40th reunion show at Telluride Gallery of Fine Art

“Approaching Autumn,” Elaine Frenette

Author Tom Wolfe coined the term that defined the era when Americans transitioned from lives focused on community or tribe (think “Hair”) to “run-with-the-loot” individualism. The 1970s was the “Me Decade.”

Major trends included a growing disillusionment with government (sound familiar?), advances in civil rights, increased influence of the women’s movement, heightened concern for the environment and space exploration. Even with war in Vietnam, social realignment and Nixon’s impeachment, America flourished, though political divides foreshadowed today’s radical polarization.

In the early 1970s, Telluride was just beginning to pulse thanks to a chap from Beverly Hills named Joe Zoline, who had just opened the ski resort. Still, half of Main Street was boarded up. While many people were high-tailing it out of town muttering darkly about the closing of the Idarado Mines, others from the tie-dyed generation were moving in, staking claims.

Next weekend, Friday, September 28 – Sunday, September 30, a number of long-time Telluride locals – including large numbers who moved away but kept Telluride in their hearts – are gathering for a reunion. Telluride’s version of “The Big Chill” includes a group of about 20 artists. A show of their work, organized by Gallery director Baerbel Hacke and artist/teacher Lynn Rae Lowe, takes place at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art. The opening reception for “Telluride Then & Now” is scheduled for Friday, September 28, 4 –7 p.m.

Who are some of the artists and what role did Telluride play in shaping their artistic future? Read on…

Lynn Rae Lowe, sculptor and painter:

While living in Telluride, Lynn Rae was a driving force behind the new skirt resort’s alternate identity as a cultural oasis, putting blood, sweat and tears (and often her own money) into institutions and events that became staples on the region’s cultural calendar. Back in the day, she was  chair of the Telluride Council on Arts (now Telluride Arts), created KOTO’s Silver Tongue Award to acknowledge the volunteer efforts that define the station, produced the Telluride Jazz Celebration, served for 16 years on the executive board of the Telluride Film Festival. Lynn Rae also taught K – 12 art.

“Fleeing Detroit in 1973, I came to see my brother, John Cohn, in Telluride. I felt  freed to start exploring who I was, while at the same time I was provided the opportunity to interact with celebrated creatives in all genres of arts and science. These personal experiences taught me creativity lies waiting within each of us. That insight gave me the confidence to pursue developing my own creative potential. I am still actively on that path, and grateful for the life of an artist. Beats me how that epiphany failed to take root in Detroit!”

Melanie Brittain, etching, watercolor, metallic leafing, collage (now) and oil painting (then):

“Working in my sunny Elks’ Club building studio, I realized that “real artists” don’t just “paint” on weekends, they “paint” everyday! Constant contact with master silk screen printer Rick Lamphere, whose studio was down the hall, was my biggest influence. My annual Telluride Film Festival art shows taught me how to sell to the public.”

Jan  Erikkson (was Weickhardt), etchings, relief prints (now) and watercolor (then):

“Living in Telluride… Good friends, fun times, caring criticism and great collaborative shows supported by strong local participation set me on a path to learn more and experiment more with my work.”

John Fahnestock, ceramacist (now and then):

“Telluride became the world to me…  It inspired everything I did, from showing movies to fighting fires to making pots, in a community that grew to accept me – and vice versa.”

Ruth Feldman, potter (now) and oil painter (then):

“I arrived in Telluride in the summer of 1972 and feel like the town is where I began my life as know it. I fell in love with the mountains, played in nature and made life long friends. There is a special bond for those of us who were lucky to be here back in “the day” before everyone else found it.”

Elaine Frenett, water media, mied media on archival paper and visual art journalism (now) and embroidery, thread, pen & ink, watercolor pigments (then):

“Living in Telluride, with all it’s beauty and character (yes, and characters) was the impetus that pushed me to develop my artistic talents and use them creativity. Finally, six years after I left Telluride, my yearning overcame my fears, and still, to this day, propels my endless curiosity and development.”

Jane Goren, painter, mixed media, prints, etc. (now and then):

“Miners came to Telluride looking for gold. I came looking for the rust they left behind. My images are metaphors for TRANSITION and the DUALITY of  LIFE and DEATH.  Combining these images with recycled materials addresses this metaphor as well as our survival in an edgy world. Telluride is edgy.

Rick Lamphere, digital giclee (now), silk screen printing (then):

“Telluride has such an abundance of natural scenic beauty, it is the source of infinite inspiration for a  creative person.”

Ingrid Lundahl, photographer (now and then):

“I entered the Sheridan Bar, Christmastime 1977. The blast of outlaw spirit was palpable. I knew I was home. Though writer by trade, I preferred speaking with my camera. I became obsessed with capturing Telluride’s impish behavior……and the festivals fraught with stars and musicians, bold enough to find their way to this remote burg, pre-airport. I still prefer shooting outlaws.”

Anna Tewes (was Margie Marchbanks):

“Telluride was my first experience living independently. I felt that it was very difficult trying to make a Jan Erikkson living doing art but I was determined it seems. I found success to a certain extent.”

For a preview of what’s in store at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Arts “Telluride Then & Now” extravaganza, watch Clint Viebrock’s video.

1 Comment
  • Ellen Brody
    Posted at 16:43h, 25 September

    What happened to me
    I filled out the application
    name size of my paintings
    Why was I not included