Karen Vance was born in Chicago into the Swartwout family of artists, of six generations. Her upbringing and education; the Art Institute of Chicago, Village Art School with the late Joe Abbrescia, in Skokie, Illinois, Northern Illinois University, Denver Art Student’s League, and numerous studies with many of the finest living painters; Carolyn Anderson, Clyde Aspevig, Scott Christensen, Mark Daily, Quang Ho, David Leffel, Michael Lynch, William Reese, Richard Schmid, Burton Silverman, and Michael Workman, to name a few, brought her to her passion and profession.
Vance’s art career includes 12 years as a graphic artist and the past 23 years creating fine art professionally. Karen’s paintings are in the permanent collections of The Buffalo Bill Historical Museum – Whitney Gallery, The University of Denver, Wells Fargo Bank of Denver, First Interstate Bank of Wyoming and Montana, Winter Park Resort, the Winter Park Arlberg Club, Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort and in notable private collections including, fellow artists; Quang Ho, and Russell Chatham. Vance is a member of the National Arts Club, and California Art Club, a Signature Member of the National Academy of Professional Plein Air Painters, Emeritus Signature Member of Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters, and is a Master Signature Member of American Women Artists and Plein Air Painters of Colorado.
Awards include: Buffalo Bill Cody Art Auction – William E. Weiss Puchase Award, Best Painting Award, and People’s Choice Award; the C.M. Russell Art Auction - People’s Choice Award and Arlene Hooker Fay Memorial Award; Women Artist’s of the West -Award of Excellence, the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters National - Best of Show, People’s Choice and Plein Air Magazine Publisher’s Choice Award; Nomades Del Arte -- Best of Show; the Colorado Governor's Invitational - Best of Show, and awarded a teaching grant from the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Other shows and exhibitions include: Plein Air Painters of America, Catalina Island, CA; National Arts Club, New York, NY; the University of Tulsa and Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, OK; the Bradford Brinton Museum, Big Horn, WY; the Denver History Museum; Hockaday Museum, Kalispell, MT; the Tweed Museum of Art, Duluth, MN; and over 50 Gallery Invitationals and 10 solo shows since 1998.
Karen has had feature articles in Art of the West, Southwest Art, Wildlife Art, Artist‘s, InForm Art, Western Art Collector Magazines and in the books, “Enchanted Isle: The History of Plein Air Painting on Santa Catalina Island” and on the cover of “Landscapes of Colorado”, by Ann Daley of the Denver Art Museum. And “Dust on my Feet, Sun at my Back” by Deborah Chapin. A major collection of Vance’s paintings have recently been installed by Bob and Suzanne Fanch at Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort, 10 miles North of Winter Park, Colorado, where Vance resides.
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