Artists gain insight during Carpenter Ranch residency |

Artists gain insight during Carpenter Ranch residency

Nicole Inglis
Amy Laugesen, of Denver, works at the Hayden Granary on her ceramic horses inspired by Hayden's rich quarter horse heritage.
Courtesy Photo

— At 5 feet tall and more than 40 feet long, Camille DiTrani’s rock art installation sits precariously in a dried creek bed at the Nature Conservancy’s Carpenter Ranch east of Hayden.

DiTrani, a retired jazz singer turned sculptor, spent the past month thoughtfully arranging the rocks into a piece that offers a middle ground between man-made interference — like the coal plant and hydraulic fracturing occurring nearby — and the Earth’s natural state.

“The piece speaks to seeking balance with all this industrialization that’s going on and nature. I would hope that when people look at it, it would inspire them to seek balance in their own lives,” DiTrani said.

As part of a monthlong artist residency, part-time Steamboat resident DiTrani, Denver’s Amy Laugesen and Sun Valley, Idaho’s Wendy Pabich explored their respective artistic mediums in depth at the picturesque ranch, where they also volunteered their time.

Sponsored by the Front Range-based Colorado Art Ranch, the program is in its fourth year of cultivating environment-based works of art and literature.

Art Ranch Executive Director Grant Pound said the arts are an integral part of communicating environmental concepts.

“I think what art does for us is it provides the emotional connection that you can’t get from statistics and facts and scientific reports,” Pound said. “It’s a way to reach people on a very visceral level. It gives us the chance to envision things that don’t yet exist, to look at different possibilities without being tied down to what’s always been done.”

The residency culminates this weekend with two events featuring the three artists. At 7 p.m. Thursday at the Bud Werner Memorial Library, Artposia will offer a free evening of discussion on the three artists’ work as it relates to the theme of “Art + Land/Water.”

On Saturday, the residency culminates with an art talk and barn dance at the Hayden Granary. For a $10 suggested donation, there will be an art discussion at 6:30 p.m. followed by country dance instruction and live music from Sundog.

The event celebrates the land and heritage of the Hayden area, something that Laugesen has been exploring through her raku ceramic horses.

Laugesen, who did the residency in 2010, returned to the Yampa Valley this summer to continue her sculpture project based on the rich quarter horse heritage she’s unearthed through her exploration of the Hayden community.

“It’s going a little more in depth,” she said about her second Colorado Art Ranch residency. “There’s so many more stories in connecting with the community, and having that thread … it’s amazing how many people have had a connection to (quarter horses) whether it’s themselves or ancestors.”

Pabich, a scientist specializing in geology, hydrology and conservation, used her time at the ranch to explore her artistic endeavors of painting and writing. Her new book, “Talking on Water: How One Water Expert Challenged Her Inner Hypocrite, Reduced Her Water Footprint (without Sacrificing a Toasty Shower), and Found Nirvana,” came out while she was in the Yampa Valley, and she began her book tour here.

“In my book, for me as a scientist and an engineer, it’s sort of stepping outside of that silo and being a scientist and using other ways to communicate,” she said.

In her paintings, Pabich spent time this month exploring portrayals of land and water through intuitive and abstract paintings.

“It’s just so nice to have a break and to sort of divorce yourself from all the other things that pull on you in your life,” she said.

When the artists leave after this weekend, their mark will remain.

DiTrani’s sculpture will stay in the creek bed, but she doesn’t expect it to maintain its current form. Neither in nature nor humanity is balance equated with permanence.

“Just like in nature, a creek bed will change and alter, and these things will come out of balance,” she said. “Maybe they will, maybe they won’t.”

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email

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