Multiple dimensions of local art will adorn Routt County’s new Health and Human Services building

This textile piece called "Sea of Clouds" by Wendy Kowynia features natural indigo dye and watercolor pigment that is both "subtle and magical."
Routt County/Courtesy photo

The creativity of nearly two-dozen local artists will be featured in Routt County’s new Health and Human Services building, with works ranging from paintings to textiles and even some three-dimensional designs.

Initial plans hoped to feature five to 10 pieces of art in the building, but County Purchasing Director Julie Kennedy said they received nearly 50 submissions. In partnership with Steamboat Creates, those were whittled down to 12 creations to be displayed in public spaces in the new building.

The theme for the art was the human condition in a contemporary way, which went along with the purpose of the building itself, which will house the county’s Public Health and Human Services Departments.

“We didn’t necessarily want just pictures of people and holding hands and things of that nature,” said Kim Keith, executive director of Steamboat Creates. “We really pushed our local artists to dig deeper into what they defined as human condition.”

The pieces will be featured in public places in the building, with some of the pieces fitting along with where they are placed.

One photograph taken along the popular trail Flash of Gold by Cyndi Marlowe called “Ascend” will be placed near the stairs, while several dragonflies created by Denise Bohart Brown and Sandy Graves with bronze and glass will be hung in the main atrium, where the sun can reflect off of them.

“It will really be very visible,” Kennedy said of the dragonflies, which people will be able to view when they walk in, on their way up the stairs and from the second floor.

The concept presented from Steamboat Springs School District art teachers would combine individual works from every fifth grader into a larger piece.
Routt County/Courtesy photo

On the second floor will be a large creation put together by fifth graders at Steamboat elementary schools that will include 170 ceramic tiles with all types of different faces. Sleeping Giant School art teacher Erin Branscum said the project works well because it allows them to work collaboratively while also being at multiple schools.  

“Each student creates their own kind of identity piece that is going to be small, but together it makes a big large piece that will be connected once they’re put together,” Branscum said.

Some of the pieces will be placed on a wall, but are still three-dimensional. Julie Anderson, a local ceramic artist, will create sculptures of aspen tree trunks that are held together with ceramic buttons or zippers.

Artist Jill Anderson submitted this concept drawing of her piece titled “Shaped by Our Environment.”
Routt County/Courtesy photo

“It sits on the wall, but it breaks the boundaries of that two-dimensional piece,” Keith said.

Another piece that breaks those boundaries is a combination of painting and woodworking put together by Madeleine Burrough and David Winters. A concept for the work “transports you to a potter’s shed,” with life-size painted seedlings being perched on real wood shelves next to tools hanging on the wall — some painted and some made of wood.

“The tools in the shed are a metaphor to the tools this building will provide its visitors,” Burrough and Winters wrote in their submission. “This will be painted realistically with shadow to create an optical illusion as to look three-dimensional.”

Wendy Kowynia will include two of her textile pieces in the building that are three-dimensional too, with the cloth hanging off of bars mounted on the wall.

“You feel the presence of the hand in these works,” Kowynia wrote in the submission. “There is something about these textiles that feel innately human. They make us feel safe and protected.”

Some of the art includes the work of printmaker Jill Bergman, with a pair of prints called “The Mother Earth” and a trio of prints called “The Caretakers.” Bergman, who created the art for Routt County’s COVID-19 awareness posters, said in her submission that both pieces showed the connection between humans and the natural world.

Two pieces from local printmaker Jill Bergman that will be included in Routt County’s new Health and Human Services building entitled “The Mother Earth.”
Routt County/Courtesy photo

Another set of 16 prints from Chloe Wilwerding called “Containers of Knowledge,” hope to explore what it means to be human in a holistic approach and combines several different materials.

Artist Simone White will create a series of panels that reflect growth and healing that is part of being human using acrylic and watercolors.

“My work is vibrant and lighthearted but also encourages self reflection and inner healing,” White wrote in her application. “My goal is to create pieces that are thought provoking and also pleasant to view.”

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