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Rio Costilla Studio Tour, September 8th and 9th, Colorado and New Mexico

A white marble goddess reclines in gestation. Mandalas reflect an artist’s center. Ceramic murals mimic the motion of the natural world. Organic, home-baked pastries and breads and garden inspired meals nourish the people. All these can be seen in the dozen or so studios scattered throughout southern Colorado and northern New Mexico.
The Rio Costilla Studio Tour weekend, September 8th and 9th, will enlighten art lovers of the fine artist’s daily world and celebrate the landscape which allows this creativity to blossom. The tour spans from Jaroso, Colorado, just above the state line in the San Luis Valley, to Amalia, New Mexico, just below the state line. Open blue skies, potato and alfalfa fields, high alpine desert plains, wildlife and the jagged Sangre de Cristo mountain range hem in this little valley and provide a natural canvas for creative living. (See www.riocostillastudiotour.org for maps and a list of participating artists.)

“Art should be an integral part of everyday life. Not an elitist function,” sculptor, painter and writer Kathy Park says. “You won’t be intimidated by walking into our studios.” In fact, during the Studio Tour, Colorado and New Mexico artists open their doors and welcome people into their studios which are often also their homes.

Over fourteen years ago, this unexpected community of artists wished to bring people to the more relaxed atmosphere of their studios, educate the public about their artwork and its origins and celebrate their lifestyle.

“This is not like a regular art show. The people who are interested in art are the ones who are showing up. I see a more curious, interested audience. In a gallery or a fair, one out of a hundred people are actually interested in what I do. With the tour, it’s more like one in four,” says ceramic muralist and cellist Mark Dudrow of Jaroso, Colorado.  “I can see people’s reactions, especially if they come from some urban place. It’s mind expanding for them to see our lifestyle and the landscape.”

Even the local farmers and ranchers have become more involved over the years and tour participants appreciate the gifts and art that come from the land. Just a quick two-mile jaunt from Dudrow’s showroom is Kelly West’s ever expanding bakery on the family farm and ranch. Heaven Scent breads come in the form of loaves, bowls and numerous varieties from sourdough to herbed. West also makes scones, muffins and coffee cakes, including some gluten-free versions that far outshine commercial attempts. Her husband Dave raises cattle, and they will be serving organic hamburgers at the bakery.

Down the road to the west and across a little jog, Dean Swift uses his whole field as a palette of color for the native wildflower seeds he grows. The Art Illustrator in Amalia, New Mexico, will have a full menu for the weekend which includes garden grown vegetables made into eggplant parmesan (my personal favorite), chicken enchilada casserole, stuffed peppers and garden salads.

“For us, it’s not so much about selling artwork, but more about meeting people, talking to them, even doing a demonstration,” says Henry Woolbert, a painter who creates figurative and abstract paintings. His new series shows a variety of large and small mandalas that involve sacred geometry. “We invite people to come see what an extremely talented community we live in, to support artists and creativity and especially, given the times, to see our labor of love. Come and be prepared to be astonished by the quality of the artwork. Be prepared to be welcomed into people’s studios, and enjoy an incredible weekend of food and art.” 

By Michelle Le Blanc

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