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Colorado high school students art on display at Carbondale Clay Center

Perspectives: High School Invitational

The current exhibition at Carbondale Clay Center is a rarity, featuring artists from outside the Carbondale Clay Center network, many showcasing their work for the first time.

“In my time, this is the first time we have done an exterior show,” said Matt Eames the center’s studio director. “We are focusing on the RE 1 School District. Basalt High School art teacher Denae Statzer brought the idea to us about a year ago.”

The front gallery of Carbondale Clay Center is currently filled with shelves of whimsical and colorful high school ceramics. Eames curated all the art and critiqued the student work from Basalt High School, Colorado Rocky Mountain School, and Yampah Mountain High School.

“It was very informal. I talked with students throughout the process, went to each school to familiarize students with idea of the show,” said Eames. “How would they know what an exhibition in, or what a clay center does. This was their first time with the experience, and it was wonderful.”

The result was over two dozen local teenagers showcasing their work for the first time. 

Presley Vaitonis, a student at Rocky Mountain High School, has “Green Fish” in the show.

Three of the ceramic works on display for the high school ceramics show at Carbondale Clay Center.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

“I got good at persevering because in ceramics you’re never really in control. The clay is always in charge, and if it’s too wet, it decides it doesn’t want it to do what you want it to do. The same if it’s dry it likes to crack or if there’s too much air inside,” said Vaitonis. “You have to accept that there will be times you come in with high expectations and there is a big chance that something goes wrong or just doesn’t work.”

Delayney Prosser, senior at Basalt High School, had a rough high school experience. She used art to express her creativity and emotion in visual art pieces, while being in a small, isolated valley where it was hard to relate to others. 

During her junior year, Prosser exhaustively tried to prepare for graduation and figure out what her life would look like out of high school. Through these classes, she was able to see what her passions were and began to see art as something that gave her life meaning. 

Ceramic works on display for the high school ceramics show at Carbondale Clay Center.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

Her ceramic creation, “Sunday Morning,” is a pancake mound delicately glazed to mimic syrup dripping down the stack.

Ceramic Artist Residency Program

The 2023-24 residency application is open and applications are due April 10 by 5 p.m.

According to the center’s website, the residency “is designed to encourage the creative, intellectual and personal growth of emerging and established ceramic artists. This program is an ideal opportunity for a developing artist who is looking for a place to pursue focused work while gaining teaching experience and valuable technical skills.” 

Current Resident Artist Gabby Gawreluk at work in the studio. Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times.

The selections are based on the quality and artistic merit of the work, and the diversity of the prospective group in terms of commitment, work, background and stage of career development. There are up to three residents at a time. 

Ceramic artist residencies range from one to two years, starting Sept. 1 and ending Aug. 31 each year.

Summer Camps

Summer Camps will be revealed to the family membership for signup on April 4, and then to the public the following week. 

Popular Carbondale Clay Center going strong at 26 years

Want a shelf space at Carbondale Clay Center? Good luck. The wait might be three years for one of the full 26 shelves that cost $125 a month. And no spots are left in the spring ceramic sessions or independent study.

Why is the center so popular? It’s the only year-round dedicated clay studio in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Opened it 1997 and going 26 years strong, the non-profit art enclave houses two resident artists in addition to dozens of adult and children classes. 

Shelf space at Carbondale Clay Center.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

One of the very last stops as you head out of Carbondale on Main Street is this conglomerate of small buildings, an Airstream trailer, and tent in the warmer months.

Current High School Ceramics Exhibition at Carbondale Clay Studio.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

The main studio has a rotating gallery of ceramic work in front, dozens of shelving units lined with ceramics in all different phases throughout the space, bench space, eight potter’s wheels, and two kiln rooms — one with four electric kilns and one dedicated to the Geil gas kiln, used for firing cone 10-glazed work. 

Up to 200 students a year of all ages participate in ceramic instruction and studio time.

After-school classes are held in five- to six-week sessions and start with hand-building for ages 5 and older and wheel throwing for ages 9 up from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Family clay and play is offered on select weekends, offering a two-hour hand-building class with guided instruction.

“For me, kids clay is an incredible medium to demonstrate the intersection between art, nature and science. Clay can be a functional art, but also art for exhibition,” said Emma Martin, the program manager at the center.

Carbondale Clay Center studio manager Matt Eames.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

Adult classes are divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced sessions that run seven to eight weeks. They are offered once a week from 9:30 a.m. to noon, and 6 to 8:30 p.m. 

Kate McRaith, a former Glenwood Springs High School teacher, has found peace and tranquility at the Carbondale Clay Center. On a break between wheel classes, she was working on her plate formation. 

“This is certainly my happy place,” she said. “I’m a lifelong learner and enjoy having this space to be creative and continue art education.”

Mary Lamb, Carbondale Clay Center student, working on the potter’s wheel.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

Mary Lamb, another veteran educator and Carbondale resident, was all smiles on the snowy spring day as she was trying to improve her wheel skills. 

“I’m in here to get better. I started last summer, and next session will be my fourth series. This is a great outlet for me, and a little less stressful than education,” said Lamb. 

“There is a rotating roster of teachers, studio members and residents in the area that teach our classes,” Martin said. “It’s so fun to see studio members who took kids classes here growing up in the Valley come back and with their own children.” 

Matt Eames is one of the center’s most storied employees. He applied for the studio resident technician position and began on Aug. 5, 2013. He hasn’t left. Now, nearly a decade later, he’s the studio manager.

“My role has evolved so much over the last 10 years,” he said. “We keep adding more positions, more programs and gallery exhibitions. We have quadrupled the programs since I started.”

One building isn’t enough for the Carbondale Clay Center, it turned out.

The orange building has two artists in residence. Artists apply and spend one to two years with the center studying, teaching, creating and showcasing. Gabby Gawreluk and Brian Chen are the current resident artists through this summer.

Resident artist Gabby Gawreluk working with the kiln.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

“My work is a compilation of childhood dreams and personal escapism,” Chen said. “I use the idea of form following function, in the context of biology, architecture and design, as a guideline to create. I enjoy making forms that pull the viewer’s eye with a sense of familiarity, awe and curiosity. The goal of my studio practice is to tap into a childlike wonder about something that could have been or will become.”

“I create functional and sculptural ceramics that is wheel thrown as well as constructed from slabs of clay. My work is featured in both juried and invitational shows in galleries around the nation,” said Gawreluk.

There is also a purple building with two studio spaces occupied by long-term Carbondale Clay artists.

The ArtStream at Carbondale Clay Center.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

A silver Airstream called the ArtStream Nomadic Gallery is a full retail gallery created by local ceramic artist Alleghany Meadows. Inside, Carbondale Clay Center showcases local and national ceramic artist pieces for sale.

Inside the ArtStream retail space at Carbondale Clay Center.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

There are varying levels of membership with perks such as early class and summer registration, studio time and other benefits.

“Some community families get the membership just to be able to sign up for the summer ceramic camps. They are that popular,” said Martin. 

The need for clay work expands beyond the confines of the ceramic enclave.

“We work with other non-profits such as Challenge Aspen and different recovery groups in the area,” said Martin.

“I teach an off-site class at Sopris Lodge for their memory care residents,” she said. “We have also been co-hosting free, one-off workshops with Aspen Strong to promote ceramics as a form of mental fitness.”

Michael Wein: The Grass is Greener

It’s often said people come to Aspen for the winter, but stay for summer. In artist Michael Wein’s case, the opposite is true. Wein, a Houston born, Aspen-based artist, was lucky enough to spend his summers here while growing up, and it deeply influenced his life and his work.

“Spending a significant time in Aspen makes you realize that nature and becoming one with it is imperative. You can’t take nature for granted,” he said.

His show, “The Grass is Greener” at the One Hour Ahead Gallery, is a testament to that philosophy. His work is a kaleidoscope of color and texture that plays tricks on the eyes. He is self-taught and revels in not being bound by a traditional art background.

‘Blue Iris.’ Fluid acrylic, latex, spray paint on canvas.
Alexis Ahrling

Wein describes his work as an “eclectic, post-abstract style that marries an unconventional and complicated layered acrylic technique that involves maneuvering a canvas to create a prismatic flow.”

Each piece in the collection takes the viewer on a journey into a different aspect of nature, both in color and texture. Many of his pieces are reminiscent of the inside of a geode or geological striations and tend to encourage a psychedelic experience, whether figurative or literal.

‘Scream Color Study.’ Fluid acrylic, latex, spray paint on canvas.
Alexis Ahrling

The work is well-placed in the One Hour Ahead Gallery, a modern, second-floor gallery that is flooded with natural light, boasting a view of both Red Mountain and Aspen Mountain. The walls are white, the floors concrete. This is important to the artist because he was looking for a space that would “display his work in a clear, clean, open way that would not distract from the art itself,” he said.

‘Dark Matter.’ Michael Wein, One Hour Ahead Gallery

He credits the love and support of his beloved grandparents, well-known Houston philanthropists and avid contemporary art collectors, Minnette and Jerome Robinson, for his appreciation of the power of art and his life philosophy.

“I want people to be productive with their life. I want them to do things and think outside the box and not be prohibited by societal norms,” he said.

If you go…

What: Michael Wein, The Grass is Greener
When: Now through Nov. 1
Where: One Hour Ahead Gallery, Aspen

The thought behind art curation in Aspen hotels

When you walk into the lounge at the Limelight Hotel, instantly you’ll see the colorful artwork displayed throughout the room. The delightful and engaging art is no coincidence, according to Eaton Fine Art’s artwork narrative on the hotel.

The art throughout was carefully curated by the hotel in collaboration with Eaton Fine Art, an art-consulting firm that specializes in creative project design, publishing and custom framing for the hospitality and healthcare industry internationally.

“Our team collaborated with artists who have unique perspectives and the ability to promote thought and discussion in their artwork for the Limelight Hotel Aspen’s curated collection,” Terry Eaton, president and chief curator of Eaton Fine Art, wrote in an email.

Public spaces in the hotel, which include the lounge, reception, meeting spaces and guest room corridors, feature artwork from across the world. The guest room and suite art, though, feature artists from Colorado, along with artists from across the United States and worldwide.

Artist Emma Lawrenson’s “Orange Farm” hanging in a guest suite at the Limelight Hotel.
Courtesy of Shawn O’Connor

“The guest rooms, for example, showcase a mixed-media art series titled, ‘Rivers Feed the Trees,’ which explores the impact of climate change,” Eaton wrote.

Meredith Nemirov, artist of “Rivers Feed the Trees,” worked with historic maps showing the topography of Colorado to create this piece, she wrote in her artist statement.

“The image makes a connection between the trees and the multitude of rivers appearing in surrounding canyons. The linear elements and patterns assigned by map makers to the various aspects of the geology of the land are visual in the landscape and the form of the tree,” she wrote.

“Rivers Feed the Trees” hanging in a guest room at the Limelight Hotel.
Courtesy of May Selby

According to Eaton, the collection in the public spaces transitions from a local-inspired experience to a more expansive perspective, setting the stage for internationally-renowned artists to express their voices. Artwork from Derrick Adams, Scott Reeder and David Shrigley can be found hanging throughout the hotel.

Three of David Shrigley’s pieces of art hang in the corridor to the guest rooms: “Art Will Save the World,” “Particles of Truth” and “I Am Elegant.”
Courtesy of Brandon Huttenlocher

“Shrigley’s work is humorous, interspersed with his witty observations and written commentary that satirizes every day life and awkward interactions. (Shrigley) works loosely and improvisationally,” the artist statement wrote.

The Crown family, owners of Aspen Skiing Company and its hospitality brands The Little Nell and Limelight Hotels, worked closely with Eaton Fine Art for this curation. Paula Crown, co-owner and renowned artist and activist, represented the family in directing the vision for the curation.

“Art has the ability to promote thought and discussion; the art in this program was selected to showcase artists whose work does just that,” Eaton Fine Art wrote in the artwork narrative.

Similar to the Limelight Hotel, the Little Nell Hotel has an extensive art collection specifically curated to meet Crown’s vision. The hotel’s main restaurant, Element 47, was designed to include an important collection of contemporary Aspen art, its website states.

This silverpoint on panel artwork by Michelle Grabner hangs in The Little Nell’s main restaurant, Element 47.
Courtesy of Jeremy Swanson


Aspen Chapel Gallery, Farm Collaborative partner on ‘Art Harvest’ mixed-media show

“Art Harvest,” a mixed-media show, will open at the Aspen Chapel Gallery with a reception for the artists from 4 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 24.

The exhibit will run through Oct. 1. Participating artists include: Rachel Becker, Michael Bonds, Megan Hughes, Peter Gannis, Sue Kolbe, Sam Louras (also the curator), Corina Minniti, Jayne Mosher, Leif Mosher, Fran Reither, Marty Schlein and Nina Zaale. 

The show is in partnership with The Farm Collaborative, a Colorado nonprofit, which has a mission to connect children, adults and community through farming and food. Ten percent of sales and 20% of sponsorships go to the nonprofit. 

The gallery opened 37 years ago; the “Art Harvest” unveiling will mark its 236th exhibition.

The Aspen Chapel Gallery is located in the Aspen Chapel, off the roundabout. For more information, call gallery co-directors Tom Ward, 970-925-8367, Michael Bonds, 970-925-6083, or the Aspen Chapel at 970-925-7184.

Photographer Nina Zale’s “Goats” will be part of the “Art Harvest” display running Aug. 24 through Oct. 1 at the Aspen Chapel Gallery, which is teaming with the Farm Collaborative on the exhibition.
Jayne Mosher used faux metal and yarrow stems to make “Bird Farm House with Windmill #2,” which will be will be part of the “Art Harvest” multi-media exhibition at Aspen Chapel Gallery that runs Aug. 24 through Oct. 1.

Art in Aspen: Summer 2018

Welcome to Art in Aspen: Summer 2018