By Brian Jewell
Mountains aren’t the only beauty you’ll see in Colorado. Spend some time in the cities and towns of the Rocky Mountain state, and you’ll find plenty of beautiful art as well.
Communities throughout Colorado have found ways to complement their scenery with arts and culture that reflect local traditions and perspectives. At art museums, cultural centers and numerous special events, Colorado highlights its art in ways that are easy for group travelers to appreciate.
The resort town of Aspen showcases arts and culture through film and music festivals, as well as a free art museum. Colorado Springs has public art, a fine-arts center and an annual craft festival. Visitors to Fort Collins can explore numerous art museums that highlight a wide range of visual arts.
The state’s art highlights its cultural heritage as well. The town of Pueblo has a number of neighborhoods infused with arts. And a specialized gallery in Durango displays traditional and contemporary artwork created by Navajo and other Native American groups.
Art in the Mountains
The mountain town of Aspen may be most famous for its ski slopes and swanky resorts, but the community also values the arts and celebrates them with a museum and a number of special events.
Located in the center of the city, the Aspen Art Museum is free to visit. The museum contains a range of art, from postmodern paintings to nature photography, all created by artists who live and work around the Aspen area.
Groups that visit during the summer can enjoy the Aspen Music Festival, a warm-weather tradition in town since 1949. Throughout eight weeks, musicians put on more than 300 concerts and performances around town, many free to the public. Another special event, Aspen Shortfest, screens independent documentaries, dramas, comedies and animation films of 40 minutes or less.
Colorado has a strong Native American presence, and in Durango, a city in the state’s southwest, Toh-Atin Gallery showcases the artistic traditions of the Navajo and other people.
Toh-Atin has the state’s largest collection of Native American art, leading some people to consider it more of a museum than a simple gallery. Although the collection includes plenty of examples of traditional Navajo art from the Durango area, there is also plenty of modern art based on native traditions, as well as work created by Native Americans from other parts of the country.
Groups that visit the gallery will find authentic Navajo rugs and weavings; antique and modern Native American jewelry; Hopi Kachinas; Indian baskets; Pueblo, Navajo and other Native American pottery; Alaskan ivory carvings; and original Southwestern paintings and sculptures. With prior notice, owner Jackson Clark can meet a visiting group to share the history of the Navajo Indians and insights from his 40-year career in native arts.