The writing is on the walls of the Depot Art Center. For the art students of Colorado Mountain College, times are changing.
The college's art department exists in the trunks of cars belonging to 13 part-time instructors and in boxes they carried in and packed with items from Bristol Hall. The nearly 400 art students enrolled this year are the best proof of an art department that previously existed mostly on paper.
"Full Spectrum," a multimedia exhibit of artwork by students of all ages in Routt County as well as work by Colorado Mountain College faculty and staff, is on display through April 25 at the Depot Art Center. Call 879-9008.
But in the past five years, demand for a bigger, better, more permanent art program has poured off the registration books like water spilling out of its container.
Next fall, things will begin to change. This year, CMC hired Carolyn Peters as the director of liberal arts. Under her guard, the art department was given two rooms in Monson Hall that are being remodeled. By the fall semester, the rooms will have sinks, cupboards and locking storage cabinets where teachers and students can leave art materials.
"Our art instructors are the best in the community, but they need a good place to work, so they can work seriously with students," Peters said.
The new permanence for the art department also includes plans to hire a full-time instructor, add new classes and find an exhibition space on campus for student work.
Until now, CMC students were given one chance a year to show their work at the annual "Full Spectrum" show, hosted by the Depot Art Center.
The annual show opened last week. Stretching from the main gallery into the Small Works Gallery and filling the Depot's luggage room, the show features work from all of Routt County's art students from preschool to college, as well as the work of faculty and staff.
When the show's curator, CMC art instructor Patricia Branstead, looks at the work, she sees the beginning of a new era in Steamboat.
"The art department is about to explode," Branstead said. "It's becoming a focus at the college that there hasn't been before. We're going to have real facilities, and I'm hoping more people from the community will be tempted to take classes by this show."
"Full Spectrum" lives up to its name with art ranging from cutting-edge sculpture to traditional realism.
CMC added to its catalogue this year a sculpture class taught by Rachel Small. The work Small's students produced was encouraging.
"Biology" by Taylore Beckman featured seven plaster faces, some smothered with cellophane, and stenciled through the whole piece were scraps of thoughts about L-O-V-E. Beckman showed another piece titled "Waxed Tampax" -- a series of candles made from, what else, waxed Tampax.
"I hope seeing these reactionary works will encourage students in other classes to experiment," Branstead said. "I'd like to see more of it and with these new facilities, I think this can really go somewhere."
Among her students, Branstead pointed to the work of Andrea Abramson as an example of what she wanted to see from her students. Abramson has taken Painting 1, 2 and 3 classes.
"She learned the basics of color theory and art history," Branstead said. "Now, she is learning to think as an artist. She's not just making another landscape, she's in that state of investigation. Artists find their own aesthetic by experimenting, not just repeating things."