A lifelong resident of Denver, Barbara grew up on South Gaylord Street where her father, an immigrant from the Eastern Europe, had a drugstore that was a social center for the South Garland Street neighborhood. With her parents, Ida and Leo Charney, she lived in an apartment over the drugstore. She graduated from South High School and got a Bachelors in Fine Arts from the University of Denver (DU).
After DU, she taught junior high school briefly. In 1947 she married Dan Spivak, a fellow artist. Early in their marriage, they went with Dan’s brother Eugene and his wife Shirley (also Barbara’s cousin and the person who introduced them) on a road trip to Florida and then by boat to Cuba. An adventure that was much talked about later and fueled their love of travel.
Dan, with Barbara’s support, started the Spivak Art Supply Co. in 1952. Originally located in downtown Denver, it also had locations in the Cherry Creek shopping district and Boulder. “The Store," as they called it, flourished and they were able to travel widely, with far-flung destinations from China to Europe to Israel, from Africa to Alaska. They also enjoyed their time-share in Mazatlan, and in later years their second home in the mountains near Evergreen. In 1985, Dan retired and sold the business.
Barbara was a talented artist who worked in various media including watercolors, oils, ceramics, photography, and printmaking. Her pieces were exhibited in several galleries in the area as well as at the Denver Art Museum. A flattering article was published in the Rocky Mountain News. Her early work chronicled the people around her, while her later work delved into other cultures inspired by their travel as well as the natural environment (animals, plants, geology).
Barbara loved reading, playing bridge and tennis, cooking, sewing, collecting antiques, coffee and chocolate, and most of all spending time with her beloved dogs, friends and family.
She will be remembered as a kind, loving and loyal daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend with a widespread intellectual curiosity that she transformed into beautiful and intriguing visual images.
Join us in celebrating a life well lived!
Graveside service is Monday, 10am, at Mt Nebo Memorial Park.
Service will be live streamed via Feldman Mortuary’s YouTube channel.
Donations in her name to Food Bank of the Rockies.