Telluride Arts: Small Grant Award Recipients

Telluride Arts: Small Grant Award Recipients

Each spring, it is with great pleasure and excitement we announce the names of the artists we have selected to be awarded funds through Telluride Arts’ Small Grants for Artists program.

Small Grants support the innovation, creativity and professional development of individual artists living in the Telluride region. The Small Grants for Artists program is funded by our enlightened Town of Telluride and administered by the Telluride Arts District. The Small Grants program has advanced innovation and excellence among our local artists since 1999.


This year, we had a record 36 artists apply for funding in a variety of fields for both new project ideas and professional development. Disciplines varied across the board from fine arts, to theatre, music, film, and literary arts. Applicants represented the distinctive diversity of creative talent that thrives in the Telluride Arts District.

Proposals are selected based on the quality of the work first and foremost, along with the artists’ plan to enrich the lives of the Telluride community by sharing their work through a performance, publication, exhibit, screening. and other happenings.

A peer panel of artists representing multiple disciplines assembled in early March and awarded nine artists a total of $10,000. The process is extremely competitive. The panel reviews applications and then meets for most of a day to review and carefully evaluate the proposals. The whole process is both respectful and rigorous, and increasingly competitive. 

2015 Artists:

Colin Sullivan

Project Title: Double Edge Winter Training Intensive

Project Description: For the last two winters, I’ve been fortunate enough to scrape together the funding to go train and collaborate with a highly physical theatre company, living and working in rural Ashfield, MA. The company, Double Edge Theatre, has been around for nearly 20 years and has slowly transformed a former 100-acre dairy farm into a living, breathing collaborative for theatre artists from all over the world.

As an actor who creates characters primarily from a physical place, the week-long training has become an essential way for me to provide a new dialogue in the way I create and help me to open a dialogue with other like-minded theatre artists, who create in a very similar way to our company in Telluride. As a company director of Telluride Theatre, it is a chance for me to study the evolution of a similar professional acting company; one who provides a life and agency for their young company artists, and creates inventive and important work in a secluded rural place. One day my hope is to eventually bring them to Telluride for both training and performing with Telluride Theatre. For now, I will settle on passing each New Year learning something about myself and new ways to communicate on stage, with like-minded actors, in an old barn, in the bitter New England winter.

Dalen Stevens

Project Title: Requiem for Eagles

Project Description: This proposed musical composition project is part of a much larger collaborative project that is taking place between the Telluride and Durango Choral Societies…two arts organizations that have established long-term relationships within our respective communities. We will be jointly producing two concerts that will involve approximately 125-130 musicians drawn from both communities. The concerts will take place at the Palm Theater in Telluride, and at St. Colomba’s Catholic Church in Durango, October 9th and 11th, 2015. As the center-piece of the concerts, we will be performing a world premier of a new Choral/Orchestral work titled ” Requiem for Eagles.” This Requiem is based on the traditional Latin text of the “Mass for the Dead,” but utilizes a number of uplifting melodies inspired by Native American music . . . hence the relationship to the symbology of the Eagle. There will also be several other newly-composed pieces, written by the applicant.

David Byars

Project Title: Me the People – Trailer

Project Description: Extremist groups, backed by militia, are seeking to hold hostage America’s public lands.

“Me the People” aims to explore this phenomenon – capturing the growing movement that is attempting to wrest public lands from federal control. The film will focus primarily on modern events, but will also explore the roots of the Sagebrush Rebellion and provide a short history of public lands.

“Recapture” is a short film that David Byars premiered at Mountainfilm 2014 that tells the story of Phil Lyman, a Utah County Commissioner, and his miniature Sagebrush Rebellion in which he attempts to assert local control of nearby, federally protected Recapture Canyon, home to ancient Puebloan ruins. “Me the People” will serve to expand on this story. The film will touch upon themes of wilderness, stewardship, civil disobedience, the psychology of armed resistance, and equitable justice. These topics are extremely timely as our country is at a crossroads in determining its future relationship with the environment, asking the question: are our public lands here for our profit at all costs or are we beholden to future generations to preserve the beauty by which we are surrounded?

Drew Ludwig

Project Title: The Dumbsaint (working title)

Project Description: The Dumbsaint, an artist-zine published quarterly, will innovatively address the current political climate and culture of the Telluride region, from the perspective of the artist and creative communities. The zine will provide an alternative media voice to the current newspaper monopoly, introducing political concerns through visual sensibility and establishing the presence of an underground culture that is generative and healthy. The zine will exist as an art document, bridging the space between the purely rationalist perspective of a newspaper and the undefined space of fine art. The Dumbsaint will enjoy collaborations with local writers, artists, and activists including Corinne Platt (author of “Voices of the American West”), Ben Knight (filmmaker of Damnation) and Karla Gonzalez (interim director of the San Miguel Resource Center). The publication will be produced in partnership with Katie Klingsborn, previously the editor of the Telluride Daily Planet and Julia Gualtieri, an associate professor at Lesley University and head printer at Black Cat Graphics in Providence, RI. The zine will be a genuine, vibrant arts publication that visually and conceptually articulates the concerns of the community.

Emily Palmquist

Project Title: If My Life Lasted Only One Day (Working Title)

Project Description: A documentation of mesa life composed of seasonal installments rendered in a realistic style with hints of mixed media and abstraction. With each new season, I intend to capture the constant change of the landscape around me – its wild flowers, dead or freshly sprung, its sunsets, glimpses of ranch life, wild life and other nuances. Alongside the changes of my environment, I would like to record the progression of our (my boyfriend and myself) efforts on the ranch, i.e. raising chickens, maintaining the land, keeping horses, planting a vegetable garden, and the great satisfaction found in the physical labor these pursuits require. I intend to complete roughly 13 small “quilt patch” paintings to later be hung among the “patches” of the other seasons, forming one large “quilt” of images, glimpses of the detail in my environment. I will also complete three medium sized paintings per season to be hung stacked, four rows by three columns. These will focus on broad landscapes capturing the essence of time passing. Lastly, over the course of the year, I plan to complete four large scale paintings. Each of these will depict a more specific “moment” within a season, some memorable activity or drama. I envision these disperses among the space, serving as bullet points or punctuation marks throughout the story or a year and the cadence of the exhibition.

Lane Smith 

Project Title: 12 Oz. of Telluride

Project Description: I would like to render a series of 24 aerosol landscapes/townscapes in and around Telluride. No one has ever rendered the epic scenery in the Telluride area with aerosol paint, it is almost always done in more traditional mediums such as oil and acryllic. I would like to create some more contemporary work. This could also be transformed into mural project, but as of now I believe large-scale canvasses are more realistic. These canvasses would then be sold to raise money for a legal street art wall in Telluride, where street artists from all over the world could come and render pieces on a ephemeral space.

Marissa Mattys

Project Title: Professional Development

Project Description: I am creating an original performance piece based on the culmination of four months of training in acting, comedy, and writing in New York City and Massachusetts. My course work will include “Improvisation 101” and “Sketch Comedy 101” at the Upright Citizens Brigade Training Center in Manhattan as well as “Acrobatics of the Heart,” a 2-week, Grotowski-based acting training intensive in western Massachusetts.

Michael Wyszynski

Project Title: Commuting

Project Description: I’d like to connect people in Norwood and Telluride through a series of pastel paintings of the commute between the two communities. I think for all of us who commute we tend to not look around us, we tend to stop seeing the incredible beauty of the San Miguel canyon. I’d like to try and capture on paper the scenes we see everyday on our drive in and out of town, night and day, summer and winter.

Scott Harris

Project Title: The Under Side

Project Description: There are too many paintings of Main St (Colorado Ave), looking from in front of the Courthouse, past the Sheridan, into Ingram Falls. The show idea, and the overall concept, is to spend some time finding several distinctive and amazing vantage points. Mostly architecture, although focusing on different views as to what is available throughout our town. Then to create a series of paintings of special vantage points, in my own style of painting and expression. Conceptually, the point is to display a different vantage point and fresh angles of what Telluirde is. Technically, my plan is to paint all of the images in my own unique style of application. This is a long process of layering up piles of paint and sanding down to reveal a mostly flat impressionist style of imagery. The show would be a culmination of totally different vantage points and views of Telluride, in a unique style, at price points and sizes that would speak to many patrons.

Congratulations to all of our 2015 grantees!


The Telluride Arts District serves the region by sustaining, promoting and expanding the arts. The physical district, established in 2012, follows the boundaries of the Town of Telluride, and contains a remarkable concentration of arts and cultural activity. The Telluride Cultural Master Plan provides the roadmap for programs that enhance the arts within the district. Current priorities include providing resources for local artists, marketing Telluride as an arts destination, and securing space for the arts.



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