Telluride Arts: Small Grants Announced

Telluride Arts: Small Grants Announced

It is with great pleasure and excitement that at the end of each spring Telluride Arts gets to announce the selected artists who have been awarded funds through our 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 the Town of Telluride and administered by Telluride Arts since 1999 to advance innovation and excellence among our local artists.

This year, Telluride Arts had 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 first and foremost based on the quality of the work. Another key factor was 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 eight 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.

2016 Small Grant Award Recipients

Colleen Thompson

Project Title: A Year With Precious Metal Clay

Project Description:

“Few things bring me greater joy than creating original and inspired handmade jewelry. As I have allowed myself to pursue this, I have uncovered that this is just the physical manifestation of a deeper desire to identify as an artist. My name is Colleen Thompson. I am 30 years old and a very active member of the Telluride community. I am an Ensemble Member of Telluride Theatre, an annual volunteer for the Pinhead Institute and a member of the Telluride Tire Softball Team. I also work two jobs, and somehow find twenty hours a week to dedicate to my art. I have always dreamed of being a professional jeweler, and even though that seemed out of reach, I still pursued any means possible to find an outlet for that talent. It was not until I stumbled on Precious Metal Clay (PMC), through a class offered by the Ah Haa School, that I felt like I had found a practical way to accomplish that goal.

For the last four years, I have been selling my work here in Telluride. My style has had to reflect the materials that I could afford and the basic skills that I have. One of the most difficult issues I have run into as an artist is having ideas but lacking the skills and materials to manifest them. Although I love the work I create, every artist must challenge themselves to evolve and grow into new and more refined mediums. PMC grants me the ability to make gallery quality jewelry without having to go to four years of design school to learn classical metalsmithing techniques.

PMC, a medium similar to clay, consisting of microscopic particles of pure silver, is now featured in almost every major jewelry competition, including the prestigious Saul Bell Design Award. It is also the most fascinating and inspiring thing I have ever touched. PMC allows the artist to make stunning sterling silver jewelry out of recycled silver. With proper training in this environmentally friendly, sustainable material I can achieve a dream that aligns with my personal beliefs about the environment.

I wish to use the Telluride Arts Professional Development Grant to purchase the basic supplies necessary to begin creating silver jewelry using PMC, as well as to take lessons under Christopher Beaver to continue my education as a professional jeweler. Christopher Beaver, a Telluride local who is well known for his many contributions to the arts in this town, is offering a five-day intensive course in PMC. This 40 hour construction class will enable me to learn the skills needed to create incredibly technical, gallery worthy pieces. I believe this opportunity will not only help me reach my goals, but to exceed them.”

Joseph Paczosa

Project Title: Professional Development for Artisan Metal Blacksmith: Haystack Mountain School

Project Description: “Combining Forces”

In this co-taught workshop, participants will explore inventive uses of material through creative problem-solving. Emphasis will be on the exploration of form, line, and surface while working with forged and fabricated steel to create furniture (mostly) that incorporates vessel forms and sculptural elements. Through discussions about design and function—and demonstrations of techniques—we will work to create objects that balance the industrial history of steel with a gracefulness of form. Along with forging solid bar and tubing/pipe, participants will learn how to create pattern and texture on sheet/plate steel. Also covered will be joinery techniques and finishing processes.

About my work:

Since 2001, I have earned my living solely an artisan blacksmith with my business Telluride Forge. Much of my focus has been on working with clients to create artisanal pieces that are worthy of being showcased in the home or community. They are created with an eye for both function and detail and built to last as heirloom pieces. It has not been an easy road, but it is the direction that my passions have led me. My interest in blacksmithing began more than 25 years ago, when I was introduced to the traditional style of blacksmithing when I apprenticed with a family friend who was a master blacksmith living in the Vail Valley. The creative process, hard work and discipline suited me well and I ended up working with him for 4 years. In the years that followed, I taught myself further by reading, trial and error and practice. I learned how to create different patinas, and experiment with textures and form. I built a small forge in my own shop and took on small metal jobs to supplement my work as a finished carpenter. My techniques improved and I expanded my creative range. In about 2000, the scales tipped and I found that the majority of my commissions were for contemporary sculptural metal work and I decided it was time to focus my energies on blacksmithing alone. In the fall of 2001 I moved to Telluride and created my business Telluride Forge.

Today I work with ferrous and non-ferrous metals and incorporate wood and other elements from nature into my designs. I combine old world joinery with modern lines and design to create one-of-a kind custom pieces. I’ve attended numerous workshops at both the Turley Forge in Santa Fe, NM and through the Rocky Mountain Blacksmith Association to help me hone my skills, but most of what I know beyond my formative years as an apprentice has been self-taught.”

Marissa Mattys

Project Title: Marissa Mattys

Project Description: The Derring-Do Outposts

“This project is a series of short interviews I will conduct on-camera with incredible individuals showcasing and discussing their everyday heroics. Subjects will be from various backgrounds who take intelligent risks and respond to their realities in bold, creative ways. Content will be focused on representational anecdotes derived from a predetermined set of questions designed to allow subjects to illustrate the ways in which they are the heroes of their own stories (see below). Filming will take place in unexpected but related contexts and locations.

For as long as I can remember, people have been telling me the stories they hold dear–intimate things, sometimes difficult things. People seem to find me and tell me of their heroics, their Wilderness, their indomitable spirit. These deserve to be celebrated amongst a greater audience. I want to explore the possible outcomes of pairing the skills I acquired during my performance studies in New York with my skill of disarming people in a public way. Film is the best medium to guide this exploration because it allows for a site-specific encapsulation of a story to be shared with a large number of people.”

Molly Radecki

Project Title: Untitled

Project Description:

“I would like to direct a stop motion animation using a selection of instrumental pieces composed by Bubba Lee Schill. (A sample of Bubba’s work can be found on this sound cloud page, The animation will be 20 minutes long. The subjects of the animation will be drawn from a collection of nostalgic objects, such as my extra large silver lighter found by my grandfather, illustrations from antique books, and a hand colored photograph of soldier found in thrift shop in Prague.

The project will be themed around invisible struggles. For example, when describing my learning disability it is easier to say that words feel like they are stuck in a spin cycle in my brain than to elucidate through language. A friend recently described their view of ADD as like having a toy box brain rather than a dresser drawer brain. This is another invisible struggle. I would like to illustrate these struggles through visual metaphors created with stop motion animation because I believe this format can show something that words can not. My hope that through this project awareness will be raised about the hidden complexities of human behavior.

I am influenced by David Lynch and Jan Svankmajer. I recently read David Lynch’s book, ‘How to Catch a Big Fish.’ In the book he describes how his crossing over from painting to film started with stop motion animation. David Lynch states, ‘To me, a story can be both concrete and abstract, or a concrete story can hold abstractions. And abstractions are things that really can’t be said so well with words.’”

Natalie Jones

Project Title: Hott Chicks are Funny Too

Project Description:

“Here’s my take on Nat Jones. Very funny, very hard working, and really creative. Nat has a unique comic voice that needs to be nurtured and put out to the world. BOOM!” -Jeb Barrier

I began doing stand up comedy in 2011 after a friend signed me up for an open mic night behind my back. To my surprise, I was a natural from the start and so, the seeds of passion for standup began. After my first amateur slot, the club where I was performing asked me to be a member of their comedy team. It was an exciting and inspiring moment for me. Starry-eyed, I began my journey to New York to pursue my dreams, I have been briefly waylaid in Telluride for four years. But now it is time to take it to the max, the show…LA baby.

Recently, I was invited to perform at the Telluride Comedy Fest. This five-minute performance provided the affirmation for my love, talent, and comfortable confidence I have making people laugh.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I have discovered that my purpose is, to make people laugh and that my restless ambition has found its focus. Moving forward, I am committed to be the best I can possibly be and am confident, through the support of friends, family, and community, of my success.

To begin this process I am going to Hollywood to study at The Second City on April 8-10 2016, when I will be taking the accelerated Improv 1 immersion course. This course is the first prerequisite I need to complete all other classes I plan to take at The Second City. By doing so, I will immerse myself into a community where I am surrounded by like minded individuals who are as committed to the craft as me.

After this course, I plan to begin building a one-hour standup act using the skills I learned. I will be traveling between Telluride and LA to cover my regular gigs and performing standup at open mics as often as possible to workshop my act.

During the summer, I will be embarking on a full regimen of stand up appearances and further education to round out my hilarity and professionalism as a full-blown comedian, beginning with Improv 2 July 22-24. When I return this time, I plan on staying in LA for at least one year. This is the year I do nothing but focus on comedy. Relentless focus on being the best funny lady I can be. I will return to Telluride to share my developments through out the year and show off my recently procured Cali swag.”

Scott Upshur

Project Title: Project: BOOM

Project Description:

“”Project: BOOM ” is a documentary revealing the practice of nuclear fracking in Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. The film draws correlations between that history and today’s industry practices and investigates the conditions — physical and political — that allowed nuclear warheads to be detonated in potentially hazardous areas to extract natural gas as well as serving more surreptitious political purposes.

The original project was a short film. Based on that film’s successes, we are expanding the project to an in-depth exploration of the subject, creating a longer version that will examine important additional stories and content. The nuances created in this longer version will build a more impactful and realistic connection to the subject matter — critical to communicating the relevance of this history and current issues.

The Telluride Arts grant would allow us to complete the first and most important phase of the project including research and creating a treatment of the project. This phase gives us much better direction to how the larger project will be told. Since this is an on-going project, I am just requesting the grant directly for the remaining research expenses only. Those research and treatment expenses are listed below.”

Stephanie Osan and Danielle Jenkins

Project Title: Original Dance Performance

Project Description:

“We currently dance and choreograph for local arts organizations, including Telluride Theatre and Young People’s Theater. We each have diverse training and performance experience, and we share goals to improve our own dance repertoire and to create and stage independent dance works. In Telluride, few opportunities exist to train, perform, and experience dance. Our project would improve the dance scene three-fold through professional development, the creation of an original show, and the free performance of that show.

To support this work, we need to broaden our dance technique and deepen our practice of choreography. We will spend one week in Denver (June 6–12) studying a variety of dance styles with noteworthy innovators of the front range dance community. We have consulted with Lyndia Perralta (professional dancer and former choreographer for Telluride Theatre) to develop a comprehensive list of the most beneficial classes to take in the following styles: modern, contemporary, hip hop, jazz, and African dance. Our training will culminate with a two-day workshop with Schiff Dance Company on June 11th and 12th. The workshop teaches movement improvisation techniques, and the format will provide the opportunity to be mentored by a company that inspires us. In addition to taking classes, we will attend several dance performances to experience professional examples of complete dance works.

Upon returning from our training, we will begin building material for our show based on the new movement vocabulary and choreography methods we internalize in Denver. In late July we will hold dance auditions and select 6-10 local performers to train and incorporate in our piece. We have already reached out to local artists who are excited to collaborate with us on this production. In August we will begin meeting with our costume designer (Elena Levin), hair and make-up artist (Colleen Thompson), and lighting designer (Tree Priest).”

Suzan Beraza

Project Title: ¡NO SOY PUTA! [I am not a whore]

Project Description:

“I am applying for project assistance to subsidize post-production expenses to hire five Telluride local editors/assistant editors, including myself, Suzan Beraza (full resume included with this application); David Byars (Cinematographer – ¡NO SOY PUTA!, Camera/Editor – URANIUM DRIVE-IN); Casey Nay (Producer/Editor – URANIUM DRIVE-IN, BAG IT); Carly Salter (Editing intern for Reel Thing Productions 2014); Vincent Martin (Editor – I AM NOT A BOY).

We are currently vetting top-tier documentary story editors for the film that the five local editors will be working under. The selected editor we hire will mentor the assistant editors throughout the process. This will be an invaluable, resumé-building experience for the local editors.

Film Information:

¡NO SOY PUTA! is a character-driven, predominantly vérité documentary that takes place in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, two ethnically and culturally distinct countries that have been forced to share an island since colonial times.

The film follows Pikilina, a sex worker of Haitian descent, and her family, including her common law partner [Junior], a Haitian construction worker who is an under-the-table laborer in the capital four hours away; her two children [Ani and Ricardo]; her mother [Cocota], a Vodou priestess; and her sister [Lilina], a Haitian-rights activist. They represent an intimate perspective into the political and cultural unrest erupting on the island. Due to the recent controversial law which strips citizenship from Dominican-born people of Haitian descent, hundreds of thousands of persons living in the D.R. face deportation, including Pikilina and her children. These people are now stateless—citizens of neither country.”

Congratulations to all of our 2016 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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