Art tour a spectacular trip

gil-studio-art-rhinio-monster Barbara Lawlor
Gilpin County

Last Saturday and Sunday, beauty was found not just in the grand glow of changing aspen leaves, but in local artists’ homes, from one corner of Gilpin County to the other.

It was like taking a tour inside a painting to get from studio to studio.

The fifth annual Gilpin County Art Studio Tour was held on both days, a chance to visit the studios of 16 artists who had their work on display and for sale.

From candle makers to beaded jewelry to metal sculpture to painters, photographers and jewelers, the artists on the tour are proud of what they create and look forward to sharing their talent with neighbors, friends and complete strangers in their home setting. The love of art is meant to be shared.

Les Barstow makes his living in computer technology, but he feeds his heart with nature photography. He began taking photographs with an Instamatic camera in a geology class out West. He says he had taken great pictures before but not as great as the ones he took out west. He took photographs and printed them, beginning his collection in 2003.

When he entered his work, “Holiness in Eden,” for the first time in the Gilpin County Arts Association Show, he won. Since then he has shown his work a few times a year. This is the first time he has been on the studio tour.


His photos include a cathedral rock in Bryce Canyon. He said he couldn’t wait a week to get the shot he wanted, but he could go back year after year, waiting for the right light to appear.

“You have to know where to go when things are,” he says.

A large print of a flock of native Colorado blue Columbines is his best seller and he says former Senator Jeannie Nicholson has a print of the flowers hanging in her senate office.

A few blocks away, as the crow flies, Heather Carr and Dana Fiddler, the Gilpin County Artists in Residence this past summer, share a studio. Both women are self-taught graphic illustrators who show their work at wildlife conventions or shows.

Dana says she attended the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design and now makes as much money with her art as she does at her day job. Her work in progress was an illustration commissioned for the author of a science fiction fantasy book series.

It was their first time on the tour.

At the Gilpin County Recreation Center, the Gilpin Clay Studio displayed student art, featuring vases, bowls and plates by Sahara McCormick.


The 2016 tour was a success, with more participating artists than previous years and timed perfectly to allow visitors to also enjoy Colorado’s best art show of the year: the annual leaf show.

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.