Pictured here: “Edges on Blue” at Mono Lake, Calif.
If you go…
What: Art on the Rockies, a three-day art festival benefitting the Vail Valley Arts League, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the local arts community.
Where: Colorado Mountain College, Edwards campus
When: Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Free to attend, with opportunities to buy art, bid in a silent auction, and enjoy drinks and food.
For more info, see the official Art on the Rockies website.
Experience Art on the Rockies. Art on the Rockies is not your typical sidewalk art fair, nor is it your hushed-gallery atmosphere.
Fittingly for a mountain festival in the summer, Art on the Rockies boasts a lively outdoor environment. Almost the entire festival is held outdoors at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards, and shoppers can enjoy beer and food from the grill throughout the afternoon. The festival kicks off with free champagne and apps during the evening art walk on Friday, giving locals a preview of the artists on hand. On Saturday afternoon, browse through the booths while tapping your foot to live music from the band N.O.T.U.S., and on Sunday, check out the end of the silent art auction featuring more than 80 items donated by festival artists to benefit the Vail Valley Arts League.
You won’t have to coerce the kids to come either, with the Children’s Art Discovery Tent, a new addition to the festival. On Saturday, kids can help local artist Britten create an outdoor mural, or doodle on the sidewalk next to chalk artist Dwayne Glapion, who was featured at the Denver Chalk Art Festival and will creating a 12-by-12-foot piece over the two days of the event. Kids can also complete a “bug’s life” craft from the Walking Mountain Nature Center, participate in a weaving project, or paint on canvas at the activity tent. All kids events are free.
The weekend is designed to appeal to curious browsers and art aficionados alike, organizer Polly Petruso says.
“Plus, it’s art at all prices,” says Petruso.
While there will be one-of-a-kind pieces for sale, casual shoppers can also find photographic prints by Denver artist Bob Coller Jewett starting at $25, pewter-cast serving items from Thomas Leiblein starting at $60, or a fashionable bike skirt from Gnome Designs for $45.
The festival will bring 110 artists of across 10 different art forms this weekend, from textile workers to photographers to potters. There will be artists from all over the country as well as from the Vail area, all ready to chat about their work and show you their pieces. From among the wide range of artistic minds, here’s a taste of the art you can check out this weekend.
Still-life oil painter
Phoenix-based artist Richard Hall’s paintings, at first glance, might look like photographs. Specializing in still life, he creates incredibly detailed, realistic and whimsical pieces, drawing from years of experience that started during art college in his native England.
Hall spent years traveling with different art festivals, doing black and white pen-and-ink drawings, before working with a publishing company. But publishing work left him wanting more, and a heart attack scare in 2006 made him realize he wanted to pursue other kinds of art.
“I decided I wanted to do my own thing, and you start to realize you’re running out of time,” Hall says. “For many years as a child, I played with acrylics and played with acrylics in my bedroom. I was interested in exploring oil paints.”
Hall’s still-life creations are anything but static or boring – his props often relate to each other and tell a story.
“I can almost set up a theater, where the pieces relate to each other,” Hall says. “I have a series of pieces with toy trucks, and one has a pile of fruit in it, or where they’re hanging. It’s about putting objects together that you normally wouldn’t put together. It makes people do a double take.”
Hall scours antique shops and thrift stores for potential props, then sets them up with the ideal lighting in his studio. It beats a live sitting, where conditions could change, or photographs, where the lighting may not ring true, he says.
“I like to think of them as characters and stories sitting on the shelves waiting to be put together,” Hall says.
If you’ve spent any amount of time in local coffee shops and restaurants, you’ve probably seen Steve Chinn’s work. The Avon-based photographer has his work – images of on-mountain sports, landscapes and more from his international travels – displayed around Eagle County. What catches the eye are the rich colors and simplicity of the shots.
“Most people who see my work say I have a unique eye, a unique point of view,” Chinn says. “I keep things pretty simple and natural. I don’t try and use a lot of Photoshop, even though that’s a lot of how the industry is going. I still don’t try to do too much and let the image speak for itself.”
Originally from Pueblo, Chinn grew up in an artistic family with a photographer father. He had never considered it as a profession until he began traveling as a ski and tennis instructor. After stints in New Zealand and Australia, he developed the film he’d taken, and the shop asked what publication he was shooting for.
The experience made him think.
“I never expected to do it (for a living), but over time with my travels, I found I was shooting more and more, and it crept into my way,” Chinn says.
After a brief time in graphics, Chinn decided to pursue photography full time. He teaches beginner photography classes at CMC, and in past years, he’s also been a presence at local farmers markets.
Julia Watkins, an East Coast artist, has been everything from an international model to architect, and these days she devotes her efforts to her paintings. Her sunny works incorporate a number of mediums, including metal, paint and fired resin. Her style is reminiscent of Van Gogh, if Van Gogh were a yoga instructor. The result is an image – of monks walking, a tree swaying, or a couple dancing – hidden in a dynamic swirl of color. The style, called “energism,” is all Watkins’ own.
“I would say that my paintings describe the energy of the universe and how we’re all connected,” Watkins says of the philosophy behind energism. “I was studying tai chi at the time, and I had a dream – more of an out-of-body experience or a vision. I entered a space that was made up of these flowing patterns. I didn’t have a body, but was part of the pattern. I was happy, peaceful and surrounded by beauty. The painting I did to represent the experience was my first painting (in that style).”
Watkins landed in the Vail area during a trip to visit friends in the early ’90s, and she fell in love with the mountains.
“I needed to get away from New York and I discovered that I’m definitely a mountain girl,” she says.
Take a peek in her Eagle workshop, or catch her at the festival this weekend.