Steamboat Creates continues to celebrate Western Heritage Month with special Artwalk activities |

Steamboat Creates continues to celebrate Western Heritage Month with special Artwalk activities

Left to right, cowgirls Cregan Ortner, Kristin Esper, Andrea Sponseller and Briana Bailey participate in Steamboat Springs' Fourth of July parade several years ago. Western Heritage Month will be celebrated in a series of events, classes and tours through September.
Courtesy/Therese M. Collins Shelesky

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — One piece of Friday’s First Friday Artwalk won’t be contained in a single gallery or even a single evening. 

Steamboat Creates will continue celebrating Western Heritage Month with several activities across town, starting at 4:30 p.m. with art, live music, beverages and the presence of cowboys and cowgirls at RiverView, between Third and Fifth streets along the Yampa River. Several other live performances, ranging from dance to music to a “selfie-with-a-cowgirl station,” are sure to bring more activity to an already-lively Friday evening along Lincoln Avenue. 

Several Artwalk staples across downtown carry the Western heritage theme: 

• Pine Moon Gallery, at 117 Ninth St., features “Heading West,” a collaborative exhibit by 14 local artists in acrylic, bronze, graphite, glass, jewelry, oil, paper, photography, printmaking, textile and watercolor.

• Jace Romick Gallery and R Diamond Gallery, at 833 Lincoln Ave. and 837 Lincoln Ave., showcase aspects of local ranching with a contemporary Western aesthetic.

• The Depot Arts Center, at 1001 13th St., features Riverwalk Collective’s show, “Into the Wild West,” and Steamboat Creates’ “Western Heritage” group show. 

Alongside the street events and gallery exhibits, a tiny cowboy atop his horse ushers his trio of cattle forward, but none of them ever take a step. They’re bronze, set on a wooden base, and they’re called “The Spirit Endures.” These maquettes, or sculptor’s small-scale, preliminary models of the full-sized statue, were created by Curtis Zabel and will be on display at the Transit Center. The project was spearheaded by Steamboat Springs’ John and Wanda Busch.

“It was said that there once were, for every blade of grass in Steamboat, two cows here,” Steamboat Creates Development Director Dagny McKinley said. “These statues are to remind us of the transit center’s original purpose and history: to transfer cattle.”

Courtesy/Dagny McKinley

Western Heritage Month continues through September, with a brown bag storytelling series installment with Tread of Pioneer Museum; a whiskey tasting at Steamboat Whiskey Co.; a one-day historical painting workshop with Chula Beauregard and Tread of Pioneers Museum at the historic Mesa School House; historical walking tours of downtown and the Tread of the Pioneers Museum; a local foods and beers Barn to Brewery dinner with the Community Ag Alliance and Butcherknife Brewing Co.; a pioneer picnic cooking workshop with Elkstone Farms; needlepoint classes and Western heritage-themed paint-and-sip classes at the Depot Arts Center; and more.

“It’s going to be a great month,” McKinley said.

See the full list of Western Heritage events and activities at

In terms of tributes to Western heritage, this is not Steamboat Creates’ first rodeo. 

The inspiration for the idea first came about when the organization was applying for its designation as a Certified Colorado Creative District. 

“One of the things that sets Steamboat apart is its Western heritage,” McKinley said. “That’s one of the pillars (of a potential creative district’s art taken into consideration during the application review process).”

The other five pillars, or creative economy enterprise sub-groups, are design, film and media, literary and publishing, performing arts and visual arts and crafts.

“(Heritage) is not one of the most intuitive disciplines you think of when you think of creativity,” McKinley said. “You’re much more likely to think of visual arts or performing arts, but heritage is just as important to who we are, and this is something we want to remember and continue to celebrate.”

Last year, the organization put on a Western Heritage Week from Sept. 17 to 21. 

“The feedback was that the events weren’t necessarily accessible to people who were working and the price point was high,” McKinley said. “The events this year will be much more accessible.” 

Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.