time it is focused on the couple’s true passion, art.

“Jenni and I have always collected art for our own home. We love traveling to Santa Fe and discovering new works and artists. We always said, ‘What would happen if we had a gallery with the works of all these artists that we’ve grown to love?’ Mirada was born from that idea,” says Sonnen.

If you go …

Mirada Fine Art Gallery, at 5490 Parmalee Gulch Road in Indian Hills, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. The Sonnens also rent the gallery for events such as wedding rehearsals and corporate retreats. For more information, visit www.miradafineart.com.