Art mecca of the West |

Art mecca of the West

Cassie Pence
Vail, CO, Colorado
BC Art Show PU 7-29

A quick but discerning stroll through Beaver Creek Village is all it takes to understand why art critics and aficionados from around the world are marking their calendars for the 20th annual Beaver Creek Art Festival.

Held Saturday and Sunday, the festival is one of a kind, with surrounding mountains and wildflower color offering a backdrop to a busy village seemingly brimming over with nearly 200 canvas tents housing art works.

Festival promoter Howard Alan of Howard Alan Events, Ltd., travels to dozens of art festivals throughout the country every year ” including Beaver Creek, which is by far his favorite, he says. What’s different about Beaver Creek, he adds, is that participating artists have to be on-site, adding to the experience. That allows festival-goers to learn exactly what inspired the artist to make a particular piece.”

“There’s always a story behind it,” Alan says.

Of course artists having the talent and reputation to be invited to the Beaver Creek Art Festival are successful enough to forego travel, if they wish. But many of them say meeting admirers face-to-face is welcome human interaction in a life often spent alone in the studio or traveling from festival to festival, and there’s something very special about watching thousands of people walking by, admiring their work.

“And nobody can sell your work like you can,” says contemporary painter Adam Stone.

Being there with his art really pays off, Stone adds, explaining a developer he met at the Beaver Creek Art Festival recently commissioned him to create several signature jazz musician pieces for a new waterfront jazz bar in North Carolina.

It’s the potential, one-on-one experience with collectors ” many who have the wherewithal to purchase, or even commission, valuable works ” that’s led to the shows developing a reputation among the artists themselves. Not only do they have the opportunity to make their own sales, they can garner their own commissions, as well ” very unusual on the national circuit. For that reason, the juried show turns away more applicants than they can accommodate every year.

Potter Marvin Blackmore ” whose Native American-influenced pottery featuring multilayered, intricate hand-etchings performed with a needle is well known, expensive and sought after ” says he travels to a just few events anymore, such as exhibitions at the Smithsonian, the Philadelphia Art Festival and, of course, the Beaver Creek Art Festival, where buyers are “qualified and very educated.”

“At Beaver Creek, I feel the same way the collectors do,” says Blackmore, who works out of his own studio in Telluride. “I feel comfortable.”

While it’s true the Beaver Creek Art Festival draws art connoisseurs with deep pockets, not every work of art is large and expensive. Many modest works in a variety of mediums are available, from the sculpted porcelain and metal jewelry of Cynthia Chuang, as low as $35, to Tom Sullivan’s hand-carved exotic wood pepper grinders, priced around $150.

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