Not all Snowdown events, it turns out, end with a potential stomach pump or bail hearing.
If our winter carnival has a cultural apex, it will come Thursday at the DoubleTree Hotel. Thats the site of the 17th annual Snowdown Wine Tasting and Fine Art Exhibition, an event heavy on the wine and the art with nary an arm wrestler nor bed racer to be found. The event is the biggest annual fundraiser for the La Plata Open Space Conservancy, which typically raises about $25,000 through ticket sales and proceeds from a silent auction of artworks.
We want it to be a show with something for everyone because the idea is to sell everything to raise money for open space, said Kathy Roser, executive director of the Conservancy.
The Fine Art Exhibition is one of the most selective art shows in Durango. Only 15 works were selected in November from about 30 entries by a jury comprised of Conservancy board members, Bank of Colorado employees (the bank is a primary sponsor) and at-large members. The collection includes three photographs and 12 paintings in a variety of styles: watercolors, acrylic, oil and mixed media.
Earning a special honor this year is Jane Mercer, the featured artist for the 2011 event. In addition to the prestige of the selection, Mercers work will be remembered by all those in attendance who will leave with a signed print of her entry A Silver Snowdown. Any of the 350 prints not given away Thursday will be sold with proceeds going to the Open Space Conservancy. The painting was the result of one of Mercers easiest subjects to date.
I look at that view from my house, Mercer said of the scene west of Durango near the Rafter J subdivision.
Its got some artists license, but its the most beautiful scene, and I get to see it every day.
Mercer, who has had pieces featured in the Snowdown event for several years, said the Fine Art Exhibition is a favorite among artists. Thats not always the case when artists are solicited to donate to fundraisers. The artists split the sale price with the conservancy, making it a worthwhile venture, and Roser and her staff give the artwork the respect its due.
She does an excellent job, and thats why we like to participate, Mercer said.
Theres gallery lighting over each painting instead of just throwing a bunch of paintings out there with a table full of bid sheets. It makes us feel that our donations are appreciated, and they get our best work, not the closet paintings. At least the artists can afford to frame them.
La Plata Open Space Conservancy is a nonprofit land trust dedicated to conserving open lands in Southwest Colorado, including private farms and ranches, and recreational areas and open spaces that are open to the public. To date, the conservancy has ensured that nearly 24,000 acres of landscape will remain open, forever.
Art collectors who are unable to attend the auction can arrange for a proxy to bid for them by contacting La Plata Open Space Conservancy.
Ticket holders and the general public can see the whole collection at the Bank of Colorado lobby, where it will remain on display until Thursday morning when the pieces are moved to the DoubleTree for the event.