20 Under 40: Sista Luna enhances the Steamboat arts community
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — There’s a brunette whirlwind who’s been working behind the scenes in the Yampa Valley art world, and her name is Sista Luna. You don’t often hear about the young artist because she does her job too well.
“People only notice behind-the-scenes stuff when it doesn’t go well,” explained artist Megan Whykuis. “You don’t know all the things she’s done because she’s so on top of it, meticulous and well-organized.”
Luna is one of the co-founders of the Young Bloods Collective, created in 2016 for the younger generation of creatives. She’s credited by her peers with making art accessible to everyone in the Yampa Valley, especially shy folks who need a place to take their creative ideas.
“That’s very flattering,” said Luna upon learning of nomination for this year’s 20 Under 40 awards. But true, said fellow Young Bloods co-founder Brie Kole.
“A lot of what YBC and Sista do is just give people permission to ‘do the thing,’” Kole said. “I believe she does it because she wants to make this community a better place, creatively. Volunteering her time and expertise is a way she can ensure it happens.”
Luna moved to Steamboat Springs from Denver five years ago after visiting a friend and falling in love with the mountains. Although it’s a small town, she was excited that Steamboat had an established art scene. She soon connected with other young artists and started to build a network.
Name: Sista Luna
Profession: Artist, nanny and co-founder of Young Bloods Collective
Education: Bachelor of Arts in studio art, Colorado College
“In my experience, creative growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The ‘lone creative artist’ isn’t really a thing,” Luna said. “It’s important to be in contact with other people, get feedback and get inspired. In the real world you have to create that community.”
Kole said Luna’s volunteer hours each year go above and beyond the call of duty. Through Young Bloods Collective, Luna has helped establish the popular Speak series, which has women performing in poetry, songs or writings for the public. She has also helped Young Bloods members establish their own gallery in the Ski Locker at 941 Lincoln Ave. downtown. And one of her favorite projects has been Booths at the Barley, basically a farmers market for artists at the popular downtown bar.
“Once a month they let us turn half their space into an artisan market, so our members can sell their work and people can browse with a beer,” Luna said. “It’s a stepping stone for members — a way for artists to put their toe in the water.”
Although Luna doesn’t get paid for all the numerous projects she’s made happen behind the scenes, she said it’s worth it when she sees an artist flourish.
She remembers one friend who sketched landscapes but never put her art out there until she came to a Young Bloods Collective Crit (critique) session.
“She got some awesome feedback and got that extra push,” Luna said. “She went from just sketchbooks to now sending her prints internationally via the internet.”
Luna is known for her pen and ink drawings, especially of pets, and is now working with abstract painting. Her work can be found at Young Bloods Collective galleries and on Etsy, which includes her endearing “tiny stars,” which are handmade and filled with an uplifting message. They’re made for anyone from guests at weddings or baby showers to families dealing with illnesses.
“I gave friends stars years ago, and they only pull one out when they really need it,” Luna said.
Luna also hosts a podcast with her friends called “Wait, You Haven’t Seen That!?” where they analyze a popular movie that one of them has never seen.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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