MONTROSE – During the five years it has been in existence, the Montrose Public Art eXperience, or PAX, has donated more than $35,000 worth of sculptures to the city’s permanent outdoor collection in the downtown area.
At the fifth anniversary PAX Gala and Quickdraw last Friday, several hundred supporters of the arts turned out to view new additions to the collection, watch artists at work, hear live music and dine on fare from Pollo Azada. A raffle of an oil painting by Montrose artist Gina Grundemann, Last Light on Little Cimarron, was also held to raise money for PAX.
The winner of the raffle, which organizers hope will raise a few thousand dollars to buy more art, was Cedaredge sculptor Tracy Munson, who has been involved the arts organization since its founding. Her sculpture Catch the Scent is one of those purchased by PAX for the city’s permanent collection.
This region is lucky to have so many talented sculptors, said PAX steering committee member Michelle Young. This year PAX added a record number of new pieces to the downtown collection, which will be on display for a year, when they will be swapped out for new art.
“I’m most excited about this collection of sculptures – 19 new pieces – the most we’ve ever introduced in any one year,” she said. The 19 new pieces, plus permanent pieces, brings the total to 22 sculptures currently on downtown street corners. Sculpture location maps are available at Montrose City Hall or www.cityofmontrose.org/art.
All the new sculptures are by Western Slope artists, Young said, and the region is chockful of talent.
“We are very fortunate we have such talent in our region, and such a diverse collection,” she said. “I think there’s something for everyone.”
One highlight for Young was the Quickdraw event, where artists worked as people strolled around and watched and while little kids ran and played.
Young said she was sitting next to watercolorist Linda Nadel, and was fascinated as she watched her paint a waterfall.
“I had no idea what she was doing, but it all worked out and I was amazed at her finished product.” She had the same reaction to watching sculptor Daphna Russell create a buffalo out of a lump of clay.
“I thought, ‘What is she doing?’ and then suddenly, it’s something!” she said.
Other artists in the Quickdraw were Mary Hill, who demonstrated putting a glaze on a ceramic platter; Lori Berry, who made a picture of an aspen from glass beads; and Lindsay Jenkins, who drew a green-headed tanager with colored markers.
All the Quickdraw artworks were auctioned off by auctioneer Ralph Walchle, and although final figures aren’t in on how much was raised, Young thinks it’s better than last year.
Jenkins’ painting, she said, drew a bid of $35, which is great since she’s a young artist “who’s never done this before.”
But Russell’s clay buffalo, which will later be fired, went for a high bid of close to $400, quite a steal for the buyer.
“It’s a great buy – her pieces go well into the thousands,” Young said.
Carolyn Bellavance, chair of the PAX steering committee, said people seemed to enjoy the Quickdraw, which began as a fundraising device last year, replacing the silent auctions PAX used to hold.
“I think people really enjoy watching the artists create, seeing the process and what goes into it,” Bellavance said.
Live music by Pickin’ Peggy Malone was also a crowd-pleaser, she said, and kids danced on stage, played musical instruments and rode stick horses provided by Malone.
Bellavance said she doesn’t know yet how much was raised from the raffle and the auction, but the money will be used to cover PAX expenses and to buy at least one more sculpture at the end of the exhibit next year.
Last year the gala raised $1,097, she said, and the goal this year is to meet or exceed that. Other funding comes from private donations and local businesses, and PAX works in partnership with the Montrose Association of Commerce and Tourism and the City of Montrose.
Lu Anne Tyrrell, also a steering committee member, said the concept for downtown art began nine years ago as a program called Sculptures on the Square, and was revamped as PAX, which held its first meetings in 2005, with its first gala held the following year.
The idea for downtown art came from Grand Junction, whose downtown art program is 20 years old and very successful, Tyrell. She said the director of the Grand Junction program gave her one piece of advice: “This takes time.”
Along with Main in Motion, the PAX exhibits are helping revitalize downtown, she said.
“In the early days, we’d be calling you and trying to get you to come downtown,” Tyrrell said. “Those days are gone, but it does take time.”
Caitlin Switzer, another steering committee member, was also thrilled with the PAX program’s success, and gave thanks to sponsors, artists and fellow committee members.
“This is a great source of community pride and makes downtown look alive, and it’s a free source of entertainment and education for all,” she said.