With Thanksgiving upon us, I sit here thinking about creativity in general and Ah Haa School for the Arts specifically and I am filled with gratitude. Reflecting upon the past year and all the good that has come to fruition, I am compelled to give thanks.

I left Ah Haa as a full time employee only to pursue a more balanced life of painting and deeper creative exploration. But don’t confuse my departure with rejection. The opposite is true.

I fully honor the fact that an organization like Ah Haa exists in our small community. For a town of 2000+ to have a “community art center,” a place where someone like me can go to learn and be inspired by other artists, a place that offers the depth and breath of creative classes Ah Haa does, is simply astonishing. (For that matter, the amount of raw talent in Telluride is pretty astonishing.)

My thoughts then turn to why Ah Haa has been around so long and remains one of the largest nonprofits in the Telluride region. My conclusion: it’s all about love.

Daniel Tucker founded Ah Haa because of his love of art and bookmaking and a desire to share those things with the community at large – which he also loved. Daniel wanted to assist others in finding and experiencing those incredible moments when rhyme, reason, hard work, courage, inspiration, and joy come together and an individual experiences the proverbial “ah haa” moment. For over 20 years, staff, locals, students from near and far, artists and art lovers alike, have worked together to make the Ah Haa School a creative sanctuary from everyday reality and a safe haven where the artistic spirit can take root and flourish.

Ah Haa has endured the inevitable ups and downs associated with growing pains and I celebrate its staying power everyday. The fact I can live in the beauty and isolation that only a place like Telluride can provide and pursue the things that make my soul sing overwhelms me with joy. That this community supports, nurtures and celebrates every attempt at creativity by anyone brave enough to try also fills me with gratitude.

Recently I’ve been a part of the third block of the Ah Haa School’s new Telluride Painting Academy, an exploration into personal expression and the artistic process through mixed media. In the course, I have sat with other locals also looking deep within, then struggling to figure out ways to represent their feelings on canvas for all the world to experience.

I believe the Telluride Painting Academy has great potential.

Ah Haa’s new initiative offers anyone ready to dig deep the guidance of exceptional artist-instructors. The rigorous and intense course is conducted in a structured academic environment – exactly what I was looking for and it walked right through my front door.

What luck.

So on the eve of Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday for the shared possibility of celebrating food and purpose, I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the Ah Haa School. Anyone who has volunteered, taught, cleaned, donated, attended an event, created, supported, shared a catalog, cared enough to share a thought or a comment, I thank you all from the bottom of my very full heart.

Now let’s break bread.

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