Grand County visual artists form coalition; welcome others |

Grand County visual artists form coalition; welcome others

by Cyndi McCoy
Grand County, Colorado

Like the primary colors on a painters’ palette, Grand County artists are mixing it up to further promote cultural activity in the area.

Connection and communication, education, promotion, and creation ” these goals are just the beginning of a new visual artist coalition called ART out of Thin Air.

The effort is the brainchild of Lisa Tarr and Patty Alander. Tarr, children’s book illustrator and Alander, multi-media artist, have been discussing the idea of some form of artist networking.

“We wanted to get artists together and others in the art community more often,” Alander said.

The two attended a Creative Economy seminar partly sponsored by Grand County Business Economic Development and found kindred spirits in Jan Leone, Web designer, and glass artist April Lang, as well as a “wealth of help” in BEDA and its executive director, Becky McBride.

The four became founding members of the professional artist collaboration, along with painter Donna Lyons. In order to gain exposure for the growing artistic endeavors of county citizens, emerging and well-known, they have developed a mission “to increase visibility, vitality and economic growth for visual artists.”

The group is working to become a non-profit organization for artists and patrons “dedicated to creating a sustainable art community in Grand County. Through this empowerment, we will strive to become the voice of leadership for the visual arts in Grand County.”

They have had “a very positive response” so far with more than 30 people in attendance at the group’s second meeting last week. Artists from the west end of the county, the only area represented lightly at the first meetings, are especially encouraged to join.

While Tarr, Leone and McBride work to formulate a board, other members will be organizing upcoming events and activities. Several ideas include hosting successful artist speakers and demonstrations, creating an online gallery with links and artist directory for members, and juried and members-only exhibits.

The group is also encouraging artists to fill the walls when the new Grand Arts Center opens in Grand Lake. The art would be for sale with a small commission for the GAC. Whether that dream, an effort of the Grand Arts Council, comes available this holiday season as planned or a little later down the line as funding is reached, ART out of Thin Air is “ready to move ahead.”

Grand Lake Art Gallery owners Liza and Jim Cervenka have graciously set up a “Buy Holiday Gifts Local” event Nov. 29 and 30. They’ll donate 40 percent of the sales of local artists’ work in the gallery sold those days to be donated to the coalition.

Another event the coalition is especially proud to help promote is a Granby Banner Art Contest and Auction. Local artists, including children ages 8 and older, may submit artwork and winning entries best representing life in Grand County will be transferred onto town banners for display. The original artwork and banners will then be auctioned off at a formal affair early next year.

The coalition also is helping promote several local classes, including a BEDA “Art Means Business” workshop in the beginning of the new year.

ART out of Thin Air is open to any interested artist and meets next at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 4. For more information, e-mail

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