Art exhibit / Fraser: Artist dedicates exhibit to ‘higher power,’ family, friends |

Art exhibit / Fraser: Artist dedicates exhibit to ‘higher power,’ family, friends

Cyndi McCoy
Sky-Hi Daily News
Fraser, Colorado

If it weren’t for the support of several people in her life, Laura Barnhardt says there’s no telling what she would be doing now.

The artist’s upcoming art show pays homage to those people “who have made a difference in my life, my personal growth and well-being.”

Barnhardt, who completed alcohol rehabilitation in July 2007 with a renewed life purpose, lists them in a formal dedication for the show. They are those who helped her through the difficult time, encouraged her back into her drawings and paintings, and talked her into the upcoming art exhibit.

Top on the list is Janet Stokes, a counselor Barnhardt met while at Parker Valley Hope treatment center. “She inspired my destiny,” Barnhardt said, and brought “back to life my creative edge.”

To celebrate her one-year sobriety, Barnhardt created a second painting of Jesus for Stokes as a gift. The original, which hung in Stokes’ office, had been “a bit rough” and was Stokes’ suggestion to get Barnhardt back into art while she was enrolled in the intensive inpatient rehab program.

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When Barnhardt took the project on, art had been absent from her life for almost 30 years. Her associate’s degree in liberal arts from Colorado Mountain College and her bachelor of arts degree from Metro State had gone by the wayside.

This second painting of Jesus she called her version of “the higher power,” and just like that “art was back and so was my life.” Barnhardt was inspired to start new drawings and she gathered up her “forgotten” work from various family members (some were even underneath her house, she said).

The art exhibit, her first, includes more than 20 pieces, four of them new. They span pencil drawings (her favorite), as well as watercolor and acrylic paintings. Sizes start at 8×10 and she likes “to go big” for the paintings.

Barnhardt has been eagerly organizing the event for the past eight months and already hopes she’ll be able to do another show next year.

“It’s a good feeling to be where I am right now,” she said.

Other people Barnhardt thanks are mom Patricia Romero, her 11-year-old daughter Alex, Jack DiCola “for his straightforwardness” in advising her to get help, Jim Holahan “for his compassion,” unofficial chauffeur Amy Raegner, who helped Barnhardt keep her snow removal clientele when she couldn’t drive; “caring neighbor” Motor Coulson, chiropractor and friend Betsy Jones, who helped Barnhardt “adjust to a positive mind and body;” as well as several friends who also helped Barnhardt prepare for the show: Dennis and Fran Finnigan, “for listening to my ideas and sharing their wisdom;” and Patty Madison and Deb Lucero, “for their professionalism and making me look good on paper.”

Barnhardt met many of them after she moved to Winter Park in 1981, when she came to be a ski bum. An accident which left her “a blue-collar worker with no (working) ACL” and the devastation of “little things here and there” led to drinking, three DUIs, and near death when her liver almost stopped functioning.

Colorado West Mental Health counselor Kathy Georgic, whom Barnhardt also thanks, made her “a believer of blessings in disguise.” Now sober with “no regrets” and inspiration renewed, the artist is excited about what life has in store for her.

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