Telluride Arts: 2017 Small Grants Artists Announced

Telluride Arts: 2017 Small Grants Artists Announced

Telluride Arts announced the recipients of their annual Small Grants for Artists program. Eleven different artists were awarded a total of $10,000 for various projects and endeavors.

Telluride Arts’ Small Grants Awards range from professional development courses to specific projects and collaborations. Disciplines varied across the board from fine arts, to theatre, music, film, and literary arts representing the diversity of creative talent that thrives in the Telluride Arts District.

Proposals are first and foremost chosen on the quality of the work, along with the different artists’ plans 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 reviewed each application individually. They then gathered to collectively evaluate the proposals and award funding. With a talented pool of applicants, the decision process was very challenging: not every proposal received an award or full funding. The whole process is both respectful and rigorous – and increasingly competitive. Each year Telluride Arts is impressed with the quality proposals it receives, a true testament to the strong creativity within this community.

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. Telluride Arts’ Small Grants program has advanced innovation and excellence among Telluride’s local artists since 1999.

2017 Small Grant Award Recipients:

Alec Jacobson
Project Title: “Sheepherders”
Project Description:

“Isolated by terrain, language and a struggling industry, sheep herders pass lonely summers in the National Forest above Telluride. I will open a window into their world, shooting photographs to capture the complexity of their stories as they navigate wild mountain regions and a precarious visa situation.

 Sheep-herding has always been a dangerous, high alpine job with limited appeal for many seeking work. As a result, most sheep herders have long been immigrants, originally from Europe, often Basque Country, and now primarily from South America. 

The current H-2A visa program adds risk to their already dangerous job. Visas are tied to specific employers, giving ranchers leverage over their shepherds. Since ranchers must pay to get workers and the workers often bribe their way into a job, that leverage is magnified with debt. 

Some ranchers take undue advantage of the situation, exploiting their workers at or beyond the limits of the law. For decades, pay was pegged at $750 per month. After years of fighting in court, it was recently raised to $1200 for the 24/7 job. Ranchers claim that they can’t afford to raise wages, particularly after years of decline in the industry has eroded generations of narrow profit margins.

There have been a handful of published stories, mostly in small publications, but none have gone beyond a short interview with sheepherders and none incorporate significant photography. I want to dive beyond the basic facts of shepherd life that have already been shared and into intimate moments and emotions.

 To do so, I will visit shepherds throughout 2017, spending days at a time talking with them and photographing their lives. I expect to spend between two weeks and a month total, broken up throughout the year, in the backcountry. The end goal is a documentary photo essay to build empathy and understanding with some of our most vulnerable neighbors. 

I expect this grant to support the beginning of a multi-year project that dives deeply into the economy of sheep, building relationships and a body of work with shepherds and also with ranchers. In the long run, I want to build a body of work that paints a rich portrait of the modern sheep industry.”

Anton Viditz-Ward
Project Title: “Professional Development, Aluminum Welding Training”
Project Description:

“I am seeking a grant for professional development to expand my skills in aluminum welding. My skills in steel welding are extensive (24 years) with structural certification and extensive pipe welding experience which translates over to my artistic work as a sculptor. I have very limited knowledge of aluminum welding and would like to expand my skills in this medium. There are two welding teachers in the Telluride area that I worked with in the past and would like to learn from again. Refining my skills in aluminum welding will allow me to work with another medium and expand my artistic work.”

Clarissa Fortier
Project Title: “Stratified: Layers of Love in the Fight for Indian Creek”
Project Description:

“The project we are proposing combines the work of painter Clarissa Fortier and emerging artist Joanna Spindler. We are requesting a grant that would give us the resources to commemorate Indian Creek through a series of works ranging from prose and writing to large landscape oil paintings. Our work examines the layers of Indian Creek in centuries past and beckons viewers to consider Indian Creek as a sacred place worth protecting.

 As avid climbers, we have spent ample time in Indian Creek living and breathing a certain kind of lifestyle focused on climbing. But as artists, we want to celebrate the nuance and beauty of this wild land in a way that goes beyond the definition of Indian Creek as a center for traditional rock climbing. Our desire to commemorate Indian Creek through artwork comes at a pivotal time in which, despite Indian Creek belonging to the Bears Ears National Monument, Utah officials are threatening its continued protection under this act. Utah governor Gary Herbert recently signed a resolution challenging the monument. If President Trump accepted his resolution, the fate of Indian Creek and other culturally important land designated under Bears Ears would be left to Utah as a state to decide. State control over this land would most likely favor the development of oil rigs and other profitable enterprises. 

The artist Verne Dawson writes, ‘If you have something important to say, then make people want to engage with it; make it beautiful, so they will spend time with it.’ We want the residents of Telluride to spend time with Indian Creek. The end of May is our deadline for producing a show that contains our body of work because we believe that the fight for Bears Ears is urgent. Rallying support for the land that is so sacred to many is of utmost importance in today’s unpredictable political climate, and art is one medium through which we can make a statement.”

Colleen Thompson
Project Title: “Colleen Thompson Professional Development Grant”
Project Description:

Jewelry by Colleen Thompson

“2016 was a year of dramatic change for my art, and it was a tiny trunk show at Gallery 81435 that started it all. I’ve wanted to be a professional jeweler for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until I did my first gallery trunk show, with a small collection of feather and crystal jewelry at Gallery 81435, that I truly identified my deep desire to create gallery quality jewelry out of Sterling Silver.
Subsequently, 2016 was the year I created and shared my very first collection of Silver Precious Metal Clay jewelry with the Telluride Community. This was made possible by a Small Grant for Artists from Telluride Arts, which I am deeply grateful for. It gave me the opportunity to create something I am truly proud of, and to inspire others to do the same. Sharing my work recently at Telluride Arts HQ Gallery is something I will cherish for a long time to come.

This year, I intend continue my journey into becoming a professional jeweler by attending a two part intensive course in Metal Smithing at the Denver School of Metal Arts to further broaden my technique. These two classes, Metal Smithing I & II, are each 30-hour, comprehensive courses in traditional metalwork. I feel strongly that taking the time to learn these fundamental skills in jewelry making is essential to furthering my work. Receiving Certificates of Completion for each of these classes will also open doors for me to apply for more competitive, juried shows and other professional opportunities. I would like to request funds to cover the cost of these two courses.”

Danielle Jenkins and Stephanie Osan
Project Title: “Short Dance Documentary”
Project Description:

Danielle & Stephanie explore the relationship between woman artists and wild spaces.

“We intend to make a short documentary film that explores site-specific dance, the inner workings of a team of women artists, and the relationship between artists and wild spaces. Our experiences have shown there is a particular magic that comes from women artists working together across mediums for a common goal. In building a dance performance together, the creative journey is as interesting and valuable as the end product. Over the course of three days spent in the studio and in the desert, our team will film the creation and performance of an original dance piece. The film will document that journey and explore the unique dynamic that has grown organically within the blossoming dance community in Telluride. As project directors, we will recruit and manage a team of dancers and artistic collaborators, scout locations for rehearsals and shooting, and work as co-directors with our cinematographer/editor Carly Salter. 

Making work for a particular space offers constraints that influence the work in unexpected, creative ways. This pushes us as choreographers and dancers into new concepts, approaches, and work. Site-specific work draws on the legacy of Earthworks and performance art traditions of using the artist’s body to explore and interpret spaces they inhabit. Creating dance for film will challenge us to build and think about dance in a different way, one for broad distribution that reaches outside of an in-person experience. This is a particularly important time to make work in and about public land and wild spaces. It is equally timely to tell a story of the power of women coming together as artists. 

The documentary will lend insight to our processes and experiences for audiences. It will also serve as a self-inquiry for those involved, an opportunity to take a closer look at our struggles, successes, and growth as dancers in Telluride and citizens of this place. This represents an exciting opportunity to do something fun, fresh and out of the comfort-zone of the dancers and artists in our community.”

Elissa Dickson
Project Title: “Hoop Dreams”
Project Description:

Elissa Dickson, San Miguel Poet Laureate, head of adult programming at the Wilkinson Public Library, wins a grant.

“I like to think if my shy, bookworm, and very Tomboy 3rd grade self could see me now, she would be impressed. Extremely surprised, but impressed nonetheless. Recently, I hooped in wedge-heeled boots and a bikini as a model in the Telluride Aids Benefit. In August, as county poet laureate I stood in front of a packed room at Glider Bob’s memorial delivering a poem in his honor. Yes, 3rd grade Elissa would be impressed and a little bewildered as to how she got here.

I have lived in Telluride for eight years and have fallen more and more in love with the arts community with each passing year. The bumper sticker ‘Came to ski; stayed for the library,’ truly describes my life, in the sense that the library to me represents the local year-round community that has captured my heart. And it is but one axis of the incredible arts wheel turning gracefully in this box canyon. I have had the honor of working with many of the other outstanding arts organizations that make up that wheel as well.

Prior to moving to Telluride, I had never performed formally on stage, though I had performed with campers as a camp counselor at my camp’s talent show numerous times. Prior to moving to Telluride, I had never written a slam poem, though I had written a Harry Potter version of Dante’s Inferno, with accurate rhyme scheme, for the one professor who gave me a creative option in a critical writing class at University of Michigan. Prior to moving to Telluride, I had never done more than hula-hoop in elementary school gym class, though I had always loved to dance for fun. Prior to moving to Telluride, my years had instead been filled with sports and academics. In short, Telluride has allowed me to blossom as a performing artist in ways I never could have imagined.

People often ask where I learned to write poetry and to hoop and are surprised to hear I’ve never taken formal classes in either discipline. I have been extremely lucky to have several wonderful local mentors; Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer for poetry and Laura Idema for hooping. Furthermore, I have enjoyed the challenge of learning mostly through a combination of YouTube inspiration, trial and error, and a carefree willingness to just ‘give it a whirl’ (pun intended). However, I am hungry, ravenous even, for the opportunity to connect with real humans who have also devoted their life to slam poetry and hooping.

‘The National Poetry Slam is the annual poetry slam championship tournament, wherein four-to five-person teams from all over North America gather to compete against each other for the national team title. The week-long festival is part championship tournament, part poetry summer camp, and part traveling exhibition. NPS is the largest performance poetry event in the world… In addition to the tournament, the event offers expert workshops and side events including the Haiku Slam, Nerd Slam, open mics that celebrate identity, and many other inclusive and welcoming performance spaces present opportunities for the local community of writers and audiences to participate,'(NPS website).

In its 28th year, it will be taking place in Denver, CO for the first time. 

‘Hoopcamp is the largest annual hooping community in the world, this year back at our dream location: Camp Campbell…Hoopers from around the world come together every year at Hoopcamp to share, connect, learn, and celebrate the hoop as a truly transformational tool for creative self-expression,'(Hoopcamp website).

A number of the visiting instructors are my hoop heroes whom I have followed on YouTube extensively

Together, NPS and Hoopcamp would provide a natural and essential next step for me as a performing artist. The benefits of both trainings would be three-fold: grow as a performance artist, network with the national slam poetry and hooping communities, respectively, and learn cutting-edge techniques for teaching both of these disciplines. Moreover, both events have a notable ‘summer camp’ vibe to them, which suits my learning style perfectly. Having been a camp counselor for six summers, camp-like settings are where I thrive. In fact, Camp Campbell is even a YMCA camp for most of the year, which is the kind of camp I worked at for four summers!”

Emma Gross
Project Title: “Wishcraft”
Project Description:

“The studio album, ‘Wishcraft’features eight original songs composed and produced by myself and recorded with the assistance of local sound engineer Brett Neuman. Collectively, the tracks aspire to evoke a feeling of forgiveness, unconditional love and connection by way of angst, tension and uncertainty. With ‘Wishcraft,’ I invite the listener to experience a variety of emotions in order to release negativity and emerge stronger—with a more humane and empathic view of themselves and the world. The album encourages us to navigate through and embrace turbulence, rather than circumnavigate our issues in order to expedite our personal/societal evolution. It reminds us that we are imperfect, yet grants that there is beauty in our imperfections—raising the question: Are our shortcomings and imperfections necessary components of a flawless cosmic plan? With ‘Wishcraft, ‘I hope to incite mindfulness of these shortcomings with the intention of instigating change through unconditional love and imagination. I aim to encourage listeners to use their imaginations to envision and manifest peace—both internally and externally. By imagining and instilling inner peace, the listener should become more able to create a better life (for themselves and others) thus mastering the art of ‘Wishcraft.'”

Flair Robinson
Project Title: “Experimental Applications Using Epoxy Resin and Clay”
Project Description:

“The past year was a big year for me. I worked non-stop for 12 months and pushed myself harder than I ever have before. When you work that hard and you are finally able to complete all that was promised, it can be a bit disorienting to begin the next chapter. I woke up on New Year’s Day, 2017, with a lot of questions about where I wanted to go next. The thing that stood out most in my mind was a strong need to do some experimentation with new materials and mediums and to take some classes (the perfect thing to jump-start my new year).

 I would like to incorporate more handmade, 3-dimensional elements into my mixed-media mosaics and art installations. I have a strong interest in learning how to create molded epoxy resin pieces with embedded elements. I would also like to learn how to create dimensional glazed ceramic tiles to put into my ceramic mosaics. I believe that exploring these two new mediums would help to take my work to the next level and also, help me to find my new creative vision.”

Matthew Adams
Project Title: Project: “Matt Adams Professional Advancement Grant”
Project Description:

Sculpture, Matt Adams


Work by Matt Adams

“I am a devoted and passionate ceramic sculptor. Although I have exhibited my work over the years on a limited scope, I intend to advance my professional development as an artist to the next level. Recently, I was accepted into the prestigious and nationally renowned Cherry Creek Arts Festival in the Emerging Artists category. This incredible opportunity takes place over the July 4th weekend in downtown Denver, CO. The event is a world-class and award-winning celebration with an attendance of 350,000 visitors, featuring internationally juried visual artists. Thus far I have created 6 large-scale ceramic sculptures that will be going into the show. My goal is to make 4 to 5 additional extraordinary works to be included. Hence, I will create and finish at least 1 sculpture every month. This grant funding will allow me to purchase materials to create and fire these sculptures, to purchase materials to build quality pedestals and other enhancing display supports, as well as help me fund travel expenses. My booth and display will be striking and unique, representing my artistic skill and excellence. My goal is to present myself and my work in the most professional manner possible with the intention of attracting collectors and high-end gallery owners. I hope to gain both recognition and press for my innovative and creative work, build connections, gain invaluable advice from other successful artists, and represent the Telluride Arts community.”

Sean Mahoney

Project Title: “’The Invincible Three’ – Support for a Staged Reading”
Project Description:

“’The Invincible Three’ is a new cowboy rock musical centered around origin of Butch Cassidy and the robbery of The Bank of Telluride in 1889; I am writing the book, music, and lyrics. Nathan Scherich at the Palm Theater has graciously offered me the Palm Black Box for a staged reading (7-8 actors at music stands with a small band), as well as space to rehearse in the dance studio leading up to the reading. My goal for the reading is to hear the whole piece out loud and to engage the Telluride community in its growth and development. I hope Telluride Arts would consider helping to underwrite the reading – to help pay local talent for their time and effort in putting the piece up.”

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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