Sandra Sherrod: Connecting ranching and art

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— The connection between artists and ranching has a long history, even in the Yampa Valley. The paintings and sculptures of cows, horses, hay bales and cowboys are favorite subjects.

Curtis Zabel and Edie Dismuke sparked a love between ranching and local collectors in the 1970s. Both artists were homegrown, and both depicted the ranching heritage of the valley. However, a new connection between artists and ranching has emerged - local artists from the Artists' Gallery of Steamboat and the Community Agriculture Alliance. The word "community" needs to be stressed.

Three artists from the Artists' Gallery of Steamboat have named Community Agriculture Alliance as the nonprofit they will support in their December show, which opens Dec. 7. Barb Sanders has been photographing ranch life and buildings for 12 years. However, the completed works are etchings rather than photographs. This process is accomplished by exposing the photo and etching the image on a metal plate. Then her images are printed on high-quality paper. Denise Bohart Brown does fused glasswork and quilts inspired by our local environment and her Eastern Colorado ranching heritage. Dancy St. John's plein air oil paintings depict local scenes, including scenes from ranches near her home. Ten percent of selected works purchased that evening will be donated to the Agriculture Alliance.

To further the connection between the artists and the Community Agriculture Alliance is Northwest Colorado Products, a project headed by Nancy Kramer. This project has recently been studied by the Daniels Business College of Denver University, and the completed study is now in the process of being implemented. John St. John (Dancy's husband), the owner of Hog Island Boat Works, and Terry Brown (Denise's husband), owner of Wing-Time, are two young entrepreneurs who will be part of the Northwest Colorado Products program.

An additional connection between the artists and the Community Agriculture Alliance started this spring when artists from the Artists' Gallery of Steamboat contacted Ag Alliance ranchers and asked if they could photograph and paint scenes from their ranch sites. The paintings started with the lambing season at Greg Brown's ranch, chickens and pigs at the Delaneys, and went all the way to Yampa to do some paintings on the Rossi ranch. And lastly, the Daughenbaugh ranch became a favorite. These paintings will be part of the December show throughout the gallery.

The final connection between community, the artists, the entrepreneurs and the local ranches will be food prepared by Nancy Kramer at the opening.

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