SAM celebrates 10th anniversary with art retrospective |

SAM celebrates 10th anniversary with art retrospective

Ghost trees are still hanging out along Sundown Lift at Steamboat Resort.
Jeff Hall

If you go:

What: Opening reception for Steamboat Art Museum's 10th anniversary exhibit When: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2

Where: Steamboat Art Museum, 801 Lincoln Ave.

The Steamboat Art Museum opens up its latest exhibit Dec. 2 during First Friday Artwalk, showing pieces and artists who’ve been featured during the last 10 years.
Frances Hohl

— The only fine arts museum in Northwest Colorado celebrates its 10th anniversary this month with a stunning display of its past shows rolled up into one big exhibit. And it’s right here in Steamboat Springs.

“We brought back artists that have been part of the 30 exhibits we’ve done over a 10-year period,” said photographer Rod Hanna, president of the Steamboat Art Museum (SAM) board.

In the latest exhibition put on by SAM, visitors coming into the museum are met by stunning pieces of Russian art borrowed from a private collection here in town.

Fans of SAM will also recognize other pieces and artists from the past 10 years including wildlife artist Ken Carlson, plein air painters Jean Perry and Scott Christensen and western artists John Fawcett and Jim Norton.

“We’ve had some incredible one-man retrospectives … high quality contemporary artists that are basically living Masters,” said Shirley Stocks, curator and a co-founder of the art museum. “We’re bringing in exhibits that much larger museums are showing as well.”

And SAM is only going to get better.

Next year, the museum is starting a $600,000 historical renovation that will double the exhibition space at the old Rehder building at Ninth and Lincoln. It will also free up space for more artist lectures, workshops and demonstrations.

“Our curator Shirley (Stocks) already has the National Show of Oil Painters of America scheduled for 2018 and the National Show of American Women Artists scheduled for 2019,” said SAM Executive Director Betse Grassby.

“If you’ve seen what they’ve done in 10 years with the museum, imagine what it’s going to be when this is all open,” said Grassby during a tour of the old historic building where beautiful old beams, once hidden, are now being exposed.

The museum isn’t the only part under renovation. The little store that helps support the museum has been undergoing changes with new manager Susie Pace.

The old bank teller windows that blocked part of the store have been brought down so that customers can see merchandise and browse more freely, Pace said. The once all-volunteer staff now has a paid manager, and the store hours are finally consistent — 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

“Everyone loves coming in here,” Pace said. “About 80 percent of our work is from local and Colorado artists. We get great support from the community.”

In the meantime, Grassby, volunteers and board members are working fiercely to get the 10th anniversary exhibit on the walls.

“It’ll be up during all of ski season, and on the first weekend of February, we’ll have a gala with a number of the artists here,” Hanna said.

Meanwhile, Grassby, ignoring Hanna’s modesty, excitedly pointed out that the talented photographer will be featured in the show with other local artists.

“This is a very special wall,” Grassby said, pointing out a wall of art filled with photography, pencil drawings and paintings. “When you read our history it talks about a group of artists and art lovers who got together in 2006 to create this museum. This is all work done by people that created the museum … Linda Hamlet, Robert Dieckhoff, Rod Hanna, Shirley Stocks…”

The museum’s 10th anniversary exhibit will host its opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 2 during First Friday Artwalk.

“I’d like people to come away with the feeling that even though this is a small town, they can still view very high-quality art you’d not normally see in a small town.”

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