Peeking into the artist life |

Peeking into the artist life

Veronica Whitney

Visitors to the annual Vail Valley Art Studio Tour over the weekend peeked into the studios of 31 local artists like McHugh, who said more than 60 people visited her studio.

In addition to the self-guided tours, the Vail Symposium offered a guided tour over the weekend – both options were free.

“I did very well, I sold 10 paintings,” said McHugh, who has been an artist in Vail for 11 years. Prices for her colorful paintings range from $200 to $2,000.

People doing the tour, organized by the Plaza Gallery in Vail, cruised from Eagle to Vail to Red Cliff visiting the homes of painters, photographers, potters, papermakers, jewelers, quilt and glass makers.

“We’re trying to see everything,” said Connie Herman of Wildridge, looking at Nancy Rondeau’s paintings at her house in Buffehr Creek.

Herman, who by 2 p.m. Sunday had toured eight studios from Eagle to Vail, said she and her husband are building a new house and the tour gave them getting some ideas of what’s available.

“We chose the work we were interested in,” she said. “We particularly liked the stained glass in Eagle.”

The tour, Herman said, also took her to areas she had never been to in the Vail Valley , like Buffehr Creek, in Vail.

“You get to see the artists at work, where they live and they have all been delightful, sharing their techniques and ideas with us,” she said.

Few of Rondeau’s 50 paintings hanging on the walls of her living room had a price tag.

“I never sold my art, I don’t know how to price it,” said Rondeau, who used to teach art and has been painting landscapes of Eagle and Summit counties for nine years. “It’s an education process. I’m not commercial, I paint because I love it,” she said “If you were been paid by the hour, nobody could afford the paintings.”

Finally, Rondeau who said she still hesitates to sell her paintings, agreed to sell, an oil painting, “Red Cliff”, to Bunny and Jim Landis, a couple of Florida who has a house in Cordillera.

“She (Rondeau) is so far my favourite painter and Red Cliff was fabulous,” said Bunny Landis, who visited Red Cliff for the first time since she bought her house in the Vail Valley three years ago.

“I loved the people there and I’m very interested to learn more about them,” she said.

Vail artist Ferne Cohen said it takes her six months to make one fiber evening bag. Cohen, who exhibited her work together with William Pintzow, a photographer, also makes polymer clay necklaces and pins.

“I did pretty well, I sold one bag ($500) several necklaces and two dozen pins,” she said.

This was the first time that Pintzow experienced professional photography. Pintzow, 65, a part-time resident of Vail, who also lives in Florida, has been taking pictures since he was 12 years old. His work in black and white and colour, includes the Colorado landscape, Alaska, Florida’s vegetation and Yosemite.

“It’s good for the ego to see people interested in your work,” said Pintzow, who had sold 15 photographs by noon Sunday.

“Having unknown people walking through my home was a new experience,” he said. “Everybody has been very polite asking if they should take their shoes off.”

Pintzow’s house was Sharon Herman and Arnie Miller’s first stop in the tour.

“We wished we’d started earlier,” said Herman, who’s visiting Vail from Boston. “I’ve done studio tours in Boston and I love them.”

Miller, a Bostonian visiting Vail for the first time, said the Vail Valley is a place where the tourists and the community merge.

“This isn’t a tourist trap,” he said. “I’m trying to get a sense of the people and how the arts community relates to the community of Vail itself and the tourists.”

Pintzow said he was very thankful to Plaza Gallery for organizing the tour.

“We’ve had at least 100 people coming through the house,” he said.

Rondeau said she’s seen local art develop in the Vail Valley in the past years. Mostly because of the persistence of people who’ve been doing it for a while, she added.

“Plaza Gallery is the only thing that feeds the local art scene,” said McHugh, who shows her work mostly in restaurants. “I’m now painting full time. It’s not supporting myself but I needed to create a body of work.”

Ron Levitt, a resident of Florida, who also has a house in Vail, said that Vail rates extremely high for its cultural offerings.

“Every community is known by the extent of its cultural involvement,” he said. “And Vail has a lot to offer to both its residents and tourists.”

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at

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