Aspen Times Weekly: Art Goes Wild |

Aspen Times Weekly: Art Goes Wild

by Andrew Travers

The Carbondale-based conservation watchdog Wilderness Workshop has been sending artists into the woods since 2008 through its artist-in-wilderness program. What six of them captured in the wild is now on display at the Launchpad Gallery.

The residency puts local, state and national artists in a cabin near Marble for a week during the summertime and gives them the freedom to make art inspired by their surroundings and the land Wilderness Workshop aims to protect.

Local artists have been included as well. The Launchpad show,

titled “Colorado Artists in

Wilderness Residency: Past and Present,” showcases works by Centennial State participants: watercolorist Joan Engler (2008), painter Michael Kinsley (2009), mixed-media artist Sylvia Emery Wilhelm (2010), sculptor Nancy Lovendahl (2012), sculptor Jill Scher (2013) and painter Ellen Woods (2015) who also curated the show. Their work ranges from representational landscapes to impressionistic and abstract pieces inspired by the outdoors.

Last year, Wilderness Workshop brought five artists into the woods through the program, and draws applicants from the Roaring Fork Valley, across the U.S. and around the world. In 2008, the program received six applications. This year, as word has spread about the opportunity, it received 36. The program was founded to honor watercolorist and wilderness advocate Dottie Fox. Participants are chosen by a jury of artists and collectors.

“Art and wilderness have quite a lot in common if you just open your eyes,” Workshop board member Mary Dominick-Coomer told The Aspen Times last year. “Art is all around us. The initial idea was, ‘Why not have an artist in the wilderness and capture their impressions?’”

Artists are free to do what they like with their time in the wild. The nonprofit requires participating artists to donate one piece of work to be auctioned off for Wilderness Workshop’s benefit and license additional works for Wilderness Workshop materials, such as notecards and posters. The first auction of Artist in Wilderness works included 14 of their pieces and took place in the summer of 2014.

Art-centric events like the auctions and the Launchpad show serve as a unique kind of outreach for the nonprofit, aiming to bring art collectors and enthusiasts who might not otherwise interact with a wilderness advocacy group into the fold and to see the value in protecting public lands.

“It’s quite different from going on a hike or taking part in a political movement to save the Thompson Divide,” Dominick-Coomer says.

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