Smithsonian comes to Yampa

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— April is a very big month for the town of Yampa.

Not only is the town celebrating its centennial with the "Party of the Century," it also is hosting a special exhibit called "Inspirations from the Forest." The exhibit items are on loan from the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

Yampa Ranger District visitor information specialist Lee Duerksen said Yampa is the only municipality in Colorado privy to the exhibit, which will feature 16 panels illustrating how artists, writers and musicians draw inspiration from nature.

"The exhibition explores the ways in which natural landscapes have inspired artists to create enduring works of art that reminds us of the importance of preserving our natural resources," Duerksen said.

The exhibit will include logger poetry, photographs, quilts and totem pole carvings from artists throughout the country.

Duerksen said the Yampa Ranger District has planned several activities for Yampa and Routt County residents in conjunction with the exhibit. The district is holding a drawing class, activities for children and art evenings from Wednesday to April 25.

The exhibit also will be on display during Yampa's 100th birthday celebration Sunday. Duerksen said the exhibit will be moved from the Yampa Ranger District to South Routt Elementary School. In addition to the panels on loan from the Smithsonian, Duerksen said the exhibit will feature art from local Yampa and Routt County artists whose work is inspired by the Medicine Bow-Routt national forests and nature.

"We are hoping to show the public how inspiring the natural world can be to inspire them to preserve their public lands and heritage. We hope they take pleasure in their natural space," she said.

The 16 Smithsonian panels were developed in 2005 during a Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage festival that commemorated the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Forest Service by highlighting the traditions and cultures of people who live and work on national forest lands.

Duerksen said she applied for use of the exhibit by writing a plan for how the exhibit would be displayed in Yampa.

"We are the only ones in Colo--rado who got (the exhibit). It's kind of a big deal," she said.

Duerksen said the events she has planned to correspond with the exhibit are being funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Colorado Council of the Arts.

Some of the activities will include two art evenings that will feature art from cowboy poets, singers/songwriters, painters, horsehair braiders and hitchers, as well as the panel exhibit; two story-hours for children that will feature stories about bears and owls; a snowshoe tracks hike for South Routt Elementary School students; and a drawing class that is limited to 15 students.

"Yampa doesn't have a lot of things going on like Steamboat does, so it is important to bring this exhibit to Yampa and to show the art our local artists create. I hope this will draw a big crowd," Duerksen said.

For information about any of the events or to donate art to the show, call Duerksen at 638-4516.

-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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