Steamboat Springs Center for Visual Arts to close doors and reopen as Cross Currents Gallery
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Longtime local and burgeoning art force Linda Laughlin grew up in Pennsylvania at a time when a woman wasn’t meant to have a career.
“My father was a lumber salesman and my mother was a principal’s secretary, but they told me something that’s stuck with me even today,” Laughlin said.
“They told us, ‘Whatever you put your mind to, you can do it,’ they believed in us,” she continued. “I never felt that there was anything I could do that would be a mistake because I had the confidence I could do it.”
Now, Laughlin is instilling this same prudence to a group of artists she’s cultivated over the past decade to create the new Cross Currents Gallery.
From a career owning an ad agency and art gallery on the East Coast, Laughlin moved to Steamboat in 2003 and launched a variety of art endeavors like the hugely popular First Friday Artwalk, along with co-founder Sandra Sherrod in 2007, which is still a popular event each first Friday of the month with a wide variety of work and galleries throughout downtown.
In 2009, Laughlin founded the Steamboat Springs Center for Visual Arts, a space for emerging artists, some who had neither shown in a gallery before nor did they know the business side of running a gallery or marketing their own work.
“If it hadn’t been for her dream to give a place for emerging artists to come forward, I don’t know how many of us would be here today,” said Marion Kahn, painter and jewelry designer who has been one of the artists coordinating the transition.“It’s so important to have a place to show your work.”
On Sept. 7, the Center for Visual Arts will shut its doors and open anew as Cross Currents Gallery, the new for-profit entity run by a group of 13 artists.
Growing what was already started at the Center for Visual Arts, Cross Currents was inspired by the idea that whenever the Yampa River and Green River — with two different temperatures — come together, there’s a unique mix that takes place creating something extraordinary.
“We are individual artists with individual styles, but how we come together to create something unique that speaks to people’s hearts, that’s what this gallery is all about,” Kahn said.
The new gallery plans to have 13 visual artists and two three-dimensional artists, mainly local with a few from out of town.
While there will still be a board of directors, Kahn said throughout the transition the artists have been able to take on leadership and overseeing the management of the gallery by working together, asking questions and giving input.
“We’ve had a wonderful 10 years supporting over 200 artists that have come through our doors over one time or another. We now look forward with excitement as our mature core group of artists take the next step and enter into a full service gallery of their own.”
The new Cross Currents Gallery will occupy the front section of the existing Center for Visual Arts gallery at 837 Lincoln Ave.
“It was an exciting period in the arts community back then — the CVA provided a much needed service because there were many artists at the time in Steamboat that needed a ‘home,’” said Al Reiner, photographer who has been associated with the gallery since 2009.
“Linda’s lasting legacy is not only that she created an entity that supported early career artists, but moreover, her personality touched the lives of several hundred artists and that wave will continue into the future for decades to come,” Kahn said.
“Back then, what was missing was an opportunity for all of these artists who were not collected together in one place, there was no common space,” Laughlin said. “I thought I could make something happen and it was because I love the art. I still do.”
Laughlin plans to stay involved with the local arts community, managing the new Linda Israel Signature Gallery and also continuing to organize and promote First Friday Artwalk.
“People ask me all the time, why dedicate 100 percent of your time to professionally manage and volunteer endless nights — I just believed in it,” Laughlin said. “I still believe in it.”
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It was a love story that brought Jason Erwin to Steamboat Springs from Nashville, Tennessee.