Alum won’t reveal secrets to his artwork

The 18th annual Cherry Creek Arts Festival is days away, and Richard Cohen couldn’t be more excited. After a three-year hiatus, the DU alumnus is getting ready to make his 15th appearance at the July 4–6 event.

Approximately 350,000 visitors participate in festivities that feature a select group of visual artists and their work — among them Cohen and his ceramics — as well as performing artists, musical acts and fireworks.

“It’s my homecoming,” Cohen (BFA ’76) says. “I developed there as an artist.”

Cohen, who spent more than two decades in Denver before moving back to the suburbs of Chicago in 1996, took ceramics his second year at DU and found his true medium.

“I could express myself three dimensionally more than two dimensionally … it just came to me,” he says.

After graduating, he kept his ties with DU by assisting the art department in exchange for studio space, and he continued to grow as an artist.

“I wanted to do bright colors, and in the 70s and 80s, everyone was doing stoneware. I had a good background and artist’s intuition to do bright colors myself,” he explains. “I didn’t have to ask; I figured it out myself. No one is doing what I’m doing.”

Cohen focuses mainly on vessels, perfecting his art form throwing on the wheel, as opposed to hand-building pieces. But the secret of his work is in the glaze: his finished pieces look like glass.

“Ceramic artists have secrets they want to keep, just like chefs,” Cohen says.

When he’s not in his own studio, Cohen is likely teaching an adult class or at an after school program, something he’s been doing for more than two years. However, he’s still expanding his art form, as he’s hoping to start new projects, like wall tiles from slates of clay.

“This is what I should be doing,” he says. “I’ve got to keep it going.”

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