Mountain artists on Open Studio Tour

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Barbara Lawlor
Nederland

Visiting artists in their studios and speaking with them, face to face, is an opportunity for mountain residents to make friends, to find treasures of talent they might not have otherwise known about. Displaying one’s work in one’s studio environment is more than sharing their talent, it is welcoming strangers into one’s world of creating.

Last Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1 and 2, was the first weekend of the Boulder Open Studio Tours, mountain artists, and just in case, you missed it, you have a second chance to participate in a once-a-year cultural event.

Some of the artists are well-known in the area but have many new pieces that have not been displayed. Some of the artists are new to the area, revealing work that is also new. Some of the visitors are artists checking out who and what is up and coming in their neighborhood.

The second week of studio touring will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 8 and 9.

One of the area’s favorite oil artists is Marie Channer who lives on Valley View in Big Springs. Her specialty is her detailed capturing of horse action, the movement of a mane, the dust flying from hooves, moonlight outlining the graceful curves of an equine neck and back.

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Channer brings her art to many shows but nothing is as impressive, as breathtaking, as seeing the large, original canvases, set up on her deck, the sun highlighting the dramatic contrast of light and dark.

Channer is also renowned for her dancers and the flash of color, the bend of the body that leaves an image in the mind of the viewer. Hot cider, cookies and other snacks are offered to the guests.

The other mountain artists are spread out in the private nooks and crannies of Magnolia Road. Who would guess, looking at the dirt driveways and guardian pine trees, of the sophistication and grandeur of the artwork sequestered in serene nests of industry.

Photographer David Bahr has been a long-time participant in the Open Studio Tour. This year he showcases artwork from his intimate botanicals and forest fire etudes, emphasizing the vivid colors and unique close ups of nature. “We all share a primal fascination with wildfire, and my work artwork emphasizes the hypnotic beauty, rather than the the destruction, focusing on mesmerizing patters, liee-like behavior and unexpected subtleties of towering flames.”

Bahr will also feature crowd favorites from his 2015 exhibitions of the “Lawnmower Subversive” series, a collection of wild mountain grass photographs with surprising colors and shapes that are unaltered and just as I see them through the camera’s lens. As part of the “subversive” fun, he has  huge six-foot prints of wild grass to play with our sense of scale.   

Leah Simmons and her husband Scott DeCapio are a team of ceramic artists.

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Scott first shapes each piece on a potter’s wheel, and then Leah carves designs into the clay. Their work is functional as well as decorative.

Leah says she is trying to work bigger, making cairns, or totem, of painted rocks and clay rocks she formed. She said the project was harder than she thought because the real painted rocks were super hard and she had to order special diamond bits to make a hole.

Phylleri Ball of the Steam Valley Fiber Farm is a newcomer to the area but not to her art. This is her first time on the tour and she will be a favorite site for families with kids, as she introduces her Angora goats and Leicester sheep.

For 17 years Phylleri raised 100 head of Angora Goats and Border Leicester sheep in Northern Pennsylvania. “I processed their organically grown wool and Mohair into luscious yarn, roving, hats and socks. I’ve spent 35 years playing with dye pots, spinning, knitting, crocheting and weaving. My love for the fiber arts follows a new thread as I dedicate more time to hand weaving on my floor looms. My passion for the sheep and goats that produced the wool and Mohair, is now expressed through creating rugs and garments from their fiber and yarn.”

She moved to Colorado and found property with two houses side by side so she could be close to her son and his family.She plans to join other shows and fairs and put her luscious yarn on display.

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Candace Newlove hosted a bunch of tea parties in her barn/attic studio over the weekend, spotlighting her jewelry, earring and bracelets that visitors were compelled to try on Candace has worked in the arts for one 30 years, making custom designed and hand made jewelry accented with gold and precious stones. Birthstone bracelets and necklaces are in popular demand and she is happy make one of a kind pieces for her customers.

The Open Studio Tour is open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

To obtain an online map of the studios with addresses, go to openstudios.org.

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.