Steamboat Springs A passion for creating works of art whether they are pieces of pottery, paintings or handwoven clothes drives many artists to spend long days and nights perfecting each of their pieces.
It can also drive them to spend days, weekends or even weeks on the road, traveling to art shows across the country to sell their work.
Steamboat Springs' Art in the Park this weekend has attracted artists who endure this on-the-road lifestyle as well as those who hit only one or two shows a year.
Christine Sisco and her husband, Ron, are two of the more serious travelers. Starting with the Steamboat show, they'll be selling their handmade wooden cutting boards, utensils and tables at an art show every weekend, except for three, through September.
The Siscos often travel to shows together, but sometimes one will run back to Arizona to make more products for the next week's show.
They get to the shows by plane and by car, and if they have several shows in one area, they'll leave a van there and fly back and forth to their home in Arizona. They used to camp in a tent while going to shows, but now Christine said they opt for hotels.
The hours they spend at shows are both fun and helpful, Christine said.
"It really gives us a lot of satisfaction to get the feedback from the customers," Christine said. "It really helps encourage us to keep on going."
The Siscos both worked other jobs before turning their interest in woodworking into a full-time profession about 15 years ago.
Not only do they make enough money from selling their artistic pieces to pay their bills, but they also get the joy of having other people appreciate their work.
"I love it because you make a beautiful piece and it's such a compliment when somebody comes and purchases that piece because they see it as you have seen it," Christine said. "It's a reward for all your work."
Malen Pierson of Utah takes his "Recycled Visions" pieces to about seven shows every summer, hitting places in California, Washington, Pennsylvania and more. Pierson uses scrap metal and found objects to make whimsical cats, dogs and other characters and is now starting to build clocks out of motorcycle gears, chains and old clock parts.
Sometimes he, his wife and their 1-year-old child will fly to shows, and other times they'll hook up a cargo trailer and drive.
The reason he travels, he said, is to meet people and share his work.
"I sell through a lot of galleries, so the reason I like to do art shows is to interact with the clients," Pierson said. "It makes it a lot more personal and I just enjoy just meeting people."
Even for Pierson, who grew up moving from city to city as his father was a traveling salesman, the many hours logged on the road, in motels and standing outside at art shows for entire days can take their toll.
"It kind of wears you down," he said. "It makes me appreciate that I'm not a truck driver."
It's exactly that sort of stress from traveling that got Nancy Zoller of Loveland off the show circuit. Zoller has been creating pottery since she was about 12, when she saw a potter throwing clay for the first time at an exhibit in a mall.
When Zoller started making pottery full time, she tried to hit several shows throughout the summer. But she said she had to work double time in the winter and time in between shows to make enough pieces to sell at the next show.
Besides the extra workload that going to an art show guarantees, going to a show can sometimes bring little reward.
"They're so iffy and you never know," Zoller said. "It's very deflating (not to sell pieces), and mostly it's because there's no one there but you still feel very personally like, 'Oh what I made is no good.' And then you go home with no money."
Now she sells her stoneware pieces through several stores, and though she's given up on going to a number of shows every year, she still makes a point to come to Steamboat's Art in the Park. This year is her 20th at the show.
"The Steamboat one has just been so consistent every year we've just made it a part of a life," Zoller said.
Over the years, Zoller's children have sold some of their own creations at the booth. This year her 10-year-old daughter Sarah will be selling angel pins and a high school student who is studying pottery under Zoller will also have items at the stand.
This year's Art in the Park is also the 20th time Steamboat resident Kay Wagner, a retired Soda Creek Elementary teacher, will be selling her colorful baby quilts in shapes such as hippos, lambs, skiers and clowns, as well as her jewelry bags, dog and cat Christmas stockings and handmade backpacks.
Wagner said the business is more of a hobby for her so she now only goes to the Steamboat shows. Earlier she tried to do several shows throughout the summer, something she said was really tough.
"I was nuts," Wagner said. "I was just a maniac at that time."
Besides the traveling time and the fact that there's less time to work on pieces, Wagner said the shows were physically draining.
"It's intense because from the time you open, you are busy," Wagner said. Even running to get a bite to eat or to go the bathroom can become an ordeal if an artist is the only one working at his or her booth.
But the hard work preparing for and running a booth doesn't deter Wagner from the Steamboat show and the chance to catch up with customers and friends.
"You see everybody you've ever known," Wagner said. "It's a gab-fest as much as anything."