Yampa coffee shop supports local, regional art scene

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Tom Fox, a prostate cancer survivor, packs for a vacation to Canada while at his home in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday afternoon. Fox, who owns and operates Fox Construction, says he hopes to see the formation of a support group in the Yampa Valley in the near future for men dealing with prostate cancer.

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Yampa's Leisure Mountain Studio Gallery Coffee features an artist once a month. Longtime Yampa resident and artist Nita Herold Naugle's work is being featured in July.

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Yampa artist Nita Herold Naugle's work is being featured this month at Leisure Mountain Studio in Yampa. Naugle said her art is inspired by living in Northwestern Colorado.

— Living in Northwest Colorado has inspired longtime Yampa resident and artist Nita Herold Naugle's creativity since she was a child.

"I've been into art since before elementary school, when it was more of a hobby," she said. "I didn't realize then that this is what I was going to end up doing the rest of my life."

Naugle, who has dabbled in a plethora of media, said she prefers oil paints as her primary medium.

"I do a little bit of everything," she said.

Naugle's work is being displayed until the end of July at Leisure Mountain Studio Gallery Coffee in Yampa. The gallery's owners, Debbie and J-Jay Johnson, feature work by a new local or regional artist every month. Wall space is booked until May 2008.

Debbie Johnson said it is important to her and her husband to support the South Routt art community.

"We are getting quite a following of people who come through every month just to check out what's new," she said.

Featuring different artists every month has added some diversity to the gallery's walls, Johnson said.

"A lot of times, we don't see the art until it goes up," she said. "We've never been disappointed."

Naugle said she was grateful for the opportunity to display her work, especially since the Johnsons do not charge a commission.

"It's very generous of them, practically unheard of," she said.

Naugle said her artistic ability is hereditary and that she follows in a long line of artists.

"It's always been a family thing," she said. "I was always aware of art because of my mom and dad," Carl and Rita Herold.

Throughout the years, Naugle has watched the South Routt art community continue to grow and band together.

"It is amazing how many hidden artists there are in South Routt that are quiet about it," she said.

Several South Routt artists have even begun meeting weekly, she said.

"It's nice to have the support and the common ground and common language that comes from being around other artists," she said.

Johnson said she hopes other Routt County residents will make the trip to Yampa to check out the art.

"I'm always telling people it's worth the drive here to see what the South Routt community has to offer," she said. "It's a great opportunity to explore your next-door community, your own backyard."

Leisure Mountain is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Upcoming artists include Gary "Froggy" Saunders in August and John Morgan in September.

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