Artists of all ages come together to raise money for Steamboat art programs |

Artists of all ages come together to raise money for Steamboat art programs

Nicole Inglis

Seventh-grader Eber Munoz works on a sunflower oil-pastel project Wednesday during Susanmarie Oddo's art class at Steamboat Springs Middle School. Oddo's students from the first quarter have examples of their work, including the sunflower project, hanging in Ciao Gelato this month as part of a fundraiser for school art programs.

— In her four years as the Strawberry Park Elementary School art teacher, Erin Kreis never has purchased watercolor paper. It was just one of those luxuries she couldn't afford since funding for elementary school art programs has been cut by 40 percent during the past three years.

Although Kreis and Nicki Dollard, the art teacher at Soda Creek Elementary School, have been working with what they have, she said it's not enough for local students.

"They're kids, and all kids deserve the best," she said. "I think art is an important part of a whole child education."

And local professional artists agreed, showing their support for youth art by reaching out to the schools.

This fall, the Artists' Gallery of Steamboat teamed up with Steamboat elementary and middle schools for a community outreach program in which five professional artists visited art classes at various grade levels. Kreis said her students were enthralled at learning about the life and work of professional artists.

And the Artists' Gallery didn't stop there. Several artist members also donated works to be raffled off to raise money for local art programs.

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At the same time, more than 20 pieces of work by kindergarten through eighth-grade students will be on display at Ciao Gelato. Donation bins will be on hand at the restaurant, and all of the funds raised will go toward school art programs.

Receptions for both shows are from 5 to 8 p.m. during First Friday Artwalk.

The students' artwork features various projects — from oil-pastel sunflowers to geometric shapes, as well as large collaborative pieces — that Steamboat Springs Middle School art teacher Susanmarie Oddo said the students should be very proud of.

"One of the reasons we chose (kindergarten through eighth grade) was to let the community know what our students can do. We want to celebrate their successes," Oddo said.

The professional artists, she said, also have a lot to contribute, so bringing the two elements of the art community together seemed only natural.

"We are a town of amazing, creative people," Oddo said. "They have so much to offer.

"We want to bridge the gap between the community and the art students."

— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email

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