Steamboat Springs To Sue Oehme, the story started as soon as the car entered Wolcott and her cell phone rang. She hadn't even noticed that the van that was following her to Glenwood Springs was no longer behind her and hadn't been for quite some time.
Patricia Branstead and Georgia Taylor had broken down in Oak Creek, 17 miles into the trip. The women were knee-deep in the bubble-wrapped artwork they were transporting to the exhibit "Of Our Valley, Celebrating 30 Years of Art in Steamboat Springs."
They stood next to a Dumpster for three hours waiting for Nancy Kramer at The Depot Arts Center in Steamboat Springs to find another vehicle.
The Winter Sports Club offered the use of its van.
The women and the artwork arrived in Glenwood Springs two
hours before the 5 p.m. opening reception.
"We were hanging the show and screaming the time to each other. It's 4:11. It's 4:23," Oehme said.
Sculptor Wayne Kakela showed up with his sculptures and helped the women hang the rest of the show.
They sent out 800 invitations to the show and expected a good turnout. The show was ready at 10 minutes after 5 p.m.
JoAnn Baker-Paul, a photographer who has two pieces in the show, was helping to hang the show but forgot there was going to be a reception, Oehme said.
"She ran down the street to a thrift store and bought an outfit, including shoes and a necklace, for $26," Oehme said.
But it didn't really matter.
"I think we outnumbered the people who showed up," Kakela said. About 20 people attended.
After the craziness of the day, all the women could do was laugh.
"It was crazy, but I don't think I've had that much fun in a long time," Oehme said.
"Of Our Valley" was first exhibited in the Depot in Steamboat last summer and curated by Oehme, master printer of Riverhouse Editions. Forty-one artists took part in the original exhibit. About half of the artists returned for the second show on display through May 28.
The theme of the exhibit, "Reflections on Life in the Yampa Valley," asked artists to examine their sense of the valley and communicate it visually.
Kakela has been in the Yampa Valley since 1960, when the population hovered at about 2,500 people. He has "grown up" in the valley, he said.
Kakela showed up in town after meeting Lowell Whiteman on a second-class bus in Mexico. They struck up a conversation, and Whiteman invited him to visit the Lowell Whiteman School when he returned to the states.
"When I came, he offered me a job, but I was on my way to California," Kakela said. "I was going to mine for gold in California and sail around the world."
Kakela never found his gold and took Whiteman up on his offer.
In 1963, Kakela bought a 35-acre piece of land in Strawberry Park.
There was a shell of a barn on the property and Kakela had no experience with rural living.
"I was in love with the West," he said. "I had these idealized views of the West and what I could do with my land."
The 35 acres and the barn shaped Kakela over the years, just as he shaped them. The barn was converted to rustic living quarters, which he and his wife rented out.
"I think hundreds of people in this town started out in Steamboat by living in the barn," he said.
Even now, people show up in this town and need a place to stay. Somehow, they end up at the barn, and the Kakelas take them in.
"I like helping people with their dreams," he said.
After living on the same piece of land for almost 40 years, the Kakelas have built a maze of a thousand days and ideas -- a sculpture garden growing next to hay fields.
Kakela's studio stands, hand-built, next to the barn. The walls are a dusty collage of maps, mirrors and taxidermy, guns and powder horns, and old wooden furniture.
He spends his time between the studio and the small tin and wooden shack that holds his blacksmith forge.
He experiments with wood and steel and the things he finds: rusting chains, drying bones, abandoned farm implements.
Outside his studio is a pile of metal frames and pieces waiting to be recycled.
The work he contributed to the show in Glenwood speaks straight from the place it was made. "Hay Hands" is a wooden hand, roughly carved, holding a hay hook. "Horse flowers" is a welded flower made of horseshoes. Horse flowers grow in every corner of the Kakela property.
"Dry year" is a metal piece he completed last summer, when the grass was brown, the river was dry and wildfires surrounded the valley.
"Dry year" is welded metal the shape and size of a hay bale. Two wooden hands reach down with hay hooks. The hay bale is empty except for a few pieces of hay.
Last summer wasn't an easy year for Kakela's hay crop and he hasn't forgotten it.
"My crop was about half of what it usually is," he said. "Everybody was suffering, and I thought the Spartanness of the empty metal box with a few pieces of hay sticking out ex- pressed the thing."
The work of 20 Steamboat artists is on display through May 28 in CMC's gallery, at the corner of Ninth Street and Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs.