Given all the incredible outdoor activities available to kids in the Roaring Fork Valley, it can sometimes be easy to forget that there are great indoor opportunities as well. Among the best supported of these is the valley’s arts network, which includes art centers, libraries and schools that seem to be bucking the national trend by continuing to place a strong emphasis on arts education.
It all adds up to a fertile breeding ground for aspiring artists, and, indeed, the valley has produced some wonderful talents over the years. But even here, it can be hard for artists to get noticed until they land a gallery show or something similar. An exhibition opening today at the Aspen Chapel Gallery aims to change that by shining a light on the valley’s younger set and giving them a taste of the professional art world.
The show, entitled “7 X 14, Art from the Roaring Fork Valley’s Six High Schools,” features artwork created by students from Aspen High School, Basalt High School, Roaring Fork High School, Colorado Rocky Mountain School, Glenwood Springs High School and Yampah Mountain High School. Each school submitted art from 14 students, for a total of 86 pieces in all manner of styles.
“It’s open to whatever they’re working on and what they feel best represents them and their view of the world,” said Summers Moore, a local artist and photographer who helped curate the show. “There are great art programs throughout the schools, and I just thought, ‘You know what? Let’s put the kids up on the wall.’ Because it’s really important for them to see how the art world works, and the chapel is such a great venue.”
For the Aspen Chapel, the show, which has its opening reception tonight from 5-7 p.m., continues an impressive run of 209 consecutive exhibitions since the gallery opened 33 years ago. It’s a streak that has helped foster the artistic careers of countless local artists of all ages.
“This is an opportunity for the visual art students to have their time in the spotlight,” said gallery co-director Tom Ward. “Drawing, painting, photography, graphite and colored pencil are some of the media in the show.”
Ward and Moore curated the exhibition along with gallery co-director Michael Bonds, Kathy Honea and Molly Peacock. The submitted pieces were selected by the art teachers at the various high schools, who were thrilled to have this chance to give 14 of their students some real-world experience and exposure.
“Any opportunity to get their students in some sort of a visual limelight is good for them,” said Moore. “They appreciate us offering it up to them, as they obviously understand the art world can be a cutthroat, tough place at times, so to give these kids the opportunity to have their stuff on the wall for five weeks, unobstructed – and the traffic at the chapel is quite busy – makes it a real win-win-win.”
This is the second year of the high school exhibit, although 2019’s iteration bears little resemblance to its predecessor. Last year seven area high schools each submitted art from seven students for a total of 49 pieces. This year, the number was doubled to 14 students each – hence the 7 X 14 name – but Bridges High School in Carbondale was unable to participate this time around.
There’s no telling whether this insider’s look at the business will propel any of the students into a professional art career, but until it closes on Feb. 17, the show will certainly prove a testament to the talent growing in the valley and the great opportunities local youth have to nurture their abilities.