You can’t be in Vail very long without noticing the influence of Carrie Fell. The artist’s work can be seen on the Seasons building’s east wall in Avon, on a gondola car in Beaver Creek, gracing posters for events like Taste of Vail and Gourmet on Gore and her original works can be found in Vail and Beaver Creek galleries.
Carrie Fell’s artwork has woven its way into the fabric of Vail and beyond. This year, the artist looks back with her latest creation, not a painting or sculpture, but a new book entitled “The Art of Carrie Fell – A Retrospective Review: 1994-2020.”
Fell is a Colorado native whose colorful and creative western art has been seen on the walls of many restaurants, homes, corporate offices, promotional or charitable pieces and more. Her fans are loyal and love her vivid perspectives and insights that shine throughout her work.
Like many people during the pandemic, Fell found herself with more time on her hands and came across many of the writings that accompany her art. Her boyfriend, longtime Vail and Denver caterer Richard Bailey of Taste 5 Catering, told her she should write a book.
“It was almost like the book was already written with all of the material I had found but I needed help putting it together,” Fell said. She enlisted the help of Heather Clancy, who has known Fell since 2005 and is currently the sales manager for Carrie Fell & Company. Another friend, Dana Giddens, helped Fell organize the book. Fell’s niece, Caylynn Abbott, helped her pour over 4,000 images of works Fell had done from the mid 1990s until present day.
“This was a wonderful thing to do during this downtime. It gave me the time to reflect and remember and validate all of the people who helped me get here because it was not just me,” Fell said.
Fell has a lot of gratitude for those in her life who helped her reach the success she finds today. The book is dedicated to her parents. Fell said she grew up in an artistic family with her mother and brother exhibiting artistic talents and her dad being more artistic in a marketing sense. Fell’s father, John Abbott, was a champion drag racer in the National Hot Rod Association. Fell believes she learned a lot about the art of marketing from him.
“My dad did a lot of public appearances and he was great with people. I think I studied him subconsciously because some my behaviors are similar to his actions. It was always very important to him to pay attention to who is there with you and how you make them feel. That’s important to me, also,” Fell said.
Fell’s art definitely elicits a feeling from those who view it. Even though her most famous work is classified as western art, it’s hardly the traditional landscape and leathered and weathered cowboy in her paintings. Her strokes are broad and colorful and emit more of a feeling than an actual scene.
Fell came by the way of doing cowboy art after several odd jobs post-high school and eventually enrolling in design at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, CO. She took a job at Colorado Counties, Inc., a nonprofit that offers assistance to county commissioners, mayors and council members to encourage counties to work together on common issues. It was there that Fell met Eagle County commissioner Bud Gates.
“Bud Gates was one of the coolest guys, and he could command a room, or the aisle would part for him. I think a lot of the spirit of my cowboy art came from guys like him,” Fell said. “In that era in Colorado, if you weren’t in the ski industry or ranching, you were leaving the small towns, towns with so much beauty and history and I just felt I needed to capture that spirit of the cowboy.”
Fell took her works on the road and would do multiple arts shows around the region and in Vail and Beaver Creek. She’s also advertised her works in “Southwest Art” and “Vail and Beaver Creek” magazine.
Fell caught a break when Anita and Jimbo Grisbaum saw her work at one of the shows in the Valley.
“Anita walked up to me and said she was opening up Rollins Gallery in Edwards. She hadn’t even poured the concrete for the floor yet, but she wanted me to be a part of it,” Fell said. “One of my best memories was doing an event with Olympic alpine skiing bronze medalist, Jimmie Heuga, benefitting Jimmie’s Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis.”
Fell then met gallery owner Paul Zueger.
“When Paul walked in and was willing to work with me, I hardly remember the conversation, it was so surreal, that’s when I really felt like I’d become an artist.”
That meeting prompted a long stint at Zueger’s galleries in Vail starting with Gateway Gallery. “Then, director Rayla Kundolf from Zueger’s Masters Gallery got a hold of me and we set the world on fire. It was the go-go-go 90s, people were buying homes and art for those homes and things were good,” Fell said.
Fell eventually opened a gallery of her own in 2010 in Solaris in Vail Village.
“My family all had the entrepreneurial spirit, so I thought I’d give owning my own gallery a try,” Fell said. “I had stars in my eyes and had blue sky thinking, but it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
During this time, Fell had to be not only an artist but also the business person running the gallery. She was also tapped for many charitable projects and was the favored artist for The Taste of Vail, Gourmet on Gore and the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships. Her works were lighting up live auction bids, commissioned works and unique backdrops like a gondola car on Beaver Creek’s Centennial Express and a mural on the Seasons building’s east wall in Avon.
“Everybody was in such a great head space and town was alive, it was an electric two weeks during the Championships,” Fell said. The Carrie Fell Gallery was a prime spot for hosting parties at night overlooking the awards stage in Solaris Plaza. “That made that experience all worth while and it was a great ride to be a part of but I felt it was time to come back to Denver after that.”
Fell still has her working studio in Denver and her artwork is sold locally out of the Gib Singleton Gallery, one of Zueger’s galleries and Horton Fine Art in Beaver Creek.
“After trying to run my own gallery, I’m so grateful to be represented by a gallery. They work so hard for the artists and have to deal with the business side of things so I can go back to create the best art I can,” Fell said.
Fell’s new book was no small feat. The 560-page book is 2 inches thick and weighs 10 pounds. It costs $350.
“It encapsulates what I want you to witness, sort of a third-person journey of how to take something difficult and make it into something better through nature, by being guided by the light and use it to turn circumstances into a lesson on moving forward,” Fell said.
Although this book is literally a work of art in itself, Fell doesn’t want it to lie dormant.
“It’s not supposed to sit on a coffee table, it’s meant to be something you pick up with a glass of wine or a strong cup of coffee and read many times. There are several subliminal messages in the book if you think deep enough,” Fell said.
Fell had hoped to have a huge book release party and see all of her friends and collectors of her art and celebrate this accomplishment and those who helped her get to where she is after two-plus decades, but due to COVID-19, the in-person revelry will have to wait. The book can be purchased locally at Gib Singleton Gallery in Vail and Horton Fine Art in Beaver Creek. Orders can also be placed by contacting the Carrie Fell & Company showroom in Denver by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.