The Yampa Valley Curse, as seen through the eyes of artists
Steamboat Springs — In this enchanting valley, something gets ahold of each Steamboat Springs visitor who lays eyes on the impeccable beauty of the mountains and surrounding valleys.
For those who live here, they know call this spell of sorts “The Yampa Valley Curse.” It’s a “curse” that is cast on those who move here and find it impossible to move away. Or if they do move away, their absence doesn’t last long.
At the Depot Art Center, a group of local clay artisans created pieces that highlight the best aspects of summer in the Yampa Valley. A plethora of ceramic pieces are inspired by wildflowers, gardening, animals, outdoor sports, water, sun, mountains and so much more. Participating artists include Barb Gregoire, Jody Elston, Robert Hawks, Kathy Thayer, Deb Babcock, Julie Anderson, Colleen Owens, and Frank Bradley.
The inspiration for this particular show came from a group of artists sitting around a table— perhaps drinking a glass of wine or two — and realizing they should feature a few of things that each artist loves about Steamboat.
“We wanted it to be a cohesive and new work,” Babcock said. “We all just really love living here in Steamboat and then we camp up with the Yampa Valley Curse idea.”
With a whimsical yet functional style to each piece, Babcock described her work as more contemporary with bright colors. For a few of her pieces, she used a technique that captures the essence of Steamboat, literally. A few egg plates were even named “Devil’s Eggway” with a nod to the Devil’s Causeway hiking route.
With carving techniques, Gregoire’s work also was inspired by the natural world around her. Her pieces were derived from the comfort she feels each and every time she comes back from a hike and sees the grandeur of the Valley.
“When you come into the Valley, you feel like you are getting a big hug,” she said.
Each piece stands apart from the others and allows each artist’s personality to shine through.
“We love looking to see what everyone is up to and what they are doing,” Gregoire said. “It’s amazing to have that many people and that much variety in each of the pieces.”
Local artists’ shows allow individuals to indulge their curiosity and make a trip to the Depot to converse with the artists. Throughout the month of June, the Depot will be open on Saturdays and Sundays with the artists on hand to speak with people about the pottery pieces.
Gregoire and Babcock agreed that buying local, handmade pottery is not only affordable and functional, but it allows anyone to own a one-of-a-kind handmade piece of art.
“There is such talent here in the Valley, and there is a lot of pottery out there that is manufactured,” Babcock said. “But handmade pottery is just so different. I mean you can tell with each of these pieces. You see the hands of the person who made it, and the work that went into it. They take so much care with it.”
The show will continue until the end of the month.
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The 20th anniversary season of Opera Steamboat will kick off this month with a new series, the “Variations Piano Series,” bringing world-class pianists from across the country to Steamboat Springs.