Guest Artist Ron Allred Shares His Story of Telluride Through Collaborative Art Piece
by Watch Staff
Jul 11, 2013 | 2856 views | 0 0 comments | 99 99 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RON ALLRED and Judy Haas in her S. Pine Street studio. (Photo by Carrie Beyer)
RON ALLRED and Judy Haas in her S. Pine Street studio. (Photo by Carrie Beyer)

‘Preserving the Jewel’ by Allred and Judy Haas Onsale at July 19 Ah Haa Art Auction

TELLURIDE – On a recent summer afternoon in Telluride, a perhaps unlikely duo was hunched over a large table looking at maps of the region. It was one of several meetings (already totaling more than 20 hours, in fact) between Telluride Ski Resort developer Ron Allred and Telluride artist Judy Haas in her South Pine Street studio. Their task: to collaborate on an art piece for the Ah Haa School for the Arts’ 21st Annual Art Auction on Friday, June 19.

“Art is not synonymous with ‘Ron,’” says Allred. “I have no art ability whatsoever,” he adds, confessing that he has been worried that the project will not be successful in raising funds for Ah Haa. “But Judy [Kohin, Ah Haa’s executive director] convinced me it won’t fail.”

Ah Haa has teamed up other noteworthy individuals and artists for several past art auctions, including General Norman Schwarzkopf and actor Susan St. James.

“Their process exemplifies what the Ah Haa is all about,” says Kohin. “Having these ‘non-artists’ face their fears and open up to the creative process is incredible. I’ve seen how they transform through the process; the pieces they create become extraordinarily meaningful and the experience has a lasting effect on the participants,” she continues. “It is exactly that – that moment of inspiration – that the Ah Haa strives for with all of its students.”

Allred is visibly nervous about the project, but he is committed to the story he wishes to tell through his piece. Haas, a nationally exhibited artist best known for her colorful pastel trout paintings, smiles at Allred’s insecurity, exuding a knowing confidence that their collaborative piece is truly special and will be received with great interest and excitement.

“I have learned so much about the history of Telluride from Ron,” she says. “I am facilitating the construction of the piece to enable Ron to tell the story of his contribution to the Telluride region’s ski resort and preserving the beauty of this area.” At the foundation of the mixed media piece are two maps; one, a topo map from 1978, the same year Telluride’s last mine, Idarado, closed down. And the other, a map of the region’s 1979 TREPAC (Telluride Regional Advisory Planning Commission) agreement, which delineates agreed-upon population densities meant to limit growth and preserve the natural beauty of the Telluride region.

The old maps will be combined with an etching on plexiglass – a simplified version, in Allred’s handwriting, of his commitment to the preservation of Telluride, hence the piece’s title: “Preserving the Jewel.”

Colorado Boy Builds Colorado Resort

Allred grew up in Grand Junction with fellow Telluride Ski Resort developer Jim Wells. Through their business Benchmark Companies, the two built the town of Avon, west of Vail. As that project reached build-out capacity, the two decided, “let’s find the next great place in Colorado to build a great year-round resort,” recalls Allred. “I was going all over Colorado; I went everywhere, but nothing really rang my bell.”

It was over lunch with Vail resort founder Pete Seibert that Allred first heard of Telluride. “I was kind of whining to him about finding the ‘perfect place,’ and he said to me, ‘Ron, the perfect place has already been found – you’re sitting in it!” But then, “I could see him thinking,” and a few moments later Seibert said, “Have you ever been to a place called Telluride? It’s incredibly beautiful… but you’ll need a bunch of D9 cats” to deal with the rolls and dips and flats. “He was definitely right about the D9s,” laughs Allred.

Discovering the Jewel

“I had never seen Telluride until 1977,” Allred says. “It was a blue-sky August day. I was about halfway down the valley when I knew, ‘This is it’. It’s the same thing that happened to all of us” upon entering Telluride.

Haas, who was born and raised in Aspen and moved to Telluride five years ago, has a similar affinity for the region, making her a perfect fit as Allred’s art mentor. During their visits they have realized they have a lot of people in common – cousins, friends, etc. “We don’t have art in common, but we have history in common,” quips Allred. “And we both own old, beat up 1949 pickups!”

Allred’s love for Telluride is apparent as he shares bits and pieces of his story. Though he is humble about where Telluride is today and where it is headed in the future, he credits all of Telluride’s success to “an army of people.

“I am very proud,” he says.


See Allred’s Piece at the Auction

View and bid on Allred’s “Preserving the Jewel” mixed media piece at Ah Haa’s To-Hell-U-Ride: The Wild Years! Art Auction, Friday, July 19, under the tent on S. Townsend Street, 5-10 p.m. For event specifics and a preview of work, go to, or come to this week’s Art Walk, Tuesday, July 2, 5-8 p.m. A special evening featuring talks by guest artists and an auction of their work takes place Thursday, July 18, 5:30-7:30 p.m.


To learn more about artist Judy Haas and her work, go to, or stop by her studio at 225 S. Pine St., next to Smugglers brewery. You might even find Allred there, working on his piece.

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