We had the good fortune of connecting with Penney Bidwell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Penney, we’d love to hear what makes you happy.
I am happiest when I am actively engaging in the creative process. I try to find the art in every day activities. From waking up in the morning and putting on an outfit with accessories to finding a way to combine random ingredients and spices into an evening meal, there are plenty of opportunities for creating outside of the studio. I strive to get into my studio each day. The act of creating artwork makes me happy. I approach my sculpting without any formal plan and puzzle my way through problems as they arise. Taking a piece of clay and creating a figure with a story is exciting and gives me insight into my subconscious. Along with daily studio time I enjoy following other artists on social media and searching the internet for their stories and images. I spend probably too much time on Instagram but I find inspiration and creativity there. Travel makes me happy and feeds my creativity.I have taken several travel/art workshops and the combination of travel and art is particularly exciting. I often take inspiration from other cultures and places. Recently I have been exploring Day of the Dead themes in my artwork. This is a direct response to my travels in Oaxaca, Mexico for Dia De Los Muertos. Creating is what makes me happy and I try to incorporate that into everyday life and vacations.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a figurative sculptor who works predominately in ceramics and am mostly self-taught. Working intuitively, my artwork is a direct reflection of my subconscious. Not always understanding the meaning behind my work, I trust in the creative process that what I am creating holds value. When I create something from a deep and authentic place, people connect with it. On a subconscious level my work evokes something internal and relatable within viewers. Some find the work frightening and others find it whimsical. I value both responses. Even a negative response evokes an internal reaction. I am most proud of trusting in my artistic process. Because my artwork comes from a personal space, I often feel vulnerable putting it out in public. Initially any rejection felt personal. However, over the years I’ve gained confidence and realized that rejection is just part of being an artist. I believe my success as an artist is due to hard work and networking, connecting with other artists, gallerists, and collectors. Most of my opportunities have come from the relationships that I’ve built. I am not shy about reaching out and asking for help or opportunities and l this has been vital to my success.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
As an artist, whenever I travel I am sure to check out the local art museums and galleries. In Denver, I love the Denver Art Museum and the Contemporary Art Museum in particular. I recommend touring the galleries on Santa Fe Drive or in RiNo and, if possible, attending them on First Friday. I love thrifting and hanging out on South Broadway Street. There are all kinds of thrift stores. While there be sure to stop for an ice cream at Sweet Action. They have some really exciting and unusual flavors. I live near Cherry Creek North and love to hit the sidewalk sale in July for some bargains or the Cherry Creek Arts Festival for some great art. One of our favorite restaurants in the neighborhood is Barolo Grill. I’m not really into the outdoors (I’m embarrassed to say that living here.) However, we have some of the best hiking and outdoor activities here. In the summer we enjoy tubing in Boulder. Another fun activity that I enjoy doing with out of town guests is visiting local factories. I love the Hammonds Candy Factory tour in Denver as well as the Celestial Seasonings Tea tour in Boulder. We have many craft beers and spirits here as well that offer tours.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Although I’ve loved creating art since I was a child, I did not have the confidence to pursue art as a career. Several years ago, I realized a deeper ambition resided in the arts so I decided to seek out some instruction and inspiration. I chose the Art Students League of Denver because they had quality art instructors and a beautiful space to create. My first class was an introduction to sculpture with Rik Sargent. Rik is a charismatic instructor. His encouragement gave me the confidence to show my artwork in public. He shared his tent space at the Summer Art Market with his students and even invited me to participate at a show in his art gallery (my first gallery show!!)
Personal photo credit Meg Reul