Monday, November 29, 2010

12 Reasons Not to Give

The year is ending and with that comes the deluge of requests for donations. Non-profits know that many people wait until the end of the year to decide on their giving. We’ve received loads of pleas for gifts. They all have good reasons why we should give. You have probably heard many of these good reasons, but what about the reasons not to give? We’d like to present you with a dozen good reasons to not give to Colorado Art Ranch this year. If, after due consideration, you choose to contribute anyway, well, we’ll take it.

All the money goes to big salaries.

Yes, well, mama needs a new yacht. Lest we be lumped with Bernie Madoff and Bill Gates, we’ll make a full disclosure here:

2007 Executive Director Salary $15,000

Artposium Coordinators (2) $4,000

2008 Executive Director Salary $3,000

Artposium Coordinator $2,000

2009 $0

2010 Intern (5 months) $2,000

Colorado Art Ranch is a fly-by-night organization.

True, we do not own property and are almost always on the move, but we typically drive-by-day. Our director logs over 30,000 miles/year within the state of Colorado as he sets up residencies, Artposia, Saloon Salons, collaborations and future projects.

Colorado Art Ranch does not serve my community.

We do not serve every geographical community in Colorado. That would be cool, but not really feasible at this time. We do serve a community of thinkers who enjoy exploring the intersection of art, science and land/human issues.

The bastards didn’t give me a residency.

We wish we could offer more residencies to artists and scientists, but, alas, these are expensive. We are limited to offering space based on the number of bedrooms we can rent. We have served over 60 artists-in-residence so far. Our acceptance rate is consistent with the 300 residencies in the US (about 13%).

The Artposia is rarely or never in my town.

Our records indicate that our audience rarely comes from the host community. The Artposia rely on audience support to pay for space, yummy food, great speakers and thoughtful workshops. We have lost money on six out of seven Artposia. Our accountant has suggested that this may not be sustainable. We have started a new program called Saloon Salon to build up audiences in local communities. When we have support, we can bring the Artposium to a community.

NPR gives me a coffee cup if I donate.

Hmmm, we don’t want to be left out here. Tell you what, anybody who donates $100 or more can get a free coffee cup. We have a nice one here that says Minneapolis Police Department on it. It is thermal and leaks a bit from too many trips to the dishwasher, but it’s yours for the asking. We also have a few Webroot mugs.

I can’t figure out where the ranch is.

Good call. It doesn’t really show up on a map because its, well, virtual. The ranch is a metaphor for values such as land stewardship, connectedness to the land, helping family and neighbors, and thinking broadly.

Colorado Art Ranch is just another arts organization.

You looking for a fight? The second word in our name is Art and we promote the arts as a catalyst for change in the world. Art is not just what happens in a studio, museum or performance space. The whole world is engaged in art on some level. We want creative long-range thinking to be part of politics, schools, corporations, communities and nations.

I don’t get that mining thing

Hardrock Revision is different from our traditional residency and Artposium models. We will bring together people from the arts and other disciplines to explore uses for a shuttered gold mine. The local community will be very involved (since they own the outcome) and consideration will be given to heritage, recreation, tourism, safety, water quality, rural economic development and aesthetics.

There are a huge number of worthy causes out there.

Yup, we give to more than Colorado Art Ranch ourselves and think you should too. Some charities address immediate problems and have very tangible results; some may support a particular religion; some help with bigger picture ideas. Each individual should consider their own values and support those organizations that share those values.

Colorado Art Ranch does not own anything, why do they need money?

Actually, we do own a video camera and a cell phone. Our expenses are mostly travel and program. We have not invested much in fundraising or administration. We would like to be able to fund some staff positions so the organization can sustain itself. It’s pretty hard to hire someone and not offer a salary; job candidates tend to balk at that.

There is a recession on, so no sense giving until it’s over.

We hope it’s warm and dry in your cave. Our lives are going on now. Things will never be like they were (good, bad or indifferent) and we have to figure out the best ways for human beings to live on this planet with all its challenges. We are offering chances to think about issues from many viewpoints and to see how connected these issues are.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dr. Allan Comp and Jorie Emory Join the Hardrock Revision Project

Colorado Art Ranch is very excited to have Allan Comp join us as Guest Curator for the Hardrock Revision project in Lake City July 15-August 15, 2011. Allan holds a Ph.D in history, worked for several years in cultural resources with the National Park Service, left that to work as a developer of historic properties and consultant to historic preservation projects, and then to work for a regional Heritage Area in western Pennsylvania where he invented AMD&ART. Always a volunteer for AMD&ART, his work attracted the attention of other watershed and community improvement projects in the Appalachian coal country and in the Western hard rock mining country as well. Winner of multiple awards in partnerships and planning, Allan now leads the OSM/VISTA Team and Brownfields Initiatives at the Office of Surface Mining in the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Allan will be helping with project design, facilitation, publications and fundraising. He will be an active part of the team in Lake City.

Allan's development consultant, Jorie Emory, will also be joining the team. Jorie is very interested in the mix of art and ecology and wrote a masters thesis entitled: Exploring the Role of Artist Residencies on Local Land Stewardship: A Case Study of the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. She received her masters from Ohio State University. Jorie will help with writing grant proposals and will co-facilitate with Grant Pound in Lake City.

Colorado Art Ranch Director to Speak in Carlisle, UK

Grant Pound, founder and director of Colorado Art Ranch will speak at symposium in Carlisle, UK on Novembr 11, 2010. The symposium is designed to discuss the unique opportunities and challenges faced by creative enterprises and individual practitioners working outside the metropolis.

Modus Operandi Agrestis discusses rural innovation and models of working creatively outside the metropolis, and will bring together voices and experiences from organizations and individuals who have excelled or thrived outside the habitat of the big cities.

Discussing success and establishing best practice, USP and coping tactics for rural and non-metropolitan areas, this symposium will bring together specialists and practitioners from across the UK from a range of backgrounds, focusing on next step implementation of the creative and digital economy.

Grant’s talk, Miles From Nowhere: Nomadic Arts in the American West, will cover the activities of Colorado Art Ranch, as well as other observations about rural arts in Colorado.

Grant will also be talking to an artists group in Glasgow about artist residencies on the 13th of November.

If you would like a talk in your community email us. grant (at)

A Letter from Nomad Darlene Morse

 Dear members of the Clorado Art Ranch Board,

Once again I have realized the importance of the Art Ranch. This happens quite a bit but today it bubbled over and in order to clean up those bubbles, I must write you all.

As you are probably aware, two days ago a "crazed" woman used her crow bar to smash the Plexiglas covering of a lithograph at the Loveland Museum/Gallery.  She then tore the "offending" piece.

There has been controversy surrounding this artwork in the past week and I have been following it and even viewed the print. In today's Denver Post, Adam Lerner was quoted.  Ever since I met Adam at the Denver "What's So Funny About Art?" Artposium, I have kept up with his Belmar Art Lab and then with his move to the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. His words concerning the violence against art had a greater meaning for me because of getting to hear him speak two years ago.

From the very first Artposium I learned something that had previously eluded me although I wasn't even aware that it did:  there really is thought and introspection behind sculpture and "found objects" art. I remember listening in awe as three or four of the artists in residence told of how they came to create what they had created. Of course, I knew that artists create something that is a part of themselves and want to bring it into a life-sphere. But I had no clue that there was so much of a back story until that weekend in Salida.

And, again in Salida, three years later, Greg Hobbs taught me something. He had shared a poem entitled "Wed" with the whole group. I was very taken with this poem since soon after the Artposium, a friend of mine was getting married at age 40 and for the first time. I asked Greg if I could find that poem in one of his books and he said that it hadn't been published yet. He then surprised me by giving me the piece of paper that he had read from.  He wrote my name, his name and the date and that was it.  I then retyped it and gave it to my friends who were very moved by his words. A few weeks later, it came out that someone else had taken Greg's words but not exactly in a justified way. I immediately sent Greg a note saying that I did give him "full attribution" and he responded with the simple words, "Poetic courtesy."  Again, through Colorado Art Ranch, I am able to have a continuing experience.

Another example of the far-reaching effects of the Art Ranch is Joe Quirk. I bought his book and have lent it to so many people that I have lost count.  It has elicited several empowering discussions not only in my book club group but with myriad people of different minds. And, when Dr. Marci Bowers left Trinidad to move to San Francisco, I completely understood her reasoning and wished her success. I would not have had that reaction had I not heard her speak and talked with her a bit.

Last week, I was able to sit at a table for 15 minutes  and join in conversation with Salman Rushdie.  It was an incredible experience and I also know that it was made that much better by my having met numerous other art/writers/luminaries at Colorado Art Ranch functions. It is one thing to appreciate the work of writers/artists but it is quite another thing to be able to converse with them and then hear what they have to say, not only about their art but their world views. It is the taking of that step beyond the works and finding the values behind them that is so inspiring.

I have found that the Artposia has seeped into all parts of my being, from how I view eating, how I go about writing, how I felt strongly enough about an artist to commission him to do two paintings, to adding new red bottles on my bottle tree. Each time I write a poem I feel as if I am in harmony with the many other poets that have crossed my path these last three years.  And, in my kitchen tucked into a corner of a print of The Gates at Central Park, is a photo of Christo, Jean-Claude and me taken in Salida and printed in the Fort Collins Coloradoan. I feel much more involved in the issue of "Over the River" than I otherwise would.

Thanks, Art Ranch, for all you do.

Darlene Mueller Morse

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Importance of Food at an Artposita

By Beth Banning

I was asked to cater the lunch at the Artposita at the Carpenter Ranch on Saturday, September 25. I welcomed the opportunity as I have catered for Artposia before and the crowds are always enthusiastic and appreciative eaters! I felt very strongly that I needed to select ingredients in keeping with the spirit of the Carpenter Ranch, the Colorado Art Ranch, and the artists-in-residence who were experiencing such a strong connection to our Yampa Valley. I sought out local produce from the Ranch and local gardeners in Steamboat and Hayden who had an abundance and hoped to plan a menu around my finds. This proved difficult as we had experienced some below-freezing nights in the past week and most had slim-pickens left. Additionally, deer had pillaged my garden just the weekend before.

My first find was a 10-pound zucchini from Betsy Blakeslee at Carpenter Ranch from which came Chocolate Zucchini Bread. (Always start with chocolate!) Betsy also rounded up and armload of beets, carrots, onions, garlic from Karen Gilroy's garden in Hayden. All but the beets went into a spicy vegetarian chili with the addition of lots of tomatoes, beans and chilis. My artist friend, JoAnn Baker Paul, was visiting a mutual friend and artist, Sue Oehme, one evening before the Artposita and called me saying that I had to come and cut romaine lettuce and spinach that was overflowing from her backyard garden. The lettuce was for the salad that included the beets, as well as beautiful mixed greens from JoAnn's garden. I managed to squeak out scallions and baby beets from my garden which also went into the salad, along with gorgonzola cheese and walnuts. I made a frittata with eggs from JoAnn's backyard hens, Sue's spinach and cherry tomatoes from my lone remaining plant that were dehydrated for intense flavor.

Dessert included Peach Vanilla Bars made with Palisade peaches. Of course, here in the Yampa Valley we can't subsist solely on local foods, so other items were included to round out the meal for these hearty eaters, but getting creative with local foods was a great way to showcase what we can grow here.

Salida 2010 Residency Deadline

December 15, 2010

May 1-30, 2011 Residency

The deadline for applications is quickly approaching. The time frame had to be moved up because of the new way we doing this residency. After a very successful Artposita at Carpenter Ranch in Hayden, we have decided to give our artists-in-residence (AIR) more exposure. For the Salida 2010 Residency we will be selecting visual and literary artists and scientists whose work relates to the May Artposium theme of Dwellings. The Artposium will examine how we live, why we live that way, what makes a home, architecture and anthropology.

Successful candidates will have public speaking experience and work that relates to dwellings in some way. The AIRs will have an opportunity to present or give a workshop at the Artposium May 27-29, 2011. There will be other speakers included to represent different disciplines.

Colorado Art Ranch Welcomes Two New Board Members

In September two talented and enthusiastic people were added to help Colorado Art Ranch fulfill its mission. The new board members were added to fill perceived gaps in our knowledge base.

Cathi Schwalbe-Bouzide cathi (at)

Cathi is an artist living in Chicago. Cathi was a presenter at the Delta County Artposium in 2009, Dinner Stories, and was an artist-in-residence at the Salida 2010 Residency. In Chicago, Cathi Schwalbe-Bouzide is known as the Corn Lady. It's not hard to see why. Much of her artwork is about corn and explores corn culture. What she does is more than just "agricultural art." Bouzide's work reminds us of the relationship between land and food, between where we live and how we eat. Cathi’s will be responsible for overseeing the residency planning, recruitment and implementation.

Stevan Simich stevan (at)

Stevan studied art as an undergrad before going on to business and finance. He is accomplished at providing strategic, operational, financial, sustainability and entrepreneurial support to growing businesses. He has a background in consulting, finance and venture and private equity working for such companies as Castle Pines Ventures, Rally Software and Republic Financial Corporation. Stevan holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Michigan and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Denver with a specialization in Finance. Stevan enjoys going on adventures with his wife and two sons, backcountry skiing, cycling, hiking/camping, gardening and print & furniture making. Stevan will be overseeing financial operations and helping with strategies to make the organization sustainable.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Atomic Circus by Darlene M. Morse

When I walked into the Boulder Center for Conscious Living last evening, I had no idea what to expect. I was there to attend the Atomic Circus Salon Series and on this particular evening the topic was, “Water, Water Everywhere.”

Immediately my eyes were drawn to a frenetic woman with clear goggles perched on her head and a yellow plastic raincoat waving behind her. She was pressing tiny “H” or “O” stickers on everyone’s chest. I then saw the neat rows of chairs set up and facing this audience of chairs were four more with the speaker’s names above them. Below all of these chairs were clear (biodegradable) cups of water. I thought, how nice, they don’t want us to go thirsty.

The small crowd eventually sat down and the goggled woman, who turned out to be poet/teacher Marj Hahne, began the salon session. Since the evening was to be spent discussing the element of water, the first thing we were told to do was “bond” ~ as in finding two Hs and an O (H2O) We did this very well although it turned out that the Hs had to do more work than the Os. All the Os had to do was sit around and wait for some Hs to come along.
After an introductory poem about water read by Marj, the guest presenters and the audience members engaged in a lively discussion. The four represented diverse backgrounds but all concerned water in one way or another.

Greg Cortopassi is a photographer specializing in macro photography called “Facets of Nature.” He found that since water is in constant change that one never sees the exact same beauty twice. Trying to capture that beauty and share it is a labor of love and also of art.

Ross Thomas is a scientist who works in developing analytical methods and instruments for environmental water-monitoring applications. His goal is to work with businesses in order to reuse rather than release huge amounts of water daily in their manufacturing. Using technology available today can save money, save the aquifer, and save the groundwater. He began his own corporation to pursue this called Syntroteck.

Zia Parker’s background is diverse but on this evening it was focused on her work with Agua Alma, a fusion of in-depth aquatic bodywork, Aston-Patterning’s fluid biomechanics and deep ecology that connects us to the planet’s healing life forces. She discussed the fluidity within us and how we need to be aware of it and move in a natural fluid way.

The fourth guest was Greg Hobbs. He is not only a Colorado Supreme Court Justice, but a poet, writer and fisherman. His life is all about exploring water in all of its fantastic cultural and historic forms. He looked very comfortable in his black cowboy boots, turquoise bolo tie and ring. I wondered if he wore those with his judicial robe.

Wow. What an alive group they were. Marj then had us take the water from under our seats and observe it. It was purified water in that it had no pollutants or harmful bacteria in it. It did have minerals and other things associated with good water. We were asked to describe the water; words such as “clear,” “reflecting,” “refreshing,” “life-giving,” “pulsating,” “waves,” “drips,” “drops,” and “quenching” flowed forth. We then got to drink the water. And it tasted very good.

For almost two hours water was explored in all its facets through these four presenters and the audience. Poet Hobbs answered some of his questions by reading a poem; scientist Thomas used his background to give the specifics to the “hard” questions. Photographer Cortopassi responded to the visual qualities of water and the many forms it takes. And Zia Parker expressed the mind/body/earth connections we all have with water both inside of us and outside. Although diverse in approach, the four came together as one by saying that we need to treat water with respect.

I am now ready and looking forward to the next foray into water: the Colorado Art Ranch’s May Artposium, “Wade in the Water.” Greg Hobbs will also be a presenter at this three-day event and will have a greater opportunity to discuss water, read more of his poetry and give us his unique perspective on water rights.

I will never look at a water fountain the same way again. Thanks, Marj, the four presenters and the Atomic Circus Salon Series.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Two more reasons to attend Wade in the Water

It's nearly April, which means it's nearly May, which means it's nearly time for our seventh artposium, Wade in the Water...May 21-23rd in Salida, Colorado. Still not sure about coming? Let's consider two more reasons you'll want to attend:

1. Author Craig Childs will be presenting...

2. And, so will Colorado Supreme Court Justice and poet/author Greg Hobbs

The New York Times called Craig Childs “a modern-day desert father.” He has spent years in the American Southwest canyon country, exploring the geography and the implications of water’s presence and absence. He was also a river guide. Childs has published more than a dozen acclaimed books on nature, science, and adventure, including House of Rain and The Secret Knowledge of Water. His rugged, spontaneous outdoor experiences inform his writing and his life. Childs is currently in Chile where he will be joining a documentary crew on the Baker River, which is threatened by major dam proposals. “We came to the Aisén region of Patagonia to take a look for ourselves and to record what are, we hope, not the last years of free-flowing water,” Childs recently wrote on his blog. Childs is sure to be an entertaining and enlightening speaker. Visit his website: and his blog:

Greg Hobbs has called attention to water as a scarce resource artistically and professionally, with a law career spanning 25 years. He is Vice-President of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education, Co-Convener of Dividing the Waters (the Western Water Judges Project), and is a three-decade veteran of water law. Hobbs is also an accomplished author and poet, with his works including In Praise of Fair Colorado- The Practice of Poetry, History, and Judging, Colorado Mother of Rivers- Water Poems, and The Public’s Water Resource- Articles on Water Law, History, and Culture. Hobbs' unique perspective will give Wade attendees a peek into the complexity of water issues.

We hope to see you in Salida!


***Follow our blog and receive a special discount on Wade in the Water registration! Enter the code "blog" when you register online at (click register online on the right) or ***

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Artist Basia Irland at Wade in the Water

Hello, Blogosphere! Seeing as this is my first post for the Colorado Art Ranch blog, let me introduce myself. My name is Samantha, and I’m the new PR and Marketing Intern here at the Ranch. I’m so excited to be a part of this great non-profit. I grew up in Steamboat, so rural Colorado has a special place in my city-girl heart. I can’t wait to attend our upcoming Artposium, Wade in the Water, in Salida. Mark your calendars for a great, artsy time: May 21st-23rd.

If you’ve been following our blog and our goings on, you already know a little bit about Wade in the Water. But here’s a quick recap for those just now visiting. Wade in the Water will be a weekend of water-themed disscussions, workshops and lectures held in the lovely town of Salida, named one of Outside Magazine’s “Dream Towns & Adventure Hideouts.” Exciting guest speakers will entertain and enthrall and we’ll get a fresh look at the way we see, use, enjoy, and control our water.

“Water and Eco Artist” Basia Irland is one of our featured guest speakers. Irland is Professor Emerita at University of New Mexico, and one of the world’s foremost water-based artist-activist-thinkers. She’s a sculptor and installation artist, a poet and book artist, and an activist in water issues. Her efforts include building rainwater-harvesting systems, community building along river corridors, and creating “ice books” embedded with seeds to foster plant growth along rivers.

What most excites me about Irland are her otherworldly ice books. They are stunning in a simple, elegant way. Water is a beautiful medium, and Irland proves her ability to harness it with these “books” that look like they’re made of glass, with “text” written through seeds. Besides their natural beauty, they serve a functional purpose (and in my opinion art that is functional AND beautiful gets extra points): as the book melts in the river, the seeds float away, distributing themselves downstream and along the banks. Irland says on her website, “I work with stream ecologists, biologists, and botanists to ascertain the best seeds for each specific riparian zone. When the plants regenerate and grow along the bank, they help sequester carbon, hold the banks in place, and provide shelter for riverside creatures.”

Can’t wait to hear more from Basia Irland at Wade in the Water. Check out her website at Register for the event at, or Follow our blog and receive a discount on registration…just use the coupon code “blog” at checkout. See you there!


Join the Colorado Art Ranch mailing list here:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Art and Dissatisfaction

Last week Peggy and I attended the inaugural evening for Atomic Circus hosted by Nomad/poet Marj Hahne and featuring Nomad/ writer BK Loren. The event was in the salon style and featured a writer, poet, dancer, musician and painter. The format included questions from Marj and answers from the artist panel. The audience was eager to join in (did I mention this was in Boulder?).

One woman described in some detail her experience performing a dance for the entertainment of folks in an assisted care facility. She described her amateur status, but reported that she had moved from a very genuine place, had taken a risk and was rewarded with a feeling of. The dancer on the panel made a comment that not only was that not an art form, but that the audience had never seen good dance. This prickly response led to some rather heated dialog.

So, what is the difference between an amateur and professional? Between art and Art? Anyone can experience the benefits of creation, and anyone can learn the basic skills of an art, but does that make one an artist?

The amateur dancer needed to feel like what she did (create movement and entertainment from a place that's genuine and risky) had value beyond the reward she received from her audience and self. The professional needed to have the world understand his sacrifice and practice that was invested to get to where he is in his art. The huge difference between the two is that the professional experienced his risk/reward long ago. However, there is a dissatisfaction (neutral use here) that accepts the risk/reward, but wants more. That leads to the practice that leads to a higher form.

Artists treat this dissatisfaction in two (or more) ways. The dissatisfaction can be a motivator to practice, hone skills, seek knowledge, seek mentors, explore and create. Or, it can cause a crippling self-criticism that serves no one well. The latter leads to devaluing on the part of the artists. It leads to the poverty mentality, because, “if I am so hopelessly displeased with my work, how can it possibly have value?”

There is probably more of a continuum. The middle path may be more one of creating a life. Where we do, what we gotta do, regardless of group-think. In that scenario both dancers are equally correct. The first one, however, will not be getting a call from Twyla Tharp.

What do you think?