Since the 1930s Redstone has had a reputation as an artist colony; beginning with nationally acclaimed artist, Frank Mechau, who passed away in 1946, to Jack Roberts, Eric Johnson, Janusz Obst and the list goes on. In 1995 John Buchanan, publisher of the Redstone Reporter (now defunct), and his wife, LeeSanne, decided it was time to spread the word about the wealth of artistic talent tucked away in the mountains. With the help of the Redstone Inn, the Redstone Community Association and individual businesses they organized the first Redstone Art Exhibition and Sale in February of 1996. There were twenty-two local artists participating.
Following the huge success of the show, a group decided they should get together and form a foundation to promote the arts in the valley. The original volunteer board of directors consisted of John Buchanan, Margie Webb, Carrie McDonald, Catherine Moyer and Robert Huntington. They also formed three standing committees: exhibition, workshops and membership.
The mission of the Redstone Art Foundation is five-fold:
- To generate excitement, interest and a passion for the arts.
- To provide an opportunity or venue of participation for artists.
- To integrate the interests of the RAF with the town.
- To establish Redstone as an “Art Colony”.
- To teach professionalism and technique.
The show quickly grew in popularity and displaying the artwork in the Osgood Room at the Inn was no longer feasible. A decision was made to change the show to Labor Day Weekend and have all the artists’ works under a huge tent on the front lawn of the Redstone Inn. Professional guest artists are now invited to display their work along with local talented amateur artists.
Through the years the RAF has presented varied artistic endeavors which include:
- A reading of “Spoon River Anthology, Part 2”
- “An afternoon of readings by “Shakespeare”
- sponsoring ‘artists in residence’ from “The Hermitage Group” showcasing 4 painters from St. Petersbury Russia with a workshop, gala dinner and reception
- A Beaux Arts Ball in October of 2008
- Free Winter Movie Nights featuring movies and documentaries about artists
- Short art related outings, which have included most recently, trips to the Denver Art Museum and the Palisade Peach Blossom Art Show.
- Helping to sponsor the fall “Art Walk”. Local businesses on the Boulevard display artwork by local artists with a reception for each.
From its inception, the RAF has sponsored high quality workshops from a variety of teachers. The workshops are traditionally held in the summer months when several of the teacher/artists enjoy working plein air. Although not a complete list, some teachers have been: Kurt Isgreen, Dan Young, Linda Loeschen, Sandra Kaplan, Diane Kenney, Virginia Blackstock, Joel Johnson, Liz Todd, Connie Hendrix and Wewer Keohane.
A scholarship fund was set up in 2003 with $1245.00 seed money from the Jack Roberts Memorial. The fund was put together to further the education of Roaring Fork High School Seniors who wish to study art. The first recipient was Tia Smilak. The amount of the scholarship has fluctuated over the ensuing years in direct relationship to the success of the Labor Day Weekend Art Show. All profits from the show go to the scholarship fund. Subsequent winners of the scholarship have been: Olivia Britz, Kate Thayn, Theodore Pulver, Kristina Sudds, Annie Tempest, Rebecca Roeber, Michael Black, Savanna Phibbs, Georgia Ackerman, Abriah Wofford, Ticah Burrows, Isabel Mata, Sasha Williams, Jackson Harden, Adjoa Hursey, Benjamin Carpenter, Yazmin Castillo, Chloe Brand, and Emily Mata. The amount awarded has varied from the initial $500 to as much as two scholarships given one year that added up to $5000. We have awarded $31,500 in scholarships thus far.
Although formed as a non-profit Colorado corporation, the RAF had not pursued a 501c3 status. In December of 2006 the RAF was awarded the status of a 501c3 organization. Although this gives the board the opportunity to pursue grants from other organizations, no one has stepped forward to take on this task.
The RAF board of directors continues to be a volunteer group. A huge amount of time and energy is needed to continue to have successful events and the whole community of Redstone gets involved when needed. The Redstone Art Foundation would like to pursue the idea of purchasing a facility in Redstone to use as studio space, workshop space, a community center for plays, musical events, etc. This is a huge dream and, although seemingly impossible, who knows? It might become a reality some day. For a community that boasts 92 full time residents, the magical allure of the valley continues to draw artists that feel the pull and put down their roots in the beauty of the Crystal River Valley.