Simpson Featured Artist at Ah Haa New Year’s Gala

Simpson Featured Artist at Ah Haa New Year’s Gala

Nature-inspired jewelry that will rock your world. Now on display at Ah Haa


Raise your hand if you’ve ever picked up a stone or pebble while working along a beach or a path. I thought so. Hard to resist those beautiful shapes and seductive textures. But generally we simply examine our find, perhaps turning it between our fingers like a worry bead. From time to time, we save the hard, rounded shape as a treasured relic to place on a windowsill or shelf as a reminder of a pleasurable past experience. Mostly though, we toss it back on the ground and walk on.

Not Sally Simpson.

The role of rocks in the world of this metal artist is non-traditional.

Sally combines unpolished stones found on beaches all over the world and other natural materials such as ocean glass and Tahitian pearls with silver, gold, brass and copper to create her signature pieces of jewelry – which makes the wind and the waves her primary business partners. It is their intrinsic simplicity, their unadorned beauty, and their references to commonly held uncommon experiences, their rough surfaces in combination with shiny metal or the warmth of leather that appeals to the artist.


“Raw physical contrasts inspire me. It is the juxtapositions of natural materials I find so intriguing. The ongoing challenge for me is to create new pieces from basic elements that capture the eye and heart of the beholder.”

There is an undeniable and consistent elegance to Sally Simpson’s work, which defies glitz and the quicksilver nature of fashion. In fact, her jewelry (and home decor objects) are the apotheosis of what is arguably the most famous statement about contemporary design of the 20th century, architect Mies Van der Rohe’s “Less is more.”

Sally Simpson and multi-media sculptor Mike Stasiuk are the two artists selected this year by the Ah Haa School for the Arts to feature at their 5th annual New Year’s Eve Gala. On the surface, their work is entirely different – jewelry versus fanciful figurative sculpture – but theirs is a common thread:  the transformation of everyday objects most people would overlook or toss into memorable works of art.


Sally’s and Mike’s pieces continue to be on display for Telluride Arts’ January Art Walk, with the show closing the third week of the month.

The gala and subsequent January show are fundraisers for the Ah Haa School for the Arts, Telluride’s community art center, founded 23 years ago by visionary Daniel Tucker, a book artist, as a place of personal discovery: The name Ah Haa is a close approximation of the Greek “eureka,” the utterance attributed to Archimedes on discovering a method for determining the purity of gold. By featuring the two artists, the Gala show ties directly to Ah Haa’s mission to inspire and celebrate creativity.

Sally Simpson was hardwired to celebrate the natural world through her work in metal and other organic material. Growing up in a small town in Oregon, on weekends her parents would create metal sculptures celebrating scenes from nature.


At the University of Oregon, Sally started studying architecture, but switched to the art department, eventually graduating with a masters degree in education. For the next 12 years, Sally taught art in junior high school and high school, before retiring to be a mom and continue independent studies in a variety of mediums, including ceramics and jewelry-making.

In the early 1990s, husband Lary, an entertainment attorney, came to Telluride for the first time to attend the Film Festival. The next year, he returned with Sally. Shortly thereafter, the couple decided to settle here.

Sally took her first Ah Haa class in 2003.

‘It was a mushroom class led by John Sir Jesse. I loved it.”


In short order, Sally returned to metal arts, making jewelry in the studio the couple built in their home and studying with Michael Goode at the Denver School of Metal Arts and with Hilary Douglass, Jon Hubbard, Lisa Issenberg, Amy Schilling, and Harold O’Connor at Ah Haa.

Sally joined Ah Haa’s board in the mid-aughts and is now a trustee of the school.

“A former teacher of mine once said we can take ‘the details of everyday life and elevate them through art.’ As a former art teacher and metal artist, I have to agree. I think Telluride would be less of place without an art school of the caliber of Ah Haa.”

About the Telluride Arts District:


Telluride Arts District logo


The Ah Haa School for the Arts, the Telluride region’s community art center, is a key player in the Telluride Arts District. 

We believe in a culture of the Arts—creativity across disciplines—and we strive to sustain, promote and expand all creative pursuits in our mountain community. Anchored on the west by the Palm Theatre, the south by the Ah Haa School for the Arts, the north by the Telluride Historical Museum and the east by the Town Park Stage, the district contains world-class exhibits, music, film, theatre, literature, architecture, design, food, and artists of all disciplines

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.