Arts festival flurry |

Arts festival flurry

Wren Wertin
Special to the Daily"Mountain Church"

Call it an art-off. This Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Vail and Avon host dueling art festivals. Both events are traditions both for the artists who come and the visitors who flock to them. The Vail Arts Festival and the Avon Festival of Fine Arts run 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. all three days, and include artisan variety, entertainment, snacks and free admission.

Vail Arts Festival

The Vail Arts Festival is growing. This year, 114 boothes will be set up in LionsHead, and roving street performers will be tooling around in Vail Village. A juried arts festival, one of the requirements of event coordinator Laurie Asmussen is the artists have to come with their art. That means the folks selling the work will more often than not be the artists themselves.

“This is the biggest year we’ve had, in terms of participation,” said Asmussen. “Originally, we were going to split it 50-50 between Vail Village and Lionshead, but there’s such a long-standing tradition of hosting it in Lionshead, we decided to keep the art there.”

Returning favorites include Deborah Carlson, contemporary printmaker, Heather Laurie, fiber artist, David Allen, glass artist and Earl Walker, woodworker. Dave Newman of Somebody Somewhere created the festival’s commemorative poster. The Arizona-based artist painted it during the war with Iraq.

“There are four hearts, with a very interesting use of color,” said Asmussen.

In addition to the artists, both fine and performance, there will be food, food and more food. In another expansion for the festival, many of the Lionshead restaurants will be serving portable edibles.

Avon Festival of Fine Art

The Avon festival is a Thunderbird Artists Festival, meaning all the artists are selected by Judi Combs. This marks Avon’s 10th festival year.

Chapel Square plays host to the festivities, which include artists, performers and food vendors.

Coloradoan Fred Haselmann is the festival’s featured artist. The photographer lives in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, but travels extensively throughout the United States capturing color and light within his lens.

Haselmann has been an artist with Thunderbird Festivals for several years, and has been to Avon six or seven times.

“They’re very good shows,” he said. “They draw people who appreciate good pictures.”

His work is full of contrasting colors – bright sage against red rocks, or a solitary church perched upon a gray hill.

“In photography, what turns me on is color and light,” he said. “That’s what most of my pictures are about, really. They’re full of really bright colors. Ninety-nine percent of photography is being in the right place at the right time.”

Thunderbird Artists come from across the nation. This year alone, Combs received 295 applications from 24 states.

Art festivals

The tradition of art festivals is a long-standing one. They typically offer something for everyone. Not a fan of avant garde glasswork? Meander over to the landscape watercolorist, the jewelry maker, the batik artist.

Ceramics, mixed media, painting, photography, fiber arts, metalworks, drawings, printmaking, woodworking, sculpture – all can be found at the festivals.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at or phone at 949-0555, ext. 618.

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