Steamboat’s West Side Creatives host first open studio tour |

Steamboat’s West Side Creatives host first open studio tour

From left, Kayt Gary, Heidi Theis, Julie Anderson and Kayleen Cohen participate in unloading the glowing hot raku kiln at Warehome Studios.
Julie Anderson

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs’ west side has long been home to creative endeavors, including ceramics, painting, photography, printmaking and framing, as well as culinary arts and brewing. Much of that has taken place behind closed doors — until now.

The first-ever West Side Creatives Tour takes place Saturday, Aug. 17. Community members are invited to visit 15 local studios and spaces and experience a range of behind-the-scenes artistic processes. 

West Side Creatives is a Copper Ridge-area collective of artists and businesses that employ creatives, with the mission to galvanize and promote the west side of Steamboat as a creative hub. 

“I think people drive by (this area) and they see warehouses, but there’s really a lot going on in there,” said printmaker and painter Maggie Smith. 

The collective includes Element Print and Design, Lone Oak Studio, Butcherknife Brewing Co., Oehme Graphics, Abby Jensen Photography, Sandi Poltorak Fine Art, Maggie Smith Fine Art, Susan Schiesser, Jennifer Baker Glass Art, Sacred Resource/Elk River Knives, Steamboat Frame Works, Warehome Studios, Bill Sanders Clay, Kim Keith Fine Art Photographer and Storm Peak Brewing Co. 

“We want to show there’s this little pocket of creativity over here and bring some spotlight to it,” Smith said.

Attendees who visit every studio and business on the West Side Creatives’ map will walk between 1 1/2 and 2 miles, according to Smith. 

“It’s a lot of fun to see the little treasures in the studios that don’t necessarily make it to the gallery,” she said.

In her studio, which she shares with four other artists, Smith will have two hands-on demonstrations available for anyone who wants to try oil painting on a canvas and monotyping with small plates. 

Hot pottery coming out of the raku kiln around 1,800 degrees at Warehome Studios.
Julie Anderson

“I think we all have creativity in us, and going into galleries or studios sparks that and gets you thinking about what you would do and moves that along,” Smith said.

Master printer Susan Hover Oehme and assistants will be offering the opportunity for attendees to try their hand at watercolor printing and drypoint printing, in which an image is incised onto a plate with a hard-point needle. 

“Different from First Friday Art Walk, this tour really focuses on the ‘maker’ part of it,” Oehme said. “It’s much more about the doing and the process, instead of the final product.” 

If you go

What: West Side Creatives Tour
When: 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17
Where: Copper Ridge area on the west side of Steamboat Springs

While the collective has no single official leader, many artists in the group point to Julie Anderson, of Warehome Studios, as the group’s organizer.

Anderson and her team of assistants will host several ceramics demonstrations, including slipcasting, or pouring liquid clay into a mold; wheel-throwing; hand-building; and most notably, raku firing, in which ceramic pots — glowing red-hot at 1,800 degrees — are taken out of a propane-fired kiln and immediately placed into a covered can full of sawdust. Inside the can, the pots ignite, and 30 minutes later, the pieces are removed, looking entirely different.

“The atmosphere inside the can creates all these unusual effects on the clay — rainbows, crackled surfaces and all these interesting combinations,” Anderson said. 

The raku-fired pieces will be ready for purchase during the tour.

A map for the West Side Creatives tour, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019 in Steamboat Springs.
Courtesy/West Side Creatives

“With raku firing, you get a pretty immediate result, which is unusual for ceramics,” Anderson noted. 

Proceeds from the sales will support scholarships to Warehome Studios classes for students who couldn’t otherwise afford to take them. Warehome Studios offers classes for children and adults in wheel pottery, clay building and more. 

Greg Grasso, who’s on the glass and stonework side of Warehome Studios, will be doing a glass-cutting and layout demonstration. 

Throughout the tour, locations will offer snacks, drinks and music. 

“We’ve been talking about doing this tour for about two years now,” Anderson said. “It’s a really good group of people.”

She said that when Colorado Creative Industries brings its annual summit to Steamboat in 2020, a goal of West Side Collective will be to participate in the summit tour of the city’s arts scene. 

The tour takes place from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, in the Copper Ridge area.

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

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