Local art is coming to Mountain Village Friday, as 11 of the 25 gondolas cabins used to create more socially distanced dining options have been wrapped in vinyl coverings designed by local artists. The art-wrapped cabins have been slowly appearing in the plaza for the past few weeks, but Friday is the official unveiling. The event will take place from 3-6 p.m. in Heritage Plaza.
"It'll be the first time or the only time you'll be able to engage with the artists that were part of their creation," said Zoe Dohnal, Mountain Village’s business development and sustainability director.
The event is a collaboration between the Town of Mountain Village, Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association (TMVOA) and Telluride Arts. It marks the first partnership between the Town of Mountain Village and Telluride Arts. The village prides itself in embracing the "Alpine ski village" aesthetic, said Dohnal, and she believes the cabin art is vital in bringing more art to the village through the pre-existing cabins.
"Adding to that vision with the gondola cabins was a great first step, and they fit well within our plaza. It was a natural next step to push that boundary a little bit more. They (the cabins) are already bright yellow, blue, red, colors that stand out in the plaza. So why not, as we move forward past the pandemic, celebrate that a little bit more?" Dohnal said.
The call for artists was sent out in July 2021 by Telluride Arts. Eleven regional artists were chosen out of 49 applicants. The selection committee had representatives from the town, Telluride Arts and TMVOA, as well as other local artists in the community.
The art ranges from abstract and topography-inspired work to oil- and acrylic-based covers. Each cabin reflects the respective artist's unique style and medium.
Christopher Warren, the creator of Beatnik Prints, is one of the 11 artists. His wrap was inspired by the topography of Mountain Village and the San Juan Mountains. Looking at the Technicolor landscape can be a bit disorienting until one notices, "You are here" in a white bubble pointing toward the exact location of Mountain Village. It is like looking at a map posted at a trailhead, telling you where you are at the moment and where you need to go next.
"I have always been fascinated by topographic maps. I was raised in Durango, so I had some pretty stunning topography to explore as I was growing up," Warren said.
He acknowledged the psychedelic nature of his art will be what people see when they first look at the cabin, but he encourages viewers to take a moment and consider the multiple layers within the piece.
"I hope that once they realize that it is not only a real map, but it also represents the topography around them that they will dive deeper into the image,” Warren said.
After Friday's unveiling, the 11 cabins will be dispersed throughout the plaza, mixed in with the other cabins. They will remain as a permanent fixture in the village. A vinyl plaque will be installed at each cabin, introducing the artist and their artwork.
"It took a lot of people to make this project work," Dohnal said.
For the final product, the Town of Mountain Village reached out to Ken Holyfield with Go Big Banners in Montrose. Holyfield was able to translate the different mediums used by the artists into large vinyl wraps.
Emily Ballou is another featured artist. Her work for the project began as multiple blue, white, and brown abstract oil paintings. She worked with a local photographer who specializes in "large-format printing" to help raise the resolution of the painting so that it could translate into a vinyl wrap without losing any of the detail.
"The gondola installation is made up of images of my original paintings," Ballou explained.
She believes her installation will prompt passersby to stop and reflect as they walk through the plaza.
"Whether one of my pieces makes you think of a favorite hike or vacation spot, or stirs something from your imagination, or you can simply just appreciate the beauty. … I hope these new works of art can bring viewers some joy." Ballou said.
The Friday event will feature live music, drink tickets, and a chance to meet and chat with some featured artists. A children's coloring book celebrating the “Art Behind the Cabins" will be available at no cost during the event.
In addition to the pieces themselves, artists and organizers alike are excited about the collaboration between the Town of Mountain Village and Telluride Arts.
"It is wonderful to see a project like this being installed in Mountain Village, bringing in more of the character that makes our community so special," Ballou said.
Warren echoed this sentiment.
"It is one thing to go to a gallery or a museum to see art (both of which can be intimidating or potentially challenging), but when the art is not only in a public space but is also transforming well-known objects it brings art to a wide variety of people," Warren said.
With the mountain opening a week from the unveiling, the cabins are sure to see a lot of traffic. The colorful cabins, all with their unique designs, offer a refuge from the cold and a warm place to eat. They create a picturesque moment by combining the beauty of art with the beauty of the snow-covered slopes.
"I'm fully confident that the cabin art will very much be embraced by our community and the visitors and become a key point to visit in the Telluride Mountain Village experience," Dohnal said.
For more information about Friday's event and to learn more about each of the 11 artists, visit telluridearts.org/cabins-at-mountain-village.