Recently, USA Today selected Tubac, Arizona as having the Best Small Town Arts Scene. “Where is Tubac?” you ask…my point exactly!
When it comes to diverse art, bigger is not always better. Small towns like Taos, New Mexico, Jerome, Arizona, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Cody Wyoming and Eureka Springs, Arkansas are seeing a surge in visitors because of their thriving arts culture. They are drawing support and event-bound ticket-buyers from surrounding communities, as well as art lovers from near and far. The Fraser Valley of Colorado hopes to join their club!
The Fraser Valley is in Grand County, Colorado and what it lacks in size, it makes up for in talent! The Valley is a conglomeration of towns that include its namesake Fraser. Once known as “The Icebox of the Nation” Fraser has a growing population of 1,532 and is located along U.S. Highway 40, between the Winter Park Ski resort and little-known Tabernash, the home of world-class Nordic resorts Snow Mountain Ranch and Devils Thumb Ranch. Winter Park has gained recent notoriety after being selected the Top Downhill Ski Resort in North America. A wonderland for “all things snow” during the winter, they are also a hub for biking activity in the summer months. Tabernash, named after a Ute Indian, is an unincorporated blip on the map that sits at an elevated on 8,405 feet above sea level and has a population of less than 500 people. Further up the road, Granby, Colorado sits 85 miles northwest of Denver and is just 15 miles from the destination getaway, Rocky Mountain National Park. The most populous municipality in Grand County with just over 2000 residents, Granby was founded in 1904 and its current claim to fame is its gold medal fishing. But all that’s about to change…
The one thing that each of these historical little towns has in common is BIG talent. Take, for example, Shannon Foley Henn, the owner and curator of UPTRIPPING.
Taking an excerpt from the website, uptripping.com, “Shannon grew up in a uniquely creative household. Her father was a talented painter whose pieces adorned the walls of their family home. Her mother is a sought after interior designer with a meticulous eye for detail and finishings. At a young age Shannon was enamored by modern art and was encouraged to be creative in every aspect of life. She earned a scholarship to the Moore College of Art & Design to attend courses while still in high school.”
To see her work will bring Warhol and Lichtentein to mind. She not only exhibits her paintings in the Uptripping shop/gallery, she fills it full of other artist’s works who create in paint, wood, metal and clay. Her art can be seen everywhere around the valley; from the sides of brick buildings to a speak-easy like pub.
Karen Vance also grew up surrounded by art and a creative family. Her paintings have received numerous awards and have been acquired by many prominent collections including: The Whitney Museum of American Western Art, The Colorado Governor’s Art Collection, The Nagel Collection at the University of Denver, The Wells Fargo Corporation, First Interstate Bank Corporation, The Bob and Suzanne Fanch Collection at Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort (which is located in Tabernash), Solaris Resort, in Vail, Colorado, The Estate of Lord and Lady Waterford in Ireland and the Austrian Consulate in Chicago, Illinois.
These are just a couple of the creatives that are well-known in the area and who have “made it”. From photographers to painters, potters, performers and musicians, Fraser Valley Art was developed for those artists who have been hidden away in their garage or basement studios, or who create late at night on the dining room table. “The goal of Fraser Valley Arts is to support all creative spirits that work in live in this community” says Steve Fitzgerald, President of Fraser Valley Arts. To date, FVA has identified over 75 “creatives” across the Valley, not including the younger artists that are still in school.”
Steve himself is an artist. Fitzgerald has been awarded several honors for his works in clay including the Artists of Colorado Show in Manitou Springs, Colorado – Manitou Springs being another of this year’s nominees for The Best Small Town Art Scene!
Fraser Valley Arts is a not-for-profit organization made up of volunteers with a goal of one day being able to build the Fraser Creative Arts Center for artists and art lovers to come together. The plan is to house studios, living quarters and galleries within the same location. Learn more HERE!
Meanwhile, Fraser Valley Arts plans to promote any and all things art within the small mountain communities that make up the Fraser Valley. They will work hand-in-hand with Fraser’s PAC (Public Arts Committee) on events like the Fraser Mountain Mural Festival and in conjunction with the Colorado Headwaters Land Trust on an outside painting event, Plein Air @ Altitude 2021. They promote art classes for area youth and adults through the Fraser Valley Rec District. FVA is also available to help individuals or organizations connect with artists from all disciplines across the Valley.
To keep up with the growing Fraser Valley art scene or to learn more about events or how you can contribute to Fraser Valley Arts’ future, visit FraserValleyArts.org.