For more than two decades, Ana Weir has enriched the Boulder art scene with a surplus of original artwork from creators residing far beyond the Front Range. She once ran an art center on her Cherryvale Road property in Boulder, now she operates Ana’s art gallery on Spruce Street.
The brightly lit space – just steps from Pearl Street Mall – contains a rotating selection of artwork by renowned and emerging talent from Africa, the Caribbean and Cuba.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Weir, from the Caribbean island of Roatán. “All these artists come from another part of the world.”
Rather than typical Flatiron images, visitors to Ana’s Art Gallery will delight in oil paintings depicting palm trees, harbors and the topography of the tropics. From African carvings adorned with beads and shells and tribal masks to jewelry from Cameroon and intriguing mixed media pieces, there is a wealth of exotic treasures to be found.
“I love conservation, it’s my passion,” Weir said. “The art that is here is totally different. It’s about other cultures. It’s about how artists from other cultures paint. This is his day, his landscape.
Although Weir works part-time as a registered nurse, it’s her art curation that provides a much-appreciated balance and sanity break.
“Art helps me be happier in my regular, mundane work,” Weir said. “The most electrifying thing is to open the gallery and see the colors.”
Weir has always enjoyed art, and on her international travels she often returned home to Boulder with other unique pieces to spice up her home.
Weir’s journey from healthcare to art curator began when she met artist Armando Torres in the Caribbean decades ago.
“He then asked me to bring his art to America,” Weir said. “I agreed. While I was hanging the art, it was selling.
She first hung Torres’ art in a Cuban cafe in Boulder on Arapahoe Road. She eventually got her art into other galleries.
“I started to really market it,” Weir said. “He’s in the books. He is in Paris. He is everywhere.
Eventually word spread and Weir was introduced to others in the international community who were looking to get their work placed in American galleries.
To this day, Torres’ work still hangs in Ana’s art gallery. His detailed paintings are dreamlike, beautifully showing a somewhat familiar yet so whimsical world.
In his painting “Havana Surreal”, a winged angel rests on a park bench while a couple reclines in an airbed that floats among the clouds. Thumbnails of a whimsical apartment building provide insight into the lives of tenants.
In its well-appointed gallery, people will find a large mask like those originating from the Fang tribe – found in Equatorial Guinea, northern Gabon and southern Cameroon. The eye-catching piece, with its flat nose, served as a muse for Picasso and Matisse.
“I took many art classes in art history to learn about the old masters,” Weir said. “I like to look at the artists I curate and see who they are influenced by, if they have anything resembling Picasso, Chagall or Van Gogh.”
The luminous work of Noa Sotolongo, an artist from eastern Cuba, is in Ana’s art gallery.
“What I love most about creating is being able to capture what I see on the canvas and having the freedom to recreate what has been created or create something different and new,” Sotolongo said.
In “Beach House with Palm Trees,” Sotolongo captures the beauty of the shore so exquisitely that viewers can almost hear the crashing waves.
In addition to beautiful landscapes, Sotolongo also brings joy to the canvas with its detailed depictions of faces.
“Right now my biggest passion is portraits,” Sotolongo said. “That’s what takes up most of my time right now. I want to be able to hone my skills as a portrait artist. I think it’s a debt I owe to myself since I graduated a few years ago.
Sotolongo doesn’t have to look for muses.
“As an artist, I am inspired by everything around me, from the dim light that enters through a window, the sunset in a beautiful landscape, the few lights that reflect the figures in a still life and even the perfection or plasticity of a face,” Sotolongo said.
Sontolongo has worked with Weir for just over 15 years.
“It’s truly spectacular to work with her, she has the artist’s eye needed to understand and appreciate a work of art,” Sontolongo said. “She is always very consistent and very professional in her work, and that makes me very confident in her and her wise suggestions.”
While much of Ana’s art gallery work is bright and uplifting, there are also pieces that call for deep reflection. “A Plea for Our Planet” by Jorge Luis Vinent incorporates newspaper clippings with a depiction of a man holding a sloth.
“What inspires me the most to create are social issues, what human beings experience day to day in a world so diverse and full of complex situations,” Vinent said. “We artists are responsible for showing in our works the reflection of the reality we live in.”
Cuban-born Vinent showed incredible potential early on when at the age of 7 his painting of Cuban Taino aborigines was selected for an exhibition.
“Working with Ana (Weir) was the biggest thing that happened to me as an artist,” Vinent said. “It has been more than 20 years of constant work. Together we have done many wonderful artistic projects for which I am forever grateful. She is like my mother. I thank her for her advice, her great knowledge of the market and the art world.
While Weir finds significant fulfillment in running her gallery, she wants to enrich the experience by hosting future events with some of the creatives whose work fills the wall space.
Weir is considering which artists she wants to bring directly to Boulder to share some of their experience and stories with new collectors.
“I want to bring the artists and do artist talks,” Weir said. “I want to honor them.”
It currently features fine art from 23 creatives and is open to possibly bringing a few Boulder-based artists into the mix.
“Artists are some of the most grateful and joyful people out there, just to see their reaction to how people react to their art is great to see,” Weir said. “You can feel the gratitude.”
Ana’s art gallery also has a well-stocked back room where the beauty of the artwork continues with more paintings and a wall of vibrant masks.
“This art opens one’s curiosity to positive things, beautiful things, beautiful paintings, beautiful cultures, rather than bad news,” Weir said. “It’s good news.”
Saturday, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Weir will welcome people to its new space for light snacks, cocktails and new inventory.
“Art tells the story of each of us,” Weir said. “It’s something new. Something curious.
1100 Spruce Street, Suite 101, Boulder
Open from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Monday