Editorial: We should all be proud of Craig’s art culture
Renee Campbell, publisher
Clay Thorp, reporter
Pete Pleasant, community representative
Desiree Moore, community representative
Contact the Editorial Board at editor@CraigDailyPress.com.
You might not know it yet, but there’s valuable, tangible talent right here in Craig and Moffat County.
What often begins as a hobby to pass the time by creating something appealing to the artist or appealing to the eye, to the ear, something tasty or something — anything, can often flower into a real source of income that can help working families in rural economies like ours.
The recently formed Northwest Colorado Art Council’s work in this regard is crucial as it will shed light on a new generation of painters, musicians, brewers, edible artisans, and other creative types at events that attract folks from across the Yampa Valley. When their work is integrated with city and state policies, our arts council can prove to be a valuable service that markets our rural arts culture, feeds our local businesses, and provides a good quality of life to residents.
The art council can look to plenty of successful organization whose past events have brought world-class attractions to Craig. The city of Craig hosted the first-ever Sagebrush Art Festival in August 2002 — a judged art show that included painting, sidewalk chalk art, and glass blowing competitions for cash prizes. The event was sponsored with a small grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Nostalgic Norman Rockwell-inspired paintings still adorn shop fronts downtown — the remnants of an exhibit of the artist that came to Museum of Northwest Colorado in 2012.
The Yampa Valley Artisans group always fills events with local wares — some of them coveted crafts made by artisans from the Yampa Valley Potters.
Craig’s Downtown Business Association has worked over the decades to showcase Yampa Valley artists of all kinds on the Saturday before Valentines Day for Craig’s Art Walk and Taste of Chocolate. The arts council is hoping to take this particular event and expand it — partnering with the business association on a regular art walk on the first Friday of every month.
There are plans to beautify some of Craig’s historic alleyways with murals and to take advantage of an offer for our local arts council to be housed in The Giving Tree at 525 Yampa Ave. for the cost of utilities. If they can make the numbers work, it seems our news arts council might finally provide a permanent facility to showcase our local artists for visitors and residents year-round.
Residents really should view the art council’s work through the prism of economic development and welcome the money brought into our small businesses and economy at large when any event comes to town. Ask anyone who regularly attends art events and they might tell you Craig has an abundance of kind and genuine folks unlike some art scenes in Colorado.
Local artists who come to these events in Craig are our neighbors and friends. They are the son of a farmer who developed a love for painting the beautiful, rolling hills of his family’s small ranch; a cattle rancher’s daughter who started sculpting steely works of art after learning to weld as a young girl; or the Native American woman whose family recipes were passed down from the generations to her and her new food truck. This next generation of artists will make Craig’s future into something we can all take pride in and enjoy.
But these burgeoning artists might not have realized their potential at all were it not for groups that support the arts. President Melanie Kilpatrick and all her associates at Craig’s newly formed Northwest Colorado Arts Council deserve praise for their hard work. So, too, do all those who came before Kilpatrick — Linda Booker and so many more whose work on the Downtown Business Association’s events over the years has made Craig’s arts scene what it is today.
The future looks bright for Craig’s burgeoning artists because of much hard work by artists and organizers over the years and we should all be very thankful for that. But it’s also important for our new arts council to integrate their work with that of the city of Craig and its economic development initiatives. The city’s recent work to secure millions in grant money may present its own opportunities for the arts council. The county also is working hard to bring more events to Craig and Moffat County, so integrating initiatives and communicating across multiple nonprofit and government organizations in Craig to accomplish the same goal will be important.
The future looks bright, indeed, but only if we all work together to further integrate Craig’s arts culture into our social and economic fabric and market Craig’s burgeoning arts culture to a global audience.