The Castle Pines Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of McNeill Fine Art Gallery in Castle Pines in late November. Pictured (center) is artist Katherine McNeill alongside her husband (left) and members of the community.
Article and photos by Joe Gschwendtner
Katherine McNeill’s Gallery had its opening gala in Castle Pines on November 30. Besides enjoying splendid hors d’oeuvres, all were abuzz over the many paintings and sculptures, and having a forum where fine art is exhibited and available. Many of Katherine’s own paintings were inspiring likenesses of Colorado back-country aspens that had everyone in their thrall. Katherine’s almost tortured success is a tribute to her own personal journey as evidenced in her book, “Art by Faith.”
No one is born an artist. With no formal training, Katherine was a content homemaker raising a family with the love of her life, Bob. Yet, suppressed expressive childhood rustlings ran deep, so she loaded up on books and art supplies and began self-teaching. Bob’s career change brought them to Colorado in 1978.
Bob’s feed and tack store struggled mightily. Even so, he honored Katherine’s heart, gifting her art lessons for her birthday. Dr. McCarty, an early “silent” partner, recognized Katherine’s raw talent and commissioned a painting of Pike’s Peak. A gallery owner encouraged more lessons. Then George Peak, a regular customer offered to pay for painting classes and gas for transportation. Choosing Lloyd Thorsten in Denver, Katherine commuted 150 miles every week for a year.
Providentially, another store customer called, offering to buy two paintings on display and commissioned several more. Katherine knew this was her moment. Yet life offered many more moments of faith, symbolically inspiring changes to her style. By now, Katherine knew that there was another hand on her brush.
Tragically, in 2006, she suffered a blood clot after a winter accident. Exhibiting stroke-like incapacities, her family doubted she would ever paint effectively again. During the most difficult moment, Katherine made vows to the Lord to do a portrait if she recovered. Miraculously, after two years she regained full strength and cognitive abilities. Art that now came of her brush was more diverse, including portraits as well as back-country scenes.
Art fairs produced growing success, yet she still considered change to another contemporary style. As if scripted, a benefactor introduced her to “Shepherd’s Art,” painting scripture on trees, an art form practiced by the early western slope sheepherders tending flocks among large aspen groves. Of late, this art form has become her signature specialty.
Serpentine describes Katherine’s life and fortunes. Without question, it was enriched by timely benefactors, sustained by her faith. Drop by the gallery, at 363 Village Square, Suite 115 and see what her silent partners have contributed.