EDWARDS — An unassuming group of local artists paints the most recent backdrop for the resurgence of art creation and education in the Vail Valley. This new iteration of art culture, aptly named the Vail Valley Art Guild, expects explosive growth as it increases its offering of workshops, education, exhibits and group collaboration for art hobbyists and professionals alike, in locations spread all across the valley.
During the late ’70s, Vail hosted one of the largest summer art festivals in the mountains. This festival, a sister organization of the Anderson Ranch Arts Center of Aspen (a nationally recognized visual arts organization) and cosponsored by Colorado Mountain College, was one of the key events for local visual arts culture of the period. The recession of the ’80s caused Vail to lose its connection to Anderson Ranch. The Vail Valley Art Guild hopes to renew the visual arts culture and fervor of the past once again.
The artists of the guild are a diverse group of professional backgrounds and personal demographics. The guild offers membership packages that attract artists of all skill levels, while simultaneously ensuring that even people who simply seek an appreciation of art have a place in the group. With an annual membership fee starting at $25, it’s no surprise that the guild has experienced a surge of rapid growth.
“I’ve always been visual, and I became, even in practicing law, more and more visual. I settled a key case and decided I was going to learn to paint. Little did I know I would be consumed by it — I would forget to eat, forget to turn on the lights,” said Lynn Feiger, head of the Art Guild.
“Art is a way of understanding reality and learning about it,” she said. “You spend 100 hours looking at the same scene or object, and it’s amazing how much different your experience will be about what that scene or object actually is. You learn to see differently the longer you paint. The more you can see … it’s a great thing; Truth is a great thing … in painting and in life decisions — it’s learning to see not what you are supposed to see, but see what actually is.”
Artists and art lovers can enjoy attendance of member programming, which includes educational topics such as photographing artwork, framing artwork, group painting events and group art shows at participating businesses around the valley. Exhibit tours and discussions will also be a part of future programming.
One of the key events for the guild in coming months will be the Share the Scene program. Artists in the group will be invited to a sponsoring business or residence to paint a particular scene or subject. The collaborative nature of these events allows for significant learning, networking among artists and the sharing of ideas, perspectives and techniques. Through these events, the guild also hopes to generate excitement regarding the existing natural beauty of many of the scenes of the area.
“We paint local scenes often, and this seems to attract people who want to have keepsakes related directly to the Vail Valley. There is an interest in art by local artists, both by the artists themselves and by patrons,” said Karen Kalfas, guild vice-chair.
Keeping Art’s Individuality
Although scenery will be an important part of the group programming, the guild founders also emphasize the importance of artistic independence and creation. Artists who have drastically different views and perspectives are invited to share them. In addition, the guild recognizes that differences in mood, medium and perception are all part of the art creation process.
“We may be working on the same painting for five years,” said JoAnn Carhart Levy, former ski clothing buyer and designer, “One day I might say, ok, I want to do a quirky animal, and the next day, an all-encompassing landscape, and the next day, a portrait. You just never know; it all depends on your mood that day.”
The guild aims to create a sustainable culture in which artists can receive business support, critique, opportunity to exhibit and ongoing education for the craft. Artists working in the mediums of oil, acrylic, water colors, mixed media, charcoal, pen and ink, ceramics and even sculpture are invited to join. The guild hopes to expand its acceptance of other mediums in the near future.
Interested artists and art lovers can attend the next membership meeting tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Singletree Community Center in Edwards.
Exhibits for the Vail Valley Art Guild’s artists are expected to continue on a weekly basis throughout March and the spring months. Artists are also encouraged to contact the Vail Valley Art Guild on its website, www.vail valleyartguild.com, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. On March 26, the guild will participate in a gallery tour and discussion at Cogswell Gallery in Vail.
“Art is a way of understanding reality and learning about it. You spend 100 hours looking at the same scene or object and it’s amazing how much different your experience will be about what that scene or object actually is. You learn to see differently the longer you paint.”
Head of the Vail Valley Art Guild