Tools for the Creative Life – The Age of Arts: A Look into the Elder Artists of Denver

Our artists are who shape our community; regardless of style, skin color, or AGE. These artists have been in the arts for, in some cases, as long as we have been alive. We’ve brought 4 local artists together to talk about how their art and the way they conduct themselves in the Denver art scene has changed/evolved with the times.


  • Sharon Bond Brown
  • Arlette Lucero
  • Emanuel Martinez
  • Yoshitomo Saito

Moderated by: Alexandrea Pangburn and Ari Shapiro

This workshop will take place online and is free and open to the public. Please register to attend this event and the link will be sent out prior to the workshop.

Tools for the Creative Life is a workshop series aimed at providing creatives with connection, new skills, inspirational capital and tools to craft a healthy creative ecosystem. Presented in partnership by the RiNo Art District, Transforming Creatives, CBCA, and the Creative Integration Initiative.

About the Speakers

Emanuel Martinez

Born in Denver, Colorado in 1947, Emanuel Martinez began his career as an artist at the age of thirteen, when he painted his first mural. His art education includes workshops with world renowned artists and sculptors including David A. Siquieros and Francisco Zuniga. At the age of 20, Emanuel did a major work and two other pieces that are now in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C.

As a muralist, painter and sculptor he occupies an outstanding status among nationally known artists. Since establishing a studio in 1968, Martinez has received international acclaim and prestigious awards for his design capabilities and high standards of workmanship. He enjoys personalizing compositions for clients and doing public works of art for site-specific environments. His work is lively, timeless, yet conveys a sense of serenity. He has been featured in over 300 newspaper/magazine articles and 30 published books, including a book written on his art career entitled: “Emanuel Martinez: A Retrospective”.

Arlette Lucero

I am a professional visual artist in Denver, Colorado. My paintings and sculptures are visual poetic expressions of my emotions, feeling and desires. Using a combination of realism, symbolism and vibrant colors, I try to capture the sensual mystery of my original concept. My pieces are illustration of stories, poems, and personal obsessions. As a woman, I love to paint beautiful women of timeless ages in endless time. They are the Goddesses of many cultures or simple mothers.

Sometimes my painted images are powerful Icons. They are readily recognized as having some well-known significance or embody certain qualities that represent something else of greater significance associated with religious, cultural, or political statements. My favorite example would be “Chicana” It is a symbolic painting representing the unification of diversity within a single woman. She is an American first with cultures of Mexican, American Indian, and Spanish within her spirit and body. She is a warrior, proud of her heritage and free to be all who she is. The tree symbolizes the roots from which her cultures emerge. The Chicana holds her religious spirituality and faith in her hands and in her mind at all times, even as Huitzilopochtli, in the form of the hummingbird, whispers of her Aztec origins.

Other forms of fine art that I do are mask making, sculptures, mixed media, collage, tin, digital art and photography. Sometimes they are whimsical and fun. Sometimes they are contain deeper images to be individually contemplated on.

As a professional artist, I also have extensive experience doing commercial art. I have free-lanced as a Graphic Artist working with many clients making for them web pages, company logos, posters, prints, fliers, postcards, brochures, catalogs, advertisements, magazine covers, CD labels, T-shirt and other souvenir items, art pages, and Christmas cards. My favorite commercial art projects have been illustrating children books. I have three published books and am illustrating two others.

I am one of the lucky artists who get to teach art to children. I have done this through my Art Teacher jobs at Escuela de Guadalupe, Escuela Tlatelolco, Compass Acedemy, ArtStreet, ArtReach,Mizel Museum, Mizel Arts and Culture Center, Voz y Corazon and Journey Through our Heritage, and other organizations through my communities in and around Denver. Working with children is my greatest joy. Currently I am the Education Director for CHAC Chicano Humanities and Arts Council.

I work with a variety of mediums and styles when creating my own artwork for sale in local galleries. I am able to teach even more mediums and styles when working with children. I love to integrate school curriculum into the art projects when at all possible. Many times I am called to make a Mural with elementary school children. The murals are permanent fixtures at the school, group home, or center. Also, on my own, I designed and painted a very large Mural for the Escuela de Guadalupe's library with the title “Compassionate Leadership” with over thirty portraits.

Yoshitomo Saito

Yoshitomo Saito was born in 1958 in Tokyo, Japan. After finishing his liberal arts college work and some professional training in glassblowing, Saito came to the United States to study glass art at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. He then relocated to the Bay Area in 1983 to attend the California College of the Arts in Oakland. At CCA, he studied glass under Marvin Lipofsky and sculpture under Dennis Leon and Linda Fleming. It was during this period that he began using bronze. Saito received his Master of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture with High Distinction in 1987.

Immediately after graduating, Saito began exhibiting his work at some leading contemporary art showcases in San Francisco receiving critical acclaims. Saito won the Visual Artists Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1994. And his bronze sculpture is included in many prestigious collections in the Bay Area such as the M.H. de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and the City of Oakland Museum of California. He also has taught sculpture at the California State University Hayward for a decade. He moved to Colorado in 2006 to pursue the lifestyle of fully engaged independent artist. He has been actively operating his private studio foundry at the Ironton Studios of RiNo Art District in the City of Denver.

Sharon Brown

I have been drawing people since I could hold a crayon. My idyllic childhood was inspired by my psychiatrist father and by my mother and her sisters, all of whom were artists. I grew up surrounded by art and [endless] conversations about people. [and human nature][and their peculiarities][and the peculiar ways they present themselves to the world]

After earning a sociology degree in college, I had to let art take a back seat to jobs in human services and family demands. After a segue into a clarifying job as a gardener at the Denver Botanic Gardens, I returned to art full time at the age of 40. I haven't looked back.

My inspiration comes from many old family photos, the subjects often casual and unposed, people captured mid-sentence. I’m interested in what photographs reveal about a person and what they conceal. More images have come via gifts, dumpster diving, friends’ shoeboxes, and snapshots I take myself.

My preferred media are oil paint and watercolor. I’m still using a German paint box of 36 colors that I got when I was 12 on a family vacation. I am indebted to a small but mighty magnifying glass that enables me to discern details in tiny black and white photographs. I may adopt the images in their entirety, but I often edit for better composition and a less distracting background. Colors are all my choice. Whether I am painting oil on canvas or watercolor on paper, I start by carefully drawing in charcoal or pencil. Then I fill in with layers of paint, ending with the details. Sometimes I have used an acrylic underpainting with oil washes on top, so that colors glow from beneath the surface. I know when a portrait is done when I see the person looking back at me.]I hope that my paintings resonate with viewers, reminding them of familiar times, places, and people in their lives.

Ari Shapiro

Panel Moderator

Founder of Silver Cat Design Art Consultation and Interior Decor, Ari Shapiro has a grassroots passion for art and design. What began as an early talent for drawing and painting manifested into a dream career. She attended San Francisco Art Institute, and graduated from University of Colorado Denver with a Bachelor of Fine Art. During an immersion experience shadowing a Boulder based interior designer, Shapiro swiftly fell in love with the world of interior design. Silver Cat was born soon thereafter. Founded in 2015, she has since had the good fortune to work with some of the country's most talented designers and business developers. Silver Cat Design specializes in art placement for senior living and hospitality environments.

Alexandrea Pangburn

Panel Moderator

Alexandrea Pangburn is the Director of Curation for the RiNo Art District, Founder of Babe Walls, and an established artist here in the Denver area. Alex attended the University of Kentucky and graduated in 2010 with a bachelor’s in Animal Sciences where she draws a lot of inspiration in her artwork. Her artwork is focused mostly on flora + fauna and the education behind local animal/plant species conservation. Alex moved to Denver in 2017 and started working with the RiNo Art District on running the RiNo Made Store until 2019 where she started having more of a curatorial role. She now is running the RiNo Mural Program and helps facilitate, organize, and manage artistic opportunities within the district and Denver as a whole.