Arts Council reflects back, steps forward

 Pagosa Springs Arts Council President Linda Echterhoff reflects on the organization’s forward movement during the past year. “I’m glad to be a part of this board and see us making such a difference in our community,” said Echterhoff. “A vibrant community is defined by its commitment to the arts.”

 The Arts Council didn’t just magically happen; it grew out of the passion and vision of a small group of Pagosans that included such notables as stained glass artist Joan Rohwer. One might say that Rohwer was the glue that kept this original group focused on its goal — to develop the Arts Council. But Rohwer was not alone in her efforts as Tammy McDowell, Ken Morrison, Melissa Coll and Michael Hughes served jointly with Rohwer on the Arts Council’s first board of directors.

 Time has past, board members and other volunteers have come and gone, all having contributed significantly to the success of the Arts Council in making a positive community impact. Through their unyielding service, past board presidents Joan Rohwer, Tammy McDowell, Jan Brookshier, Phyl Daleski, Carol Fulenwider, Doris Green and Jean Smith, and their teams of volunteers, have facilitated the Arts Council to remain true to its vision and mission, helping ensure a flourishing and diverse community by enriching lives through all the arts.

 Summing up the year’s accomplishments — including the Pagosa Mountain Hospital Four Corners Art Competition, which provided sponsorship for the addition of nine new art works to the Hospital’s permanent art collection, crowds in excess of 200 during the Pagosa Springs Artist Studio Tour, the delightfully successful Larry Porter piano concert and Art Auction fund-raising efforts, and inspiring the Youth Art Camp Habitat Bird House Project — Echterhoff said, “the organization is needed in our community now more than ever before.

 “With an approximate $20,000 annual budget, only with the selfless financial and in-kind support of our membership, volunteers and patrons are we able to continue to serve and provide positive Arts programming for our community,” said Echterhoff. “On behalf of our board of directors, I thank each and every one of you who supports the Arts Council in so many ways, allowing us to present a successful program every year.”

The community’s contributions to the Arts Council provide the citizens of greater Pagosa Springs an improved quality of life, not only through the support of arts education opportunities for children, youth and adults alike, but also by facilitating a cultural tourism destination for area tourists. “We leverage our local financial resources through matching grants from such grant-making foundations as Colorado Council on the Arts, El Pomar Foundation, Wells Fargo Rocky Mountain Region Community Assistance Fund, and La Plata Electric Round-up Foundation,” said Echterhoff. “The grant awards we receive provide us on average with $2,000 to $4,000 in supplemental funds per year.”

 With more than 300 memberships, many of these family memberships, the Arts Council represents the interests of as many as 500 people in the greater Pagosa Springs area. “The impacts of our activities reach far beyond our membership however,” said Echterhoff. “We employ a part-time staff and artists locally, and purchase local goods and services. Our thirty-two workshops offered this year, from painting in all media to floral arrangement and beading, not only provided art education classes for local youth and adults, but also supplemented the income of nearly twenty artists, most of which are residents of the greater Pagosa Springs area.” The Arts Council’s Town Park Gallery and Gift Shop and this year’s Pagosa Springs Artist Studio Tour offered additional income opportunities for local artists through art sales. All points that prove the Arts Council is an economic driver in Pagosa Springs that supports local jobs and generates local revenue.

 The Arts Council’s 300 square-foot Town Park Gallery provides local and regional artists with a public visual arts space for exhibit of their works, to the delight of local residents and area tourists seeking a venue for cultural tourism. “This year we sponsored nine onsite exhibits, including exhibits by the Pagosa Springs High School’s Advanced Art students, youth artists participating in the Youth Art Camp workshop, and adult artists participating in the ever-popular workshops of master artist Pierre Mion, and professional watercolor artists Denny Rose and Ginnie Bartlett,” said Echterhoff. The Arts Council’s exhibit venue is equally available to emerging and professional artists alike. “Mentoring our local emerging artists in their development as artists is a particularly important goal of the current Board,” added Echterhoff.

 The Arts Council also combined efforts this year with the Pagosa Mountain Hospital Art Committee to conduct the first Four Corners Art Competition, held within the public spaces of Pagosa Mountain Hospital. “We were honored to be a part of this collaborative effort,” said Echterhoff. The focus of this exhibit was to provide sponsorship for the addition of new art works to the Hospital’s permanent art collection. “Art is transformational in itself. But when tapped for its healing force, art yields profound healing effects beyond the bounds of traditional medicine.” A tremendous success, this exhibit resulted in the sponsorship of nine new pieces and donation by an artist of two additional art works. The sponsorship sales from this exhibit benefitted four Pagosa artists, one Bayfield artist and two Durango artists. Echterhoff exclaimed, “These art works will enrich everyone who enters the Hospital. The generosity of our community is astounding, and we are deeply grateful for our donors’ support.”

 This year’s Youth Art Camp workshop sponsored three of the seven youth (ages 11 to 16) who attended the workshop to expand their artistic knowledge and appreciation. These youngsters were sponsored via scholarships funded jointly by the Arts Council and matching grants from El Pomar Foundation and Wells Fargo Rocky Mountain Region Community Assistance Fund. “Without sponsorship, these youth low-income families would not have been able to attend the three-week art day camp,” said Echterhoff. The bird houses created during this year’s Youth Art Camp were auctioned off, with the proceeds going to support Habitat for Humanity.

 Being a publicly-supported entity, the Arts Council offers activities and events that appeal to a wide range of interests. “Our seven (soon to be nine) volunteer board members and approximately twenty additional volunteers work diligently to create and coordinate our arts programs to meet the needs of the community,” said Echterhoff. “Our tireless volunteers devote well over three-thousand hours per year to this cause. It is their passion and responsibility to ensure that the arts grow in ways that are meaningful and beneficial to the community.”

 Pagosa Springs Arts Council has been providing innovative, creative and diverse experiences in the Arts since 1988 (for nearly 20 years). This 501(c) (3) non-profit organization serves Pagosa Springs with arts leadership and dynamic educational arts and humanities programs that include workshops, visual arts exhibits, artist studio tours, participation in public art efforts, 501(c) (3) oversight for other non-profit Arts divisions such as Acoustic Trail, Inc., and important fund-raising events such as art auctions, home and garden tours, the Pagosa Country calendar and more. We are an economic driver and can be even more so with a strategic approach to growth of the Arts in Pagosa Springs. “I applaud each and every one of you who continue your support of the Pagosa Springs Arts Council through your membership, service and patronage,” said Echterhoff.

 “If you want to be a part of our dynamic organization, join us as a member or volunteer by contacting Roxanne Schick, our administrative coordinator, at 264-5020 or Our winter hours are Thursdays, noon to 4 p.m., but you can leave a telephone message anytime for Roxanne to return your call.

 “It’s not about us; it’s about our community, Pagosa Springs.”

Photo courtesy PSAC
Noted Pagosa sculptor Roberto Garcia places a bronze ingot into the crucible at his foundry during the annual PSAC studio tour in September 2008.

Photo courtesy PSAC
Pagosa jewelry artist Elizabeth Claire Baldwin demonstrates her craft at Wild Spirit Gallery at an artists’ studio tour event sponsored by Pagosa Springs Arts Council.