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Artists Denny Rose and Donna Merchant-Crooks at Art in the Garden

Watercolor artist and instructor Denny Rose, along artist Donna Merchant-Crooks, will be among the 15 talented artists participating in the second annual Art in the Garden Festival at El Rancho Pinoso in the Upper Blanco Basin, on Saturday, August 15, from 3 to 7 p.m.

Denny Rose grew up in North Carolina and was awarded a scholarship to pursue art in college. Though she never stopped creating, she received a degree in marketing and ended up with a 25-year career in Texas in that field. But in 1990, as that career path was winding down, she happened to take a watercolor workshop by expert watercolorist Ernie Haring. Ernie’s teaching employed the use of a large, overhead mirror so students could observe, then try independently after his example. This workshop resulted in Denny redirecting her creativity toward watercolor. She became a full-time watercolorist in 1993.

Two years later she and her husband moved from Texas to Pagosa Springs, where she became involved in the Arts Council here. She discovered a need for a beginning watercolor teacher, and taught numerous workshops for the Arts Council and other sponsors before joining with Ginnie Bartlett, 11 years ago, to share the teaching job at Wyndham. The two of them also began workshops seven years ago for PSAC at the Community Center. Their classes have been very popular and successful, offered through Wyndham as well as through the Pagosa Springs Art Council.

Denny loves teaching. Students in her three-hour beginning class through Wyndham end up with a watercolor suitable for framing. She also offers private instruction, and her students will be displaying thieir work at the Sisson Library during August. Denny has also produced a series of Colorado Cabin watercolors, cards, and she specializes in watercolors of homes by commission. Her greatest satisfaction is in passing on her talent to others by teaching.

Donna Merchant-Crooks chooses to be challenged. She has transitioned from painting to wood carving to bronze sculpture. She believes that anything is possible as long as it is broken down and done in increments, step by step.

Donna grew up in large family in the country, outside of Shelley, Idaho. She learned independence and self-reliance from her mother, who was creative and resourceful in guiding the family to be self-sufficient in meeting the needs of life.

Donna took art classes in high school, but is more self-taught than through formal training. She was an Art Therapist and a Drug and Alcohol Counselor in Idaho. She worked as a carpenter when she came to Pagosa Springs and later owned her own small construction company.

Working with wood inspired her to try carving. She began by carving doors by commission, and now also does wall hangings, desktops, mantels, and has recently been carving chairs. She strives to stretch her ability, to reach the highest potential. She just completed a bronze sculpture which is displayed at Handcrafted Interiors in Pagosa Springs.

Denny will be painting and displaying a number of her smaller, less expensive watercolors, including several florals, at Art in the Garden. Donna plans to carve a wooden wall hanging of an artist at work at Art in the Garden.

The Art in the Garden Festival is a wonderful afternoon event of fine art, gourmet food, and live music in a beautiful Archuleta County mountain setting. Tickets are on sale for $30 at Plaid Pony, Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, and Community United Methodist Church. It will take place on Saturday, Aug.15, from 3 to 7 p.m. All proceeds, including 30 percent of fine art sales, go to the CUMC Community Assistance Fund, that helps those in need in Archuleta County, regardless of religious affiliation.

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