The Telluride AIDS Benefit began one week ago, on February 23, with a killer-diller Student Fashion Show. The culmination TAB’s activities, including prevention education and fundraising in support of  – count them – five beneficiaries ( Western Colorado AIDS Project, WestCAP. Children’s Hospital HIV Program, CHIP, Brother Jeff’s Health Initiative, Denver, Manzini Youth Care, Swaziland, Africa and the Ethiopian Family Fund, Africa) takes place this weekend.

Friday, March 2, is Baerbel Hacke’s Art Auction, with the bidding beginning at noon and the reception from 6 – 10 p.m. Saturday, March 3, the Telluride Medical Center offers free HIV testing and Saturday night is the Gala Fashion Show (sold out) and the After Party at the Llama.

What does all that ink have to do with Telluride Arts’s First Thursday Art Walk?


This month, in addition to all the wonderful shows at venues around town, for March Art Walk 2012, two local spaces run by Telluride Arts, the Stronghouse Studios, 283 South Fir, and Gallery 81435, 230 South Fir, have costume exhibitions dedicated to the memory of TAB’s muse, fabric artist Robert Presley. (The show at “81435” is a retrospective of Presley originals and at Stronghouse, it’s “Curious Couture” by local artists and seamsters.)


Robert Presley was the only boy among four siblings. From the get-go, he kept crossing the Mason-Dixon line between boys and girls. For Presley, clothes were never gender specific. In an interview we did way back in 1993, Robert told me: “Mom would always make us fabulous costumes for Halloween. That’s when I developed my outrageous taste in street clothes. I finally got kicked out of the house when I was 17 for refusing to stop dating men.”

Robert moved into a house with a group of medievalists and did the cooking, cleaning and sewing. “When I wasn’t up to my elbows in Ajax, I spent hours in the library doing research on costumes. Finally, I tired of that gig and went in search of legitimacy.” He joined the Navy, but not surprisingly, that experiment didn’t work. “I was discharged honorably,” he was told me once, “because my discharge officer liked my blue eyes.”

Robert discovered he was HIV+ just after he moved to Florida in 1987. Over the next few years, he worked in a costume shop in Boca Raton, performed slapstick drag in clubs all over South Florida, worked as a bartender, and met Ron.

In the summer, 1990, Presley visited Telluride. He met some people from the Telluride Repertory Theatre and designed costumes for their summer production. After Ron graduated cooking school in San Francisco, the couple returned to town (in 1992). For the next five years, Robert generously donated his talent and time to a number of not-for-profits, making one-of-a-kind garments for shows and bazaars and costumes for stage productions. For him, costuming was not a hobby. It was a way of life and his favorite method of self-expression.

Robert decided he was content to live in Telluride and sew for the rest of his life. The rest of his life ended in July 1997.

Among the other great shows happening on Thursday, March 1, at venues all over town, the Ah Haa School for the Arts, 300 South Townsend, Town showcases the work of three local artists: painting by Corinne Scheman, the ceramic sculptures of Michelle Montague, and in the East Gallery, mixed media works by Brittany Miller. (See related post and note: special hours Saturday, March 3, noon  6 p.m.)

Lustre, an Artisan’s Gallery, 171 South Pine Street, hosts a trunk show featuring the work of master jewelry designer Gurhan, who works in 24 karat gold. Pieces are embellished with black diamonds, ancient artifacts and a variety of precious and semi-precious stones. A self taught master goldsmith, Gurhan has perfected the art of hand forging pure gold into works of art.

“Gurhan is unique in his use of 24-karat gold, which is often considered too soft a metal to manipulate.After spending 18 months closeted in a small workshop in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, Gurhan rediscovered ancient metalsmithing techniques, some over 7000 years old, and improved upon them: pure gold is hand-worked, aged through a heating process, and given a stable form, resulting in a beautiful work of art,” said Christine Reich, co-owner of Lustre.

The “HorseShow” continues at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, 130 East Colorado, with new work from five of the artists in their, ahem, stable:Bernie Fuchs, Mark English, Nancy B. Frank, Adele Sypesteyn and Jenny Gummersall. Follow this link to watch a video based on images from that show:

At the Wilkinson Public Library, 100 West Pacific, here is a hanging sculpture by Flair Robinson, new painting by Susan McCormick and black-and-white photographs by Stronghouse artist Joe Skalsky.

For more information about Art Walk or Kids Walk, including specials at local restaurants, pick up a free brochure at any participating venue and around town or call Telluride Arts 970-728-8959,, or Telluride Arts on Facebook and Twitter.

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