Four walls, four artists

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Margaret Hair

Margaret Hair's column appears Fridays in the 4 Points arts and entertainment section in the Steamboat Today. Contact her at 871-4204 or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com.

Doing a mini-tour of some of the galleries on this month's First Friday Art Walk, I got the chance to catch up on what some of the art spaces downtown have been up to during the past few weeks.

Among other things, this afforded the chance to see local art going up on the walls of the baggage room at the Depot Art Center. Filled with work from artists who aren't represented in any of the galleries in town, the Emerging Artists Gallery is one of the best answers I've seen to the question of how to get more developing artists to show their work - other contenders include a group of contemporary pieces on display at Wired Lounge.

As Linda Laughlin, director of visual arts for the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, said in the bit on page 9 previewing the first Emerging Artist show, fostering new talent is essential to fostering a strong arts community.

It's an attitude that's crucial to ensuring diversity and fresh voices in a local arts community, and it's an attitude that you can't always find in larger towns or cities. And the way Laughlin has set the room up, with a full wall for each applicant, provides motivation to create with some consistency.

Of course, the room only has four walls to feature four artists a month, so it can't be an end-all-be-all to getting more work into the public eye. And submitted work has to be good. I'm going to guess that the last visual art I had a hand in - an ill-conceived, 12-person mural painting project in a rented house that resulted in a lost security deposit - wouldn't make the cut.

But for those who are developing, who have unique voices that haven't found a spot on gallery walls, chances like this one are key.

After writing about art in Steamboat for about five months, I'm relatively certain there is a much higher ratio of artists per capita here than most population centers.

But I'm just as positive that there are plenty of people making art who aren't putting it out in public, either because there isn't a place for it, or they're not quite to the point of seeking gallery representation, or they don't want representation.

Maybe projects like the Emerging Artists Gallery will be a chance to see some of that work.

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