By Linda Kirkpatrick, for the Courier
Representing some of Evergreen’s newer artists along with some who are well established, Open Door Studios pulled off its 21st annual tour this past weekend despite the constrictions of COVID-19.
The idea of a studio tour stemmed from artist David Cuin’s visit to Oxford, England, where artists’ studios were on tour for weeks. Evergreen’s tour started in 2000 with 20 artists and this year had 19 after seeing a spike to an all-time high of 39 artists a year ago. The tour, known for its variety of art, was in no way compromised.
This was Andi Burnum’s first year on the tour with her paper mosaics. The Kansas farmgirl from Atwood developed the art in high school when a teacher felt Andi was using up the school’s art supplies faster than they could afford.
The prolific painter needed to slow down, so the teacher gave her an assignment that required repurposing magazines, tearing tiny pieces of photos as the medium. With tweezers in hand, Burnum creates contemporary art that speaks to the viewer. Her subjects are often cows or other animals.
Nancy Brewster’s love for fiber art traces to studying anthropology and interior design. Hailing from Bradford, Pa., and having attended college in Colorado, she’s spent the past 20 years creating her own weavings, often using them to make soft sculptures such as horses and kokopellis as well as wall hangings.
Long since the days of selling headbands and bracelets as a hippie on the streets of Berkeley 50-plus years ago, Ron Isaacson still finds pleasure in the unusual.
“I’m an animal rights person,” he says, explaining his mission to repurpose leathers used for sofas and purses. The hides find new life as avian creatures, colorful birds from around the world.
Christina Oddo, a graduate of Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia, has been doing art “for as long as I could hold a pencil,” she says, “but full-time since 2009.”
She finds a way to blend pastels and acrylics in her landscapes, emphasizing light to give people hope and using sanded paper to create texture. New to the Evergreen area, she and her husband are building a home in Evergreen Meadows.
Artist/musician Wendi Richardson is also into repurposing since her 16-year hiatus from what she’d learned with her art degree.
“I was terrified I couldn’t do it anymore!” she said.
Drawn to Evergreen because of its reputation for attracting artists — but not wanting to compete with any of them — she took up painting tin ceiling tiles. This Connecticut transplant has been here for more than three years.
Bill Varner admits he was “never interested in art” until his wife made him go on an Open Door Studios tour several years back. The product developer was inspired to utilize the computer programs used for advertising to express his interpretation of the world around him, transforming photographs of our mountain environment into sought-after impressionistic works of art.
Richardson and Oddo shared a destination high up across the Clear Creek County line. Tour-goers often remark that they get to areas they never knew existed. Those who ventured that far were treated to live music and vocals by Lisa Delia and Bill Schlottman.
Fifty-year resident Roger Ambrosier’s works reflect memories of Missouri, where he grew up on a little farm.
“The muted colors — nothing sharp — are always very subtle,” he says of his atmospheric style.
“Humidity softens everything,” he adds, pointing to his sunrises and sunsets.
Social-worker-turned-quilter Bonnie Schehter-Orin enjoys pushing the limit when it comes to putting a lot of colors and textures together. She worked as a social worker at Evergreen Middle School for 19 years and helped with Camp Comfort, a bereavement camp for kids who have lost a parent or loved one.
“Now I’m just addicted to fabric and color!” she says of her 20-year stint piecing fabrics together.
Adapting to the out-of-doors for displaying art, Bonnie’s setting made use of clotheslines between the trees and a bright yellow 1971 VW Superbeetle to catch the eye of passersby.)
The tour confirmed what Evergreen has been known for — welcoming newcomers into the fold.