It started as a group of friends in Ridgway, hiking to U.S. Basin, Spirit Gulch, and Blue Lake together, all the while photographing and talking about photography. The group turned into a club. And now this Friday evening, barely a year after it was formed, the Ridgway Photography Club will unveil its first exhibit, “Images,” at Cimarron Books and Coffeehouse.
It’s been a flurry of activity when you look back on it, but Jennifer Parker, one of the Club’s founding members, says the way she and her fellow photography buffs came and grew together was really quite methodical. “We gave ourselves a theme each month,” she explains. One month it was photographs of shadows, or fences, or black-and-white, or snow-and-ice. Next month, the theme is wildlife. “We began with the notion that each member could show twenty slides on this theme over 20 minutes,” she says, “But then we started adding members, and we ran out of time.” Today the group numbers 12, so each member gets 10 minutes to show 10 slides (which still guarantees at least a two-hour session every time they convene). What keeps things fresh is not only the members’ unique take on different themes, but differing equipment and points-of-view. The Club’s press release describes “Images” as “an eclectic collection” of photographic art. “We learn a lot from each other,” Parker says. “Some of us study photography madly. A few of us, like myself, don’t know a lot, but have a pretty good eye for a photograph. We have very different cameras and different perspectives.” This Friday evening, vive le difference. A reception for the photographers is from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The show runs through June 18.
WEEHAWKEN SPRING DANCE PROGRAM
It’s time again for Weehawken Art’s annual spring dance recital – one of its biggest events of the year. One hundred dancers, three-quarters of them under the age of 10, all led by their choreographer and teacher Natasha Pyeatte, will gather at the Wright Opera House this weekend to perform The Jungle Book. It’s the familiar tale of Mowgli, the young orphan found in the Indian jungle, and Mowgli’s many animal friends, including Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther. Pyeatte has cast herself as Kaa, the Indian Python. In the Disney movies (and in Rudyard Kipling’s book), Mowgli is a boy, but here she is a girl. “And we’re keeping her name Mowgli,” Pyeatte says.
Pyeatte is a woman with an easy laugh, and a firm sense of what she wants to do. She grew up dancing in Los Angeles, and is the only dance teacher in Colorado certified by the American Ballet Theatre through Level 5. She was recruited by Susie Opdahl, the founder of Weehawken, to teach – and almost didn’t stay. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to live here,” she says frankly. “I decided I would only do it if we could do a recital each year.” Pyeatte started teaching 12 children, which grew to 50, then 75, and eventually 100. This is her fifth year choreographing the spring program. “I realized we hadn’t done one on animals,” she says. “Every child has stuffed animals all over their room.” Pyeatte thought, why not The Jungle Book? So she re-wrote it. “I took the parts I liked, and what made sense for the cast I have.” You get the feeling she always does what makes the most sense for her dancers. Last December, for example, The Nutcracker was held at the Montrose Pavilion. This pained Pyeatte; Weehawken Arts is a Ouray County organization, but “there just wasn’t room in the Wright, and we would have had to house the students across the street. We couldn’t have them running back and forth in the cold” in their tutus to the theater. This spring, the program is back at the Wright. “We want to keep it in the community, but it’s very hard. We’ve outgrown the space.” As for whether she’ll return to the Wright, particularly with such a large show, Pyeatte laughed her easy laugh. Then she said, “No guarantees. We’re taking it one program at a time.” The Jungle Book is at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit weehawkenarts.org. ARTISTS’ STUDIO TOURS IN GRAND JUNCTION
In Grand Junction, “there are many more artists than galleries,” says Linda Brotman-Evans. As the founder of Art Space, an organization that aims to help artists build their businesses and connect with the public, she is trying to help change that, one easel at a time.
Whether or not you even care for a person’s art, studio tours can be fascinating. A close-up view of where an artist works helps people “understand what decisions they made, what problems they overcame in the process of creating. You begin to comprehend the investment of the artist’s time and knowledge in a way you never would just by looking at a finished piece,” Brotman-Evans says. “It’s not often that you see the how a piece is made. The finished product doesn’t say everything about what went into a piece. It’s only the contact with the artist that lets you know that.” This weekend, as it does twice each year, Art Space is sponsoring an Open Studios Arts Tour. The artists specialize in everything from painting to glassblowing, ceramics, sculpture, fiber, even neon. “We’re displaying more than 12 types of media,” Brotman-Evans says. “You name it, we’ve got it.”
To download a map of the artists’ locales, visit artspacecolorado.org. Studios are open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, and 12-4 p.m. Sunday.