Bleesz: Support local artists with Vail Valley Art Guild (column) |

Bleesz: Support local artists with Vail Valley Art Guild (column)

Raymond A. Bleesz
Vail Valley Art Guild
This is a portrait of Eziquel Zevallos, a Peruvian sheepherder.
Mike Holtby | Special to the Daily

Fine art photography is alive and well here in the Vail Valley, including local work that is overlooked by the galleries of Vail and Beaver Creek. The general public is not overtly cognizant of local art by artists such as painters, glass, metal, fabric craftsmen and photographers. However, there are ardent supporters of local art, and a thank you goes out to them.

The Vail Valley Art Guild and Vail Valley Art Guild Photographers are comprised of local artists and photographers, a nonprofit organization. There is a history of significant accomplishments in Vail Valley Art Guild’s brief existence. Grants have been provided to further the guild’s aims. Membership and art sales drive the economic cylinders of the guild as well as sponsorship. There are two galleries, one in Minturn and one in Eagle. Both communities are enthusiastically receptive. The two groups also work with libraries in the valley to display local art on a rotating basis, and there is a working partnership with Colorado Mountain College in Edwards.

Board members of the guild are prominent individuals who are dedicated to promoting local art. The board consists of academic, business, education, lifestyle and legal professionals.

The mission of the guild is to foster an artistic community, create exhibition and gallery opportunities for local artists, sponsoring and participating in art workshops, support art education for our youth and underprivileged, and build awareness of the artistic talent in Eagle County.

The purchase of photographs is done because one “likes” or “appreciates” what the photo “says.” The marketing aspect should be secondary. A well-made photograph expresses feeling; it conveys ideas or is thought provoking. It also can convey solitude and tranquility. A good photograph emanates from the photographer’s soul. There should be an element of intellectual association or attachment to the photograph, perhaps a memory or a catalyst. Photographic imagery does not have to have a big name or price point associated with it. Local photographic art is a bargain.

The Vail Valley Art Guild welcomes membership, sponsorship, sales and attendance at its monthly exhibitions. Be in the know, be a guild supporter and support the local arts.

Mike Holtby is a guild member from Denver. He is a former physiotherapist and commercial photographer who has followed his own vision with extensive travels to African and Asia documenting the people there. His photographic concept is “one planet, one people.” He will be going to Uganda in July. His work is predominantly in saturated colors. He incorporates video with his still imagery. He recently gave a presentation during the Denver Month of Photography on this subject. Holtby was recently here in the valley broadening his perspective with the guild — attending an organized ranch shoot and finding personal time and subject matter at this photographer’s suggestion.

Raymond A. Bleesz is a fine art photographer and a member of the Colorado Photographic Arts Center since 1976. He has exhibited primarily in Denver galleries and is a student as well as a teacher of the history and aesthetics of fine art photography. Bleesz was recently selected to participate in a masters photographic workshop in France with 11 other international photographers. For more information, visit

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