Now at 101 S. Main St., the new location gives the cooperative gallery about 20 more square feet of display space and 50% more artists, up to a total of 29. Hundreds of pieces of local art across various mediums adorn the walls, pedestals, cabinets and baskets.
The council was formed in 1992 by Sandy Greenhunt, who died in April.
“She started almost every arts organization, I think, in the county, and the gallery itself started about 14 or 15 years ago in Breckenridge,” said council President Joanne Hanson, adding jokingly that people such as treasurer Bob Hoppin were coerced into the nonprofit.
“That was the way she did things,” Hanson said. “She talked you into it, and if you didn’t really want to do it, you did it anyway. That’s how she got things going. She was a force to be reckoned with.”
Hanson got involved with Arts Alive before the council roughly a decade ago because she needed the extra wall space for her paintings and figured selling them would be an added bonus. A real estate agent prior to retirement, Hanson followed her artist sister out to Arizona for an oil painting workshop. She became hooked and found herself a new hobby for when she was done working, in addition to the Summit County pastimes of skiing and hiking.
“I can fix it if I mess it up,” Hanson said about her choice in that style of painting over other mediums. “You can scrape it off or let it dry and paint over it. … Kind of like skiing, I have enough troubles sliding down the hill one way without adding other ways into it, as well. One medium is enough for me.”
Unfortunately, the timing of the gallery’s leases coincided with the pandemic. They hoped to open the new space in April but then found themselves not in as much of a rush to move everything because of the shutdown. Since being allowed to open May 15, the gallery has implemented protocols for health and safety.
Aisles are one way (similar to grocery stores), masks are required, hand sanitizer is provided and gloves are required to touch any items such as jewelry. Because of the pandemic, all work can be viewed, purchased and shipped online, as well.
“A gallery isn’t a high-traffic area anyway, and we’re limited seven people inside,” Hanson said. “And for a gallery, that’s pretty good.”
The council’s main mission is to provide arts outreach in the community. It hosts art classes at Snowy Peaks high school, Wounded Warrior events at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, and other activities to bring art to the underserved.
While the pandemic won’t stop the council’s mission, it has affected operations. The council’s biggest fundraiser of the year will be 100 for $100 in August with art fairs being canceled. Artists will donate pieces that can be purchased for $100 or less.
In addition to the fundraisers, members of the public can support by joining and contributing $35 dues annually. If they wish to sell art at the gallery, it costs $250 a year if accepted to become a resident. Artists can test the waters and join on a six-month trail basis without paying dues, but at a higher split between them and the nonprofit.
According to Hanson the gallery’s 2D wall space is full, but they have pedestals available for 3D works such as jewelry, sculpture, ceramics, glass and wood.
One of the gallery’s artists is Laurie Lippert, who is so new to the group that May was the first time her work has been displayed at either location. However, Lippert has been in the art world for decades. She studied graphic design at Columbia College in Chicago and moved to Breckenridge in 2007.
After retiring from her graphic design business for 25 years to spend time with her family and teach fitness classes at the Breckenridge Recreation Center, she realized she missed having a creative outlet. In 2012, she took a jewelry-making class from Holly Stein, who is also from Illinois, and rekindled her passion in fine art. Lippert painted, drew and made crafts from a young age yet went into graphic design as a happy medium between making art and making money. She designed logos, brochures, menus and more, but the desire to make jewelry and play in a three-dimensional space was always there.
“The college I went to didn’t offer classes of that kind,” Lippert said. “I just always wanted to do it. There’s color and shape and texture. I think I liked it because the first time I tried it, it worked for me; there wasn’t a big learning curve. … You can make jewelry simply or complex.”
Along with Stein, Lippert is inspired by jewelers such as Gogo Borgerding from New Orleans, Louisiana, and Jocelyne Aubree of Paris in addition to artists like Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Edgar Degas. Her pieces are contemporary, but she also incorporates Summit County’s love of the outdoors in her work with images of mountains and bicycles.
All pieces are handmade one at a time with silver, copper, brass, stone and sometimes textiles. She usually starts with crafting earrings and then will turn it into a set with a matching necklace or bracelet since customers often want a collection of similar materials or patterns.
“The best part about making jewelry is the freedom to create, and if someone loves it enough to buy it, you have more time and money to keep on creating,” Lippert said.
With her items being one-of-a-kind, she prefers selling them physically rather than online and has been featured in various boutique stores throughout the years. Jessica Johnson of Dry Fly Art convinced her to come to HighSide Brewing’s Third Thursday Art Night, and the exposure there lead her to joining Arts Alive Gallery.
The gallery has rotating visiting artists, as well. Currently exhibiting pieces through the end of September are Bryan Goldstein’s hand-blown recycled glass, Sumi von Dassow’s ceramics, Judi Mitchell’s animal sculptures, Randy Blunt’s beetle-killed wood and Mary Waters’ beaded jewelry and gourds. On June 26 will be a daylong reception from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the artists discussing their work in shifts.
Arts Alive Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Tuesday and Wednesday through June 18. Afterward, it is open daily for the summer. On Thursdays from June 25 through Aug. 20, the gallery will be open until 8 p.m.