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The Red Cliff Studio Tour

Caramie SchnellVail, CO, Colorado
AE Lin Janson-Will 2 KA 8-1-07
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Go ahead, scan the books on the shelf, peer out the window beyond the easel and flip through the canvases leaning in the corner. Thats the beauty of the Red Cliff Studio tour, slated for Saturday and Sunday in the countys low-key corner. The two-day event marks the 10th anniversary of the tour, and to celebrate, 10 artists will open their private creative spaces to the public. Vail resident Charlyn Canada has traveled up winding Highway 24 to the eccentric town tucked between red quartzite cliffs for a handful of tours over the years, she said.Red Cliff is such an attractive town thats kept its historical character. Its fun to be in that environment and the artists are all so hospitable, they have cookies and tea; its just such a lovely event.Canada doesnt just show for the snacks, either. Over the years shes bought paintings from Joan Norris, Barb Bomier and Sydney Summers. All three artists will participate in this years tour.I like to have pieces of art produced by people I consider friends, Canada said. I try to support local talent whenever I can. Why go far afield when you have all this talent in your backyard?The studio tour started as a county-wide event 10 years ago, said Bomier, an oil painter known for her paintings of old rusty trucks. The county art tour lasted a few years until the organizer called it quits. Norris, Bomier and Summers got together shortly after and decided to not only take the tour over, but make it Red Cliff-centric. We said, well, weve had art events up here before anyway lets just do our own thing, Bomier said.Nearly 250 people attended the last county studio tour but the artists werent sure what to expect for the first Red Cliff event.As soon as we did it on our own, we were totally overwhelmed, Bomier said. I bet we had 500 people the whole weekend. It was so crowded that I had some people that bought five paintings and forgot to take one, I forgot to charge someone for one (painting). It was total chaos.Since then, the tour has remained a popular late August art event, drawing visitors from the Vail Valley as well as the Front Range, Bomier said.

This is Brooke Burgees first year participating in the studio tour. Burgee rents a room in the old school house on Pine Street where she creates her bright acrylic paintings. The space is significantly cheaper than Burgee could find anywhere else in the valley and the opportunity to participate in the studio tour was an added bonus, she said. Participation in the tour is only open to residents and people who rent studio space in Red Cliff.Though some artists cringe at the thought of strangers in their studio, Burgee thrives on it.When you visit the studio, youre invited into the personal space of artist. Its really quite personal. Visitors have a unique opportunity to see what inspires the artist and motivates their work. They get a better explanation as to who the artist is and how theyre reflected in the art that they create.Eagle-Vail residents Dean and Linda Wolz trek to Red Cliff every year for the studio tour, Dean said. As a frustrated artist himself, Dean said supporting local artists is a priority. The couples owns work by four of the artists on this years tour, he said.Theyre really a talented group, they do some wonderful things. Everyones art evolves to higher levels every year, Dean said. With the exception of one stop, you can walk to each studio on the tour.Its a really neat little community, Wolz said. Its an enclave and theres lots of ecclectic people up there. We go in and see who has the best snackerdoodles and have a good time. There have always been some really neat people and we really do think that they should be successful.

Though Marjorie Westermann doesnt technically live in Red Cliff, (her home and pottery studio is 11 miles south of town on Highway 24) shes participated in the tour from the beginning, she said.We put it on so people have the opportunity to see how artists work. its all for the community. I dont do it for the money last year I didnt make any, she said, explaining how rain kept the number of visitors down.I do (the tour) because the community needs to be aware there is an art community. Your life is so much more enhanced when you have art from people you know that live down your street, hanging on your walls. I have art from most everyone thats been at the studio tour. If I see something I like, I dont hesitate to go in debt to buy art, and I probably should. But whats more imporant a beautiful painting or food? Id rather have the art; art enhances your life.Arts & Entertainment Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.


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