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The Art Day on Wolf Creek Pass, Art for the Endangered Landscape

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Peggy Immel from Taos and Susan McCullough from Monte Vista sketching the forest


Artists and Fans of Wolf Creek Convene on June 20, 2015


Over thirty artists and musicians convened at Wolf Creek Pass in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado on Saturday, June 20. They participated in the Art for The Endangered Landscape: Honoring Wolf Creek (AEL) that is calling attention to this scenic area along the Continental Divide and site of a controversial development that could bring an Aspen-sized town to an area that is currently only visited by the occasional outdoor enthusiast and resident wildlife, including threatened Canada lynx.

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Musicians Bob Dunsmore and Frank Scott


The on-location art day was the first part of the AEL program, honoring Wolf Creek. Artists of all persuasions from painters and jewelers to ambient drummers were charged with capturing natural elements and interpreting them into imagery, sculpture and sound. Outdoor enthusiasts and fans of a wild Wolf Creek also showed up to watch artists at work, dine on Bavarian sausage and enjoy music from individual players as well as the Jah King reggae band.

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Jah Kings bouncing Caribbean tunes off timberline peaks


The next step for the AEL program will be an art show displaying the Wolf Creek- inspired art offerings in a travelling show and sale that will open at the Pagosa Springs Art Center on Saturday, September 26. The show will then travel to exhibit in Durango in November and then to Alamosa in December.

Among the many artists that enjoyed the wonderful day and sunny weather was Randy Pijoan, internationally known painter from Amalia, New Mexico, who liked the opportunity to collaborate with other artists interacting within a natural setting. “Many of us are confined to our studios so it is great to come out and paint together. Plus, it is for a good cause,” stated Pijoan.

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Randy Pijoan at work at the edge of Alberta Park


“I’ve seen devastation and building encroachments take over areas that were only yesterday wild,” asserts Alamosa artist and educator Coni Grant who was painting near Pijoan, “and I want to be proactive in this situation.” Grant’s sentiment echoes other artists who are against the massive development proposed by Texas billionaire Red McCombs.

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Board Member Richard Luckemeier and Coni Grant (with Gus the dog) heading to set up


McCombs’ current proposal, dubbed the Village, was recently bolstered by a Forest Service decision to trade some of the private lands originally a part of a 30 year-old swap for a federal parcel that would allow access directly from US 160. The original tract is currently accessible from the same highway via a Forest road subject to seasonal closure.

Several environmental groups sued the Forest Service in response to their decision. Many of these same groups are sponsoring the AEL project, including the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council, San Juan Citizens Alliance and Rocky Mountain Wild.

The “Village” is slated to house at least 8,000 people in a pristine area adjacent to the Wolf Creek Ski Area. Explanations of this issue can easily get muddled by event timelines and complex details better addressed by other recent news offerings of in -depth analysis.

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David Montgomery, center, explains the situation on the pass-  Chris Canaly, SLVEC Director welcomes attendees


 What is at stake are the delicate natural systems already impacted and fragmented by a major highway corridor that hosts up to 3000 vehicles a day, conveys event organizer and San Luis Valley painter David Montgomery. This modern thoroughfare separates two of the largest and wildest areas in the southern Rocky Mountains, the South San Juan and Weminuche Wilderness Areas together totaling 660,000 acres.

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Wolf Creek fans at the orientation station at the ski area


Development on such a large scale project as “the Village” may well shatter the remainder of systems that are still hanging on, according to Dan Olson, director of the San Juan Citizens Alliance.

The AEL artists bear witness to these natural systems by interpretation of what we have now- and what we stand to lose, explained Montgomery.

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Artists Karen Bonnie, center and Ricky Sutphin, right, comparing days results


The task now for AEL artists is to complete works for the travelling show which will commence in Pagosa Springs on September 26. The diverse disciplines of expression will offer many interpretations of the beauty of Wolf Creek.

AEL promoters hope the many faceted portraits of this endangered landscape will transform viewers’ take on Wolf Creek who are not familiar with it from a dot on the map into an invaluable scenic resource that needs protection.


For those fans of Wolf Creek who are already enamored, the AEL travelling show will offer an opportunity to further celebrate the scenic wonderment of this wild place on the Continental Divide.

For more information please contact the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council at 719-589-1518 or go to

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