Group wants art museum in Steamboat

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Build it, and they will come. Or, more accurately, build it, and they can come. They are waiting.

Through contacts made last year during the Northwest Colorado Mexican Cultural Festival, all kinds of doors have opened, including the chance to exhibit major works of art by some of the best-known Mexican artists of the past century.

"We may have an opportunity to exhibit high quality Mexican art through the Mexican Consulate in Denver," said City of Steamboat Springs Intergovernmental Services Director Linda Kakela. "But it does require a high quality exhibition space."

The Consulate has offered Steamboat Springs art lovers access to works by major Mexican muralists, such as Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

Since first learning of the opportunity, Steamboat already may have seen one exhibit come and go because of a lack of museum-quality exhibition space. One such show, "Siqueiros: Spirit of a Revolutionary," is now on display at the Museo de las Americas in Denver, highlighting the work of one of the greatest Mexican artists, Siqueiros.

Now, local artist Robert Dieckhoff -- with the support of Kakela and Nancy Kramer, executive director at the Steamboat Springs Arts Council -- is looking for a space to exhibit a show of 42 sketches by Rivera.

For the Mexican muralist exhibits to come to Steamboat, a space with temperature control, proper lighting and security must be found. The pieces in the Sequeiros show are worth more than $2 million and would require tight security.

Dieckhoff's search has led others to look more closely at the need for a permanent art museum or museum-quality exhibition space in Steamboat to bring high caliber art to the area.

"We need a museum," Dieck--hoff said. "A museum would seed our local art community. It would create a focal point or a landmark for cultural growth in this town.

"Already, we have some decent art in Steamboat that needs to be protected. A museum would offer the opportunity for preservation as well as an information source for people who do have art collections."

If he finds a space that meets all the criteria, Dieckhoff hopes to see the Rivera exhibit come to Steamboat as early as November.

"Since I started looking, I've found there isn't much available," he said. "This could be our opportunity to build one.

"People say we are a small community. We can't afford a museum, but it's a horse-and-cart thing. It's a leap of faith. Build it, and they will come.

"In this case, we already have art waiting. To get those shows here would be a coup for Steamboat."

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