Colorado Art Ranch explores land use and artist residencies |

Colorado Art Ranch explores land use and artist residencies

Margaret Hair

Grant Pound, executive director of Colorado Art Ranch, plans to bring seven artists to Steamboat Springs to create works loosely related to land stewardship.

— In its second full year of existence, Colorado Art Ranch is trying to drum up some nomads.

Grant Pound, executive director for the month-long artist residency and symposium, said his last two programs have connected people from across Colorado and the West, uniting writers, painters, photographers and lecturers with a common theme.

This spring, Pound plans to bring that growing following to Steamboat Springs, where seven artists will live for one month, creating works loosely related to land stewardship. The program culminates in a weekend “artposium,” a series of lectures and workshops at the Nature Conservancy-owned Carpenter Ranch dubbed “Plains, Frames & Land Use Ideals.”

“We’re nomadic, so we don’t own any property,” Pound said.

All about the land

As the only employee of a nonprofit that has no definite connections to a place before he decides to host the residency there, Pound is a busy man. He’s working with an enthusiastic Steamboat arts community to tie up loose ends – locations for arts shows, housing and studio space – before his residents arrive toward the end of April.

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“I’ve been here a couple of times since (choosing Steamboat) and now we’re in that place of just trying to button things down,” Pound said.

Considering the program’s focus on land stewardship, Pound said Steamboat was a natural choice because of its ranching history and accelerating development.

“This whole thing is about the land – how we use the land, how we think about things related to the land. We always look at those things from a lot of different directions,” Pound said. “People are going to move here, and we need to look at these things seriously.”

Betsy Blakeslee, outreach manager for Carpenter Ranch, said she donated space for the Artposium and agreed to house two resident artists because she thinks the program’s theme is a good match with the Nature Conservancy’s mission.

“What we do encouraging stewardship of the land is exactly what their artists express through their various art forms,” Blakeslee said.

“It makes people more aware of all the different aspects – the visual aspects and the intellectual aspects – of viewing all the issues that people find interesting in land management,” she said.

Community connections

Pound is adamant that Art Ranch residents interact with the community that houses them and is working with local coordinator Beth Banning to set up an “art buddy” system. Each resident will be paired with a Steamboat local who will show him or her around town and make introductions to the arts community.

“We’re really serious about having the artists in residence be as much a part of the community as possible while they’re here,” Pound said. “I don’t like the idea of a residency where you come to town and do your work, and no one knows you were here.”

For the weekend Artposium, Pound has recruited lecturers from Steamboat and the rest of the country to talk about the intersection of land management, agricultural science and the arts.

“We’re really interested in the collaborative process of getting scientists and artists working together on an issue,” Pound said.

John Sant’Ambrogio, founder of Arts for the Soul and a concert cellist, is scheduled to lead a workshop about the relationship of a cello to the land.

“We’ll be talking about nature and using the arts coming from that terrain, and I’m going to stretch it into music and show the terrain of the cello,” Sant’Ambrogio said.

Other local connections include a workshop on creating sculptures from materials found in nature by Colorado Mountain College professor Joel Allen; an artists’ meet-and-greet at the Steamboat Art Museum; and a gallery show for resident artists Matthew Moore and Carrie Marill at K. Saari Gallery.

“I always support residencies. I think it’s fabulous for the artists,” Saari said.

Sant’Ambrogio said he supports any idea that brings attention to the arts in Steamboat Springs.

“Anything that shows what this place is, is absolutely great and I support them. I happen to believe in this city,” Sant’Ambrogio said.

Pound said the Art Ranch is based on a belief that the arts can be a catalyst for change in the world, and that it is not “just an artsy-fartsy organization.”

“I truly believe that art is what presages change in our society – that before you can realize something, you have to envision it,” Pound said.