What’s happening at the co-op?

Plans for the new year have begun at the Pagosa Artisans’ Co-op.

The year 2007 was a wonderful and successful first year. We surprised ourselves. With our core of seven Artisans, within six months we became 32. We transformed an old house into a beautiful and delightful place where we are proud to show and sell our art and make connections with other artists and supporters.

The Co-op is excited to begin 2008 with its All-Community Art Contest. The contest will begin Jan. 2 and the artists in the elementary grades have the month of January to submit their art to the Co-op. The deadline is Jan. 31. The winners will be celebrated at a reception the following month. There will be winners from the first and second grades and winners from the third and fourth grades.

There will be prizes from the following sponsors: DSP Pizza, Shang Hai Restaurant, Hot Springs Motel, Ramon’s Mexican Restaurant, La Tazza, Chato’s Restaurant and Tequila’s Restaurant.

Application forms, including deadlines and rules, will be at the Pagosa Artisans’ Co-op, located in the purple house in the 100 block of Pagosa Street. Open daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday noon-4. Call =264-2781 for details.

Artist in the Spotlight

I knew Cynthia Lindsay for several years before she joined the Co-op. She has become of one of my dearest friends and I felt like I could write her story without an interview. But I didn’t dare, you’ll understand when I tell you how this friendship began.

The first time she came to one of my art workshops, I knew this was a person who would not be taught easily. Wanting to show her how to paint a tree, I grabbed one of her brushes and proceeded to work on her painting. She came unglued, “Don’t touch my painting,” she screamed and I knew she meant it.

Wow! I thought I was just helping her. After trying to tell Cynthia how to do it, I declared to her in front of the class, “You have an unteachable spirit.” The class choked with horror. They were waiting to see what was going to happen next. Would it be a knock-down-drag-out fight? The friendship was preserved by sheer grace. Cynthia was the first artist I called to join the Co-op. I knew she would be a great asset to the Co-op.

Cynthia can do just about anything and she does everything well. She has taught herself how. I asked her to name some of the things she has done and is doing and she started naming them. “I like to sew clothes, bags and purses, I do quilted picture art, paint on furniture, jewelry, ceramics, carvings in clay, refinish furniture and reupholster and of course, stained glass.

“I started working in stained glass in 1984. I learned from a man giving lessons. I built a little frog and from there I taught myself. I learn better on my own. I read magazines and art books and I see how it’s done.

“I feel like anything I want to do, I can do. There are things that don’t interest me and I don’t do them, but if I want to do it, I will at least try it.

“I feel like a fake,” Cynthia says. “I’m just having fun doing these things. I’ve never felt like an artist. I can just do things. I would have a hard time narrowing all the things I do to three. I see things, it just spins off and I try something different.”

I asked Cynthia. “What about all the art supplies and tools. You’ve got to have a lot of money into it, just to get set up. How do you justify the expense?”

“I get upset with myself when I buy all this stuff and it doesn’t pan out, but sooner or later I use it. I need to say no to myself. It might take a few years but I usually get my money back.”

“What drives you?” I asked.

“The important thing is to create what we want to do. That’s what drives me. Ideas come to me and I am driven to figure them out and to do it differently. The Co-op also drives me. I didn’t put my art in the Co-op to sell, it just sold and that gives me the incentive to keep trying new things.”

Cynthia’s husband, John, is her biggest supporter. They started coming to Pagosa in 1995. They built their house and moved here permanently in 2004. They recently finished a studio just for all of Cynthia’s art projects.

“John is an inventor in his own right. He sees a need when I am trying to do something and he will invent something for me to work with. He probably wishes that I didn’t do all the things I do, but he supports me anyway.”

When I look at Cynthia’s stained glass jewelry boxes and hanging panels in the Co-op, I am amazed at the things Cynthia can do and has learned from her first beginning of making a little frog.

She is my painting buddy and a great friend. We still laugh at our first encounter when I tried to teach her how to paint. Once in a while Cynthia asks my advice when she doesn’t know where to go on her painting but one thing I have learned, I don’t touch her painting.

Cynthia, you’re not a fake. You’re one of the most honest people I know. You’re an artist with both feet on the ground which is unusual. I have enjoyed singing your praises.

Life in the Artist Lane

“In a healthy society, the artist is the ruler” is a quote from our last article. I thought it would be fun to embellish the thought. I am sure that statement would make the concrete thinkers shake in their boots. This world would surely go crazy. Would checkbooks ever be balanced again? Would meetings ever start on time? Would businesses succeed? If it is spontaneous, then that’s the way it will be.

If artists ruled! The thought became humorous to me. I got a glimpse of flowers and all kinds of art work painted on cars and moving vehicles, graffiti on bridges and underpasses, of course in good taste. Anything that has a flat surface, I would paint on. There would be painted bicycle fences, old cars for flower boxes and painted doors. It would be a colorful world for sure and everyone would be a poet.

As a concrete thinker, my sweet Al always shudders when I am the one in charge of collecting the money. He knows that I will come up short every time. There is always some poor soul who needs a little help and I always remember that at one time I didn’t have it either and some kind soul helped me. “Oh sure, come on, there’s always room for one more.”

Al says, “Betty, if you are in business you can’t buy shoe laces for a nickel and sell them for a nickel.” I say, “I know,” like some teenager who doesn’t know and I know that I will probably give it away anyway. It looks like I am a soft touch, but I see it’s the way it should be.

I decided that there must be a deeper meaning to this statement, “In a healthy society, the artist is the ruler”, so I talked to my cracked pot friend who lives in a true artist fashion and he plumbed a little deeper.

Try to follow this thought from an artistic mind.

“I agree with it 100 percent,” he said, “If we are living right as a society, very little needs to be done. A maxim from the Orient says, ‘he who rules best, rules least.’

“If an artist rules, there would be a gloriously alternative, the one producing beauty would be honored and would not have to struggle, and such a person would have the ability to fulfill his calling, instead of being a Gypsy or Bohemian in the eyes of society and living at odds with the way of society.”

Ernest Hemingway, the writer, says it best: “Truth has a certain ring to it. The business of things being beautiful has a certain ring to it. It is so simple. A child can understand lies.”

I think I can decipher his train of thought. As the true artist rules in beauty and truth with simplicity, the rest of us know it’s not about painting flowers on mailboxes; it is a state of mind of learning the art of living.

We wish for you this new year, eyes to see the beauty in others, and a heart to know truth and live artfully. God bless you.

Quote for the Week: “The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery” — Francis Bacon.

Photo courtesy Betty Slade
Cynthia Lindsay is an artist whose work takes many directions — from stained glass to ceramics, to painting, sculpting and sewing. Lindsay was the first artist called to join the newly-formed Pagosa Artisans Co-op.