Colorado Mountain College landscape painting exhibit comes ‘Close to Home’
Five renowned artists are your neighbors
by: Carrie Click
Usually, it goes something like this: You arrive at an art exhibit and look around. If it’s a landscape show, you admire the talent and perspective of the painters, but you don’t recognize the scenes depicted. They depict a far-off beach or city, or maybe a historical event long since passed.
That’s not what will happen when “Close to Home” opens with an artist reception from 6 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 7 at Colorado Mountain College’s campus in Rifle. The exhibit, which will hang on the walls of the building’s main hallway through Jan. 10, features the works of five well-respected, collected local artists, four of whom live so close to the campus they could almost walk there from their studios. And the fifth artist, Andy Taylor, only lives as far away as Carbondale.
Artists flocking to Silt?
Rolling through the town of Silt, it might not immediately be apparent that the community is such a magnet for artists. But it’s where painters Dean Bowlby, Dan Young, Jane Lee and Lanny Grant live and work.
For Bowlby and Young, who attended Glenwood Springs High School together, a move down valley with room to breathe and to paint brought them to the town.
“It wasn’t intentional,” said Young of landing in Silt. “After I grew up in Glenwood, I wanted to get out of here but then I realized that I had grown up in a beautiful place. Silt is kind of a coincidence. It’s a more affordable place for artists who make their living painting, which we all do. So Dean (Bowlby) is here, and Jane (Lee), and Lanny (Grant).”
Grant grew up on his father’s ranch in Peach Valley east of Silt, and now lives on Silt Mesa. His work has been featured for years in greeting cards by the Leanin’ Tree Publishing Company in Boulder and represented in several galleries. (Grant and Bowlby also teach courses at Colorado Mountain College.) And even though many of Grant’s paintings feature high-alpine vistas such as Pyramid Peak and Wyoming’s Grand Teton, he also paints locally.
“There’s a lot to discover and paint here,” he said.
Painting your backyard
Fellow Silt artist Bowlby agrees with Grant’s view of the local artist’s subject matter.
“What we have at hand can often be neglected and looked past, no matter the wonder that may be present,” said Bowlby, whose work features European scenes as well as local landscapes. “I love travel, but that needn’t discount my backyard for awe. It all depends on a perspective.”
Young has a favorite place near Silt he likes to paint on location. He, like the other artists, appreciates painting scenes that might otherwise be passed by.
“To appreciate what’s in your backyard, you have to paint your backyard and my backyard is Silt,” Young said. “Sometimes my paintings literally come from what I see out my back door.”
Lee said she also believes in observing the subtle sights close at hand. “[In Silt], there’s the wonderful open sky,” she said. “Here I can see the top, bottom and sides of a cloud coming through the canyons.”
Artists capture color, moods
Taylor, who’s lived in Carbondale since 1975, is equally as inspired by areas close to home.
“Although I take excursions to specific places looking for something to draw,” he said, “I am surprised often about what I find on the way to and from that destination.”
Taylor said he doesn’t paint plein-air – literally, “open air” in French – when creating his work. Instead he draws on site, then returns to his studio to paint. Grant has a similar technique. He starts most of his paintings on location on smaller canvases, then creates larger paintings at home in his studio.
“The value of painting on location is an artist’s attempt to capture color and fleeting moods of a rapidly changing landscape,” Grant said.
For Lee, painting landscapes in the outdoors is one of the pleasures in her life.
“I prefer to work in plein-air,” she said. “I’ve heard that every day that you paint on location adds one more day to your life. It’s just kind of magical.”
Colorado Mountain College in Rifle is at 3695 Airport Road. Young and Taylor are represented by the Ann Korologos Gallery of Basalt.