Nonprofit ArtLink sets sights on art museum

Free weekly art shuttle begins May 29

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Pat Walsh works in paint, pastels and monotypes, but lately the dabs of oil paint on her glass palette are starting to dry next to the half-finished canvas on her easel.

Her latest passion is not so much making art as it is introducing art to others.

The hub of activity at the RiverArt Studio shared by Walsh and Susan Scheisser is nowhere near the paintbrushes and turpentine. It is at the computer on the far end of the room and at a small round table, covered with paper and the plans for the future of art tourism in Steamboat. The two have helped set up a new nonprofit called ArtLink, to steer the town toward the opening of an art museum, with several small steps along the way.

"When we moved into this studio, we said we would only do art here. But it hasn't worked out that way. This is how we spend our time," Walsh said as she stood next to Scheisser proofreading something she had just printed from the computer.

The two women couldn't be more different. Walsh is a tall, focused woman who thinks in bulleted lists and understands the financial world.

Scheisser begins her day late in the afternoon long after Walsh is ready to go home. The left brain to Walsh's right brain, she bounces from one idea to the next and lives most of her life in the social realm.

Despite their odd-couple differences, they finish each other's sentences and intuitively split the duties of setting up their shared vision of ArtLink as Steamboat's artistic future.

"I think of it as tilling the soil and planting the seed to have the art museum idea flower over time," Scheisser said.

Artist Robert Dieckhoff is the third partner in the ArtLink partnership, dealing mostly with the long-term planning for the museum, Walsh said.

The first step in the ArtLink vision, approved by a unanimous vote of City Council several months ago, will be a free weekly art shuttle.

The shuttle will run every Thursday, stopping at galleries and artists' studios.

ArtLink asked participating arts venues to prepare four events this summer to be included on the shuttle route. The route will change regularly, Walsh said.

The list of participants includes sculptor Anne Rooney, architect Bill Rangitsch, the Center for Movement Arts, Ceramic Design Group, the Depot arts center, Design Ranch, Jim Selbe, late afternoon vignettes performed at Seventh Street Playhouse and the Yampa River Botanic Park.

The shuttle is a 25-passenger bus provided by Steamboat Springs Transit.

Later in the summer, ArtLink is organizing a contemporary Western art exhibition as part of the 100th Annual Cowboy Roundup Days.

Sponsorship for the shuttle and future art events comes from participants and private donations.

In a recent letter to the lodging community, Scheisser wrote, "ArtLink does have a build-it-and-they-will-come flavor," with the ultimate goal of adding art to the town's economic.

-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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