Art Events Add Splash of Color & Culture to Gunnison-Crested Butte, Colorado

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Crested Butte among Top 12 Small-Town ArtPlaces in U.S.

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Crested Butte Arts Festival by Dusty Demerson

Crested Butte was recently designated one of the Top 12 Small-Town ArtPlaces in America by ArtPlace, a collaboration of leading national and regional foundations, banks, and federal agencies committed to accelerating creative placemaking.

The visual arts are a vibrant part of Gunnison-Crested Butte’s unique vibe just as much as the majestic mountain scenery, amazing outdoor recreation and friendly locals. Summer and fall months in the valley are filled with ways for couples, families and all ages to plug into the art scene: monthly art walks, numerous classes, plentiful galleries and longtime art events such as Crested Butte Arts Festival, Gunnison Art in the Park and The People’s Fair.

There is no admission charge to attend the festivals and gallery walk evenings or to view the exhibitions at Gunnison Arts Center ( and Crested Butte Center for the Arts (, both an important part of the creative mix. The art centers and 13 other organizations in the area have partnered to form The Arts Alliance of the East River Valley (, making it easy for visitors to find out about all the cultural happenings and entities all in one place.

The arts are so much a way of life in this Rocky Mountain valley that Crested Butte was recently designated one of the Top 12 Small-Town ArtPlaces in America by ArtPlace, a collaboration of leading national and regional foundations, banks, and federal agencies committed to accelerating “creative placemaking.” The 12 communities have the highest concentrations of arts nonprofits, core arts-oriented businesses, and workers in creative occupations among smaller towns in the United States. For more information, visit


First Fridays Art Walk & Music, Gunnison - May 3, June 7, July 5, Aug. 2, Sept. 6, Oct. 4

ArtWalk Evenings, Crested Butte - June 27, July 25, Aug. 1, Aug. 29, Sept. 26

AWE Fests, Crested Butte - June 30, July 7, 14, 21, 28 & August 11, 18, 25    

39th Annual Gunnison Art in the Park, Gunnison - July 28        

41st Annual Crested Butte Arts Festival, Crested Butte    - Aug. 2 - 4

High Octane Arts & Crafts Festival, Gunnison - Aug. 17        

24th Annual The People’s Fair, Crested Butte - Aug. 31 – Sept. 1


First Friday Art Walk & Music, Gunnison, First Fridays All Year
Join in Gunnison’s First Friday Art Walk & Music for a guaranteed evening of creative inspiration, music, food and fun. Enjoy locally created art and music at art galleries and studios, Gunnison Arts Center, coffee shops and restaurants from 5 – 8 p.m. For participating businesses and more information, call Gunnison Gallery at (970) 641-6111.

ArtWalk Evenings, Crested Butte, June 27, July 25, Aug. 1, Aug. 29, Sept. 26
To wrap up the month in style, from June to September, Crested Butte’s ArtWalk Evenings bring art enthusiasts on a tour of the galleries the last Thursday evening from 5 – 8 p.m. A special ArtWalk will be held Aug. 1, the evening before Crested Butte Arts Festival kicks off. Light refreshments, music and onsite artists are featured at many of the locations. ArtWalk Evenings, organized by Artists of the West Elks, also take place December – March. For a list of participating galleries, go to


AWEFest, Crested Butte, June 30, July 7, 14, 21, 28, August 11, 18, 25
Artists of the West Elks (AWE) will hold seven AWEFests this summer, showcasing members work in conjunction with the Crested Butte Farmers’ Market on Sundays. The festivals will be held on Elk Avenue from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. For more information, go to

39th Annual Gunnison Art in the Park, July 28
Gunnison’s Legion Park serves as the backdrop for this annual art extravaganza organized by the local chapter of American Association of University Women (AAUW). On July 28, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., approximately 55 artists will exhibit and sell their creations during this juried event. Live entertainment, activities for kids and a food tent also are part of the fun. Proceeds from the event benefit AAUW’s local scholarship program and national education foundation. For booth applications, call Carol at (970) 641-4230, and for information, call Sharon at (970) 641-2883.

41st Annual Crested Butte Arts Festival, August 2 – 4
Crested Butte Arts Festival is one of the biggest weekends of the summer, drawing world-class artists from all 50 states and several international exhibitors. Open-air booths line the five-block center of Crested Butte’s National Historic District, featuring 175 of the nation’s finest visual artists; music and entertainment; an art auction; chef and artist demonstrations; children’s activities; and a beer and wine pavilion. There also will be seminars, workshops, temporary art installations and the first annual “Art Under the Influence” kickoff celebration.

Kicking off the culinary portion of the weekend is an “Art of Cooking” class with Executive Chef Spencer Hestwood of the Ginger Café, tentatively schedule for Aug. 1. Hestwood’s laidback, fun approach to Asian cuisine is paired with an amazing dinner, wine, beer and if you’re lucky the Ginger’s signature cocktail. Not to be missed are free culinary demonstrations by local and visiting chefs held during festival hours on Saturday and Sunday , 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., in the Viking culinary tent. Each demonstration is paired with craft beer and fine wine and features food samplings. Find out more by calling (970) 349-1184 or visiting

Carvin’ Up Colorado, Gunnison, August 15 – 17
Ten wood carvers from several states will transform tree stumps into works of art with chainsaws over a three-day period in Legion Park. Watch themes selected by participating artists take shape from stumps collected by the City of Gunnison throughout the year when trees are cut down for safety reasons. Participating wood carvers will begin their artistry on Aug. 15 at 10 a.m. and on Aug. 16 and 17 at 8 a.m. The eighth annual event wraps up with judging at 5 p.m. on Saturday, which also is the day the High Octane Arts & Crafts Festival and Gunnison Car Show will be held nearby. All works become the property of the City of Gunnison to display in Legion Park and other public areas around the community. For information, contact John Messner at (970) 901-6215.

High Octane Arts & Crafts Festival, Gunnison, August 17
This outdoor festival showcases arts and crafts by approximately 60 artisans from around the region and will be held from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. in Legion Park, located across the street from Jorgensen Park where Gunnison Car Show will be held. Great food and fun for the whole family are on tap. For information, call Gunnison Country Chamber of Commerce at (800) 814-8893.

24th Annual The People’s Fair, Aug. 31 – Sept. 1
The Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend marks the return of The People’s Fair in downtown Crested Butte. Hundreds of locals and visitors stroll Elk Avenue on Aug. 31 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sept. 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to take in this homespun cultural experience and to soak in the last of the high-country summer. The People’s Fair features an eclectic mix of approximately 70 booths showcasing regional arts and crafts, collectibles and antiques, and preserved foods from local gardens as well as live music, a tasty fair food, and nonprofit organization booths. The People’s Fair is made possible by the volunteer efforts of the artist members of The Paragon Gallery, a cooperatively owned arts and crafts gallery in downtown Crested Butte. For information, email or call (970) 349-6484.


The Art Studio of the Center for the Arts presents numerous classes all year long from its studio space at 111 Elk Ave and sometimes outdoors. There will be special offerings during the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, July 8 – 14, and Crested Butte Arts Festival, Aug. 2 – 4. Another highlight is Ripple: A Watercolor Art Retreat for Women on Sept. 13 – 15, which also includes options for yoga and massage. For a detailed schedule, go to and click on Visual Arts.

The Gunnison Arts Center also offers numerous art classes for kids and adults in a variety of mediums. Call (970) 641-4029 or go to for all the details.

The Trailhead Children’s Museum in Mt. Crested Butte has a variety of arts programming for kids year-round, including Art & Science Enrichment Camp for ages 5 – 11 available on summer weekdays from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. (art programs are on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays). Little Innovators Camp for ages 3 – 5 features a mix of art and science on Tuesdays and Thursdays, either half day or full day. Both camps run from June 10 – Aug. 23 and can be taken one day at a time. Find out more about the museum, these programs and costs at or (970) 349-7160.

If furthering skills with a camera is of interest, Crested Butte-based photographer J.C. Leacock leads photo tours and workshops. Visit or call (970) 901-0087.


Save 15% at any Crested Butte Mountain Resort property during Crested Butte Arts Festival and receive one free scenic chairlift ride for stays from July 30 – Aug. 7, 2013. One single lift ticket per person on reservation is provided, and the deal is subject to taxes, fees and availability. Valid only on new reservations only, and cannot be combined with any other offers. Visit or call (800) 810-7669.


To save on flights, hotel rooms, vacation packages, car rentals and more, call the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association reservation hotline at (888) 559-0841 or go to For destination information, call (800) 814-8893 or visit

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