4th annual event features local, national artists

The fourth annual Salida Arts Festival gets underway this weekend in Centennial Park featuring 55 locally and nationally invited artists.

Co-founder and organizer Jerry Scavezze said he and fellow Gallery 150 owner Toni Tischer launched the festival in 2013 when they considered the high volume of traffic U.S. Hwy. 50 gets daily. “We needed an art festival on the highway where the traffic is good. I called [the Colorado Department of Transportation] and learned 20,000 cars drive that route every day in the summer. In addition to that, the (Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center( gets a lot of traffic too.”

Scavezze explained that artists typically shy away from participating in inaugural shows, so he and Fischer were surprised by how many artists signed up. “They all know me as an artist on the show circuit, so they believed in me; they took a leap.” One such first-year vendor, Castle Rock photographer Ken Smith, told Scavezze after the show that the Salida Arts Festival was the second most successful booth space he’d rented in his 20 years as an artist.

Smith will return to the festival for his fourth time this year. Referring to the artist, Scavezze said, “He does amazing photography – a little bit of everything – from bright red maple trees in New England to the narrow gauge steam engines in Durango.

Wood, fiber, clay, glass, jewelry, digital, painting and photographic artists will all attend the event. Salida’s Mary Staby and Ben Orren of Howard are two of the featured local artists. Staby will exhibit hand-painted black and white photos; Orren offers wire-wrapped jewelry. “He does amazing wire-wrapping to the next level. It’s huge,” Scavezze said.

Arizona artist Carolyn Henderson shares her aluminum and glass jewelry with Salida Arts Festival attendees. Henderson will return to the 2017 festival, and her work is available for purchase year-round at Gallery 150 (courtesy photo).

Nationally recognized vendors at this year’s event include Arizona artist Carolyn Henderson with aluminum and glass jewelry and California artist Leslee Adams with watercolor paintings. Overall, Scavezze described the festival as “a pretty high-caliber show for such a small town.”

Scavezze and Tischer – both contemporary gold jewelry metalsmiths – will not host a booth at their event. “We don’t feel it’s fair; I’ve already made my money for the festival, so to compete with my own customers is bad karma on many levels. People can see my work at the gallery anytime.”

This particular arts festival differs from other similar local events in that it boasts no loud amplified music or alcohol sales. “We’re not wanting it to be a music festival; we just feature art,” Scavezze explained. “I care about these artists. They’re friends of mine.” Food trucks will be on-site offering traditional fare as well as alternative cuisine for vegetarians.

There will be acoustic music on the lawn at this year’s event, however. Terri Dunn and Greg Walter of Wanderlust Road will perform their funky jazz from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, and Tischer’s husband, Red, will offer his acoustic flamenco chill sounds at the same time on Sunday.

The free festival runs Saturday, July 22, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, July 23, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit SalidaArtsFestival.com. To view the work of some of the artists who will be in attendance this year, follow Salida Arts Festival on Facebook.