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Salida Arts Festival speaks to Salida's status as a solid artistic community 

click to enlarge MARK FREEMAN
  • Mark Freeman

Folks throughout Colorado have begun to consider Salida, our neighbor to the west, an up-and-coming artistic bastion, an impressive reputation given its size (about 5,300 residents). Part of that is due to Salida's ArtWalk, a huge annual studio tour that celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. But according to Jerry Scavezze, owner of Salida's Gallery 150, the real draw is the culture its residents have cultivated. Scavezze, a goldsmith by trade, has lived in Salida since 1979, and he opened Gallery 150 about 22 years ago.

He says: "Those few artists that have been here that long like to think it's because of us that Salida became hip and cool."

According to Scavezze, the town was relatively poor when he moved in. With a great portion of residents unemployed and houses for sale on every corner, studio space came cheap.

"I think the artists are always the first ones in, whether it be Soho or Greenwich Village, or Salida," he says. After the artists move in, a community grows around them.

With young and new creatives joining the ranks of veterans like Scavezze, and with the work such veterans have put in over the years, Salida has officially earned its pin on the map — which may be one reason events like this weekend's Salida Arts Festival are possible.

The arts fest, which Scavezze curates and organizes, brings in artists from all over the country, specializing in all manner of media from sculpture to painting to jewelry to, well, whatever other "quality work" Scavezze finds throughout his travels. With 55 artists showcasing and selling, Scavezze says there's something for everybody, which accounts for both taste and price.

After enjoying the live acoustic music (1-4 p.m. both days of the festival), and browsing art from these touring artists, attendees are encouraged to explore the wider community of Salida, and to see what all the hubbub is about.

In addition to Gallery 150, Scavezze recommends folks check out Culture Clash, which he says showcases "nice work, top-drawer." Eye Candy, too, gets his recommendation, a "crazy place" that sells local artwork as well as vintage and recycled pieces. We at the Indy have profiled, and can recommend, Bork & Watkins Studio-Gallery, run by Salida artists Karen Watkins and Carl Bork; and Bungled Jungle, a gallery of unique and whimsical sculptures.

As our own arts community grows and flourishes, we shouldn't lose sight of what's happening in neighboring towns. Salida makes for an easy and artistic day trip, and this is a good weekend to plan for it.

July 22, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., July 23, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Centennial Park, 410 W. Rainbow Blvd., salidaartsfestival.com.

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