Beaver Creek Art Festival draws a wide range of artists to the Vail Valley, Aug. 6-7 |

Beaver Creek Art Festival draws a wide range of artists to the Vail Valley, Aug. 6-7

Krista Driscoll
Wrap bracelet with raw blue diamonds, driftwood, premium brown leather and a handmade hand-hammered, gold-filled clasp, by Elle Jay Jewelry.
Jim Delutes | Special to the Daily |

If you go …

What: 29th annual Beaver Creek Art Festival

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, and Sunday, Aug. 7.

Where: Beaver Creek Village.

Cost: Admission is free.

More information: Visit

BEAVER CREEK — Jennifer Buchanan, of Keystone, and Lisa Bernal, of Denver, met while both were working at a mental health clinic in Denver. Each had been designing jewelry as a hobby — Buchanan in leather and stone and Bernal in metal — so they combined the elements and began creating pieces for friends.

“And then we discovered driftwood,” Buchanan said. “We wanted to have kind of a centerpiece for the jewelry, and we stumbled along driftwood and that became our focal point for the jewelry.”

Buchanan makes yearly trips to a particular beach in Northern California to collect the wood for the duo’s Elle Jay Jewelry line of wrap bracelets, earrings and necklaces, which will be available for purchase at the 29th annual Beaver Creek Art Festival today and Sunday on Beaver Creek Plaza.

“This year, they actually changed the layout so all the artisans are going to be on one level right down by the ice rink,” Buchanan said. “We love the location, love being there. It’s a great spot to have an art festival. Hopefully the rain will hold off.”

Driftwood jewelry

Each Elle Jay Jewelry piece is unique, combining conflict-free raw diamonds, turquoise from a 5,000-year-old mine in Afghanistan, antiquated leather and hand-hammered metal clasps with the individual driftwood pieces.

“We don’t do anything to the wood,” Buchanan said. “The pieces come as is. They are tumbled in the ocean, and they are super smooth. Pinecones are a really unique, popular piece, and we found them on the beach and they’re tumbled in the ocean until they are super soft and super smooth, and we’ll incorporate those into the necklace designs.”

The designs are built around the driftwood, with each stick determining the form and function of the piece.

“Some pieces are just perfect for the wrap bracelets because of their size and their shape. Some lends itself more to a necklace design,” Buchanan said. “We have our range of designs, and we’re always expanding them because the wood inspires us to make a totally different design.

“We just sit with the piece and it sort of tells us what it wants to be and we’ll create around that.”

Palette knife and panels

Los Angeles artist Stephen Schubert will also be among the more than 250 artists represented at this year’s festival.

Painting on elevated birch panels with acrylic paint using mostly a palette knife, Schubert translates his world into “personal statements” in the form of abstracts. Although he has classic skills, having painted everything from still life to koi fish, his current abstract work has completely captured his imagination.

“Science is discovering how abstracts positively affect the brain, strengthening neural connections as we view them … so I feel like I’m getting a little healing along the way,” he said.

Grabbing a piece of bubble wrap and slathering it with a combination of red, yellow and orange paint, Schubert has created a piece just for the Beaver Creek show. A 6-foot-by-6-foot diptych, it’s titled “Aspens by the Lake II.” Up to 15 layers of paint go down with alternating layers of resin so the paint appears to float above the layers below.

“Everyone has a different response to abstracts, where they invite exploration to see what recognizable images are coming out at you … and you can’t be wrong in what you see,” Schubert said.

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