Artisans enjoy their freedom

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Every artist at this year's Art in the Park has something unique to sell, but they all have one thing in common: They love their freedom.

While some artists were drawn to life on the road in order to escape the gallery scene and others saw its appeal in the sightseeing, all have grown to love the freedom that comes with traveling. The heaviest baggage they carry is their art.

It is their creations that will draw anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 people to West Lincoln Park today and Sunday.

Art in the Park, just one component of Steamboat's annual Rainbow Weekend, will feature more than 200 artists, musicians and vendors. This year marks the popular fair's 29th anniversary.

And once the two days are over, some of the artists will head home, but most will stay on the road.

With a hectic schedule of more than 40 shows each year, Terry Adams tries to stay within a 1,000-mile radius of home, in his case, Cuba, N.M. The secret to enjoying life on the road is perspective, he said.

"I think of it as a vacation, not a job," Adams said.

A former archaeologist, Adams finds that his creativity gets a boost from seeing a variety of places.

Michelle Ideus, a local artist who brought her mixed media paintings of horses, maintains a more relaxed agenda. Ideus and her husband, Dean, travel to about six shows each summer, reserving the winter for another famous Steamboat tradition -- skiing champagne powder.

Other vendors must strike a balance between family life and a career. Kurt Bechthold from Montrose brings his son Dillon on most trips and has named his products after his wife. Gigi Ann's is a line of soups, dips and seasonings.

Mallory and Meredith Campagna of Omaha, Neb., accompanied their mother on this trip. The two girls, who are 13 and 11 years old, said they don't often miss their busy mother, who attends anywhere from 30 to 50 shows each year.

"She's home all of the time," Mallory Campagna said. In order to spend time with her children, their mother stays as close to home as possible.

Whether the journey to Steamboat was a trip for leisure or work, all of the artists said they enjoyed the interaction with the customers and fellow artists. Many of the returning vendors made the trip back because, they said, it was such an enjoyable experience.

Robin Richards, from Walsenburg, a town in the south part of the state, loves Art in the Park.

"It's a great show," she said. "It's well organized and it's a great crowd."

Richards also likes the escape from galleries, where most buyers are anonymous. Instead, Richards enjoys hearing the feedback about her work.

Ideus agrees. Art in the Park attracts a more diverse crowd than what you usually see at galleries, she said.

"People are here to have fun and look. There's no pressure," Ideus said.

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