painting

‘New Powder,’ a painting by Christine Lashley, at the Turquoise Door Gallery on Telluride’s Main Street. (Courtesy photo)

It’s been a cultural tradition in downtown Telluride for years: The first Thursday of every month brings Art Walk, a time where galleries and participating venues stay open just a little longer into the evening to exhibit new works, from 5-8 p.m. But not this month.

For the first time she can remember, as Telluride Arts Executive Director Kate Jones put it, “We called it.” They pulled it.

“We’ve been able to do it all summer,” Jones said. “But we just did a straw poll of our gallery partners. Most didn’t feel comfortable holding this right now, given the surge of COVID-19 cases in San Miguel County.”

Nevertheless, artists, and galleries, “still appreciate support,” Jones emphasized. Instead of a gathering one night, visitors are invited to visit Art Walk’s participating galleries during daylight hours at a time of their choosing.

“All the galleries are open by appointment, as well,” Jones said. “If you want to schedule a time to be the only one in a space, you can.”

To take a self-guided tour of participating galleries this month, just head online: Art Walk maps and a complete rundown of what’s on are available at telluridearts.org/art-walk-2021.

You needn’t make a special stop at a gallery (much less book an appointment) to see new artworks, though. Swing by Baked In Telluride, for example, and while you’re waiting to pay for a (highly recommended) coconut macaroon, admire the colorful acrylic paintings that bedeck the walls by 18-year-old local artist Mona Taylor.

Swing by Mountain Gate Teahouse, which doubles as an art gallery, and see large-scale works that depict animals as saints by abstract painter (and animal activist) Jade Rose.

Stop by Flowers by Ella at On Main and be struck not only by the exotic scents and colors of the blooms, but by the “Oman” photographic series. The works were taken by Edward Grazda, whose depictions of urban and rural geography — he has shot in Afghanistan, Pakistan, New York City and the American Southwest — have hung in New York’s Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Art, and lately, the Box Canyon.

At LIV Sotheby’s real estate, you’ll see evocative landscapes from Laurel Anderson’s luminous “Line + Color” series, taken on a solo journey the photographer made over the course of a year across the U.S. with her dog. At the Turquoise Door Gallery, take in works by numerous local artists in one go; “Jewels of Telluride,” oil paintings by Christine Lashley, are a highlight.

Gallery owners and artists are human beings, just like everybody else: Those who live in this region need to earn a living, but also want to stay safe.

“We didn’t feel any pushback when we called it,” Jones said of the decision to transform Art Walk into a self-guided event this month. “Most feel we’re just rolling with the times. We’re trying to adapt and adjust as needed,” she said. “If Covid’s taught us anything, it’s how to be very flexible.”

Looking back, “We hosted 109 event days, five Art Walks, 38 concerts on Main Street and never had the virus contact-traced to any of our activities — and we want to keep it that way. We want to err on the side of caution at this point, while also still feeling called to do things for the community to keep people feeling sane and connected.”

When the time is right, “We’ll be hosting some of the same robust programming as last year,” Jones promised.

Already, “We’re working with festivals, artists, and have a music and film series planned in the Transfer Warehouse again. We’ll have some version of Art + Architecture weekend that won’t include home tours, but will include garden tours and outdoor lectures.

“We realize it won’t look normal for another year,” Jones summed up. Even so, “We are today erecting a Quonset hut in the back end of the Transfer Warehouse, and planning to open it as an arts venue and music venue as soon as possible. We’ll be up and running as soon as it’s safe.” Then she spoke for everyone: “We can’t wait.”