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CB Arts Festival 2017

The jewel of CB festivals is going strong at 45

by Dawne Belloise

Up here where the air is thinner, the August mornings and evenings are already beginning to cool off and the afternoon rains feed the wildflowers still splashing their colors across the canvas of high alpine meadows and slopes.

Meanwhile, on the streets downtown, artists, musicians and visiting throngs will color the weekend with their works at the 45th Crested Butte Arts Festival, August 4-6.

The tent and street events are free and range from the Kid’s Art Alley with children’s art projects to a Gypsy Lounge with Gypsy jazz music at Second Street and two days of practically non-stop concerts and performances on the Ragged Mountain Stage at Third Street.

Festival executive director Juliette Eymere is excited that artists have arrived in town and the event is kicking off. “We’re in production mode and it’s what we’ve worked for all year,” she explains. “It’s like a wedding where everyone’s coming in and you get to see old friends and people you haven’t seen in a while.”

Eymere says, “I always get really excited for our returning visual artists, like Richard Harrington, a painter from Oregon. I love his work and mostly we just love him. He’s a real pleasure to work with, an amazing attitude and he’s part of our festival family.”

There’ll be three local artists featured this year—Kate Seeley, drawing and graphics; Don Mancini, wood worker; and Ivy McNulty, jewelry.

The Kid’s Art Alley will feature free projects for kids and families to learn and create sculpture, spin art, water gun art, and jewelry. The tent is located at Second Street and Elk Avenue.

There are 159 visual artists this year set up in 181 booths that line Elk Avenue from First Street down to Fifth. Additionally, there are five booths for local non-profit groups: the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association, the Crested Butte Film Festival, Mountain Manners, the Avalanche Center and the Rotary Club, which will be selling those duckies for the much-anticipated Rubber Duckie Race, to be held Sunday at 2 p.m.

There’s an Art of Living Design Suite on Fifth and Elk this year, a tent sponsored by Denver’s Mountain Living Magazine and Colorado Homes and Lifestyles Magazine.

Three local businesses will be on hand—Mountain Colors, Interior Visions, and Star House Goods—to bring their own personal-flare ideas for décor, lighting, how to use art in your home, and where to put your art and how to light it. The businesses will have printed information that you can take home.

Once again this year the art auction tent will display the work of artists who offer to donate a piece of their work to the silent auction, which funds the ArtReach program that gives back to the Crested Butte community through the Community Enrichment Program at the Crested Butte Community Schools (CBCS).

In the past, the Enrichment Program has funded projects like the mobile art gallery in CBCS and brought Celebrate the Beat to the school. It’s a grant to the art department of CBCS for whatever their needs are. In return for their donation, the artists are invited to take breaks at the VIP house, and they’re fed well all day, including beer, wine and coffee, in a beautiful spot to get out of the elements.

The relatively new Emerging Artist program has been quite successful. Eymeyer explains, “We sponsored a Western State Colorado University [WSCU] student to create a piece for the festival. The students apply and submit their proposals. Working with WSCU and Joe Bob Merritt, at the beginning of the school year we put out a call for artists to the students to create an installation piece to show at the festival. Joe Bob Merritt is the mentor to the student with the winning design, and that student is a paid artist.”

This year, the successful bid went to Chris Belgard who created a fiber piece called House of the Spider’s Daughter, an interactive structure that references and celebrates the origin story of fiber art and the long lineage of female artists who have created it in their homes. The installation is set up in front of the Gypsy Lounge.

Over on the Ragged Mountain stage, the bluegrass sounds of Masontown open the weekend festivities and the music on Friday evening at 4 p.m., followed by all-time favorite Bruce Hayes, a.k.a. the one-maniac band, after whom Masontown will take the stage once again to finish out the night.

Look for local sweethearts posing as Ruby Chief with Tyler Lucas and friends, at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

The Sweet Lilies take to the stage Saturday at 1 p.m.

Also returning are Colorado darlings Halden Wofford & The Hi Beams, backed by an amazing cast of top-notch musicians, serving up a potent mix of rocked-up honkytonk, Western swing, Dylanesque originals and Spaghetti Western epics, from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

The Taylor Scott Band weaves its magic on Sunday from 2:30 to 5 p.m.

Mysto the Magi does his stage illusion Saturday and Sunday at high noon, too.

You can get the entire music schedule online.

Over in the Gypsy Lounge on Second Street, performers of the Gypsy Jazz genre bring their music throughout the day with the local Gypsy Jazz Social Club, Roma Ransom and Flores y la Noche.

With the growing number of attendees every year to the Crested Butte Art Festival, Eymere notes, “We’re bringing in clientele who are interested, savvy, and sophisticated art buyers. I imagine it’s good news for all the art galleries in town. We’re trying to make it successful for the artists and the people we’re trying to bring in can afford this art. For many it may be a luxury item purchase and that’s the clientele we’re trying to appeal to. We want to have a balanced show, things that everybody can purchase, but really our goal is to create a fine arts and fine craft show. It’s not a priority for everybody, and we understand that, and that’s why we’ve added other options, events that are free so everyone can participate. There’s so much to do—free music, free food, free artists demonstrations—so you can still be immersed in the arts without having to pay anything.

“What’s really important to us,” she continues, “is that although we’re only a weekend festival, we give money back locally to the community throughout the year in our ArtReach programs, like the Emerging Artist Program, and funds to the Crested Butte Community School for students’ art supplies. The proceeds from the silent auction during the Art Festival go to sustaining the event and our ArtReach program.”

The Crested Butte Art Festival is always a favorite colorful and jam-packed weekend for locals, tourists and families and Eymere says, “Mostly, we just want people to come and enjoy!”

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