Third in a series on where to find exceptional, handcrafted holiday gifts
Evergreen, Colorado, lies tucked into the mountains not far west of Denver. I hadn’t been there in several years, so it was a treat to leave I-70 and follow Evergreen Parkway toward town last week. Beautiful pine forests cover the low mountains that surround the parkway as it curves gently for eight miles to the heart of Evergreen.
When the road started to edge Evergreen Lake, I knew I was almost at my destination: The Evergreen Gallery. The drive from Fort Collins had taken an hour and a half – and it was well worth it.
So Much to See
The Evergreen Gallery celebrated its 27th anniversary last month, an impressive accomplishment for this privately owned shop. Over half of the artisans whose work is displayed here live and work along the Front Range. That includes Meryl Sabeff, the original owner, who still lives in Evergreen and actively creates pottery to sell at the gallery. The photo at left shows one of her four styles of functional ware now available.
Lisa Gibson, current owner, kindly showed me around the gallery and pointed out things I might have missed in this showcase of almost 100 artisans. Much of the work was so unique and so beautifully made that it was like going on a docent-led tour of a museum — except that you can take the art home with you if you want to.
She showed me the kaleidoscope pictured at right, by Henry Bergeson of Conifer, Colorado. You don’t pick it up to view it – you just look down into it, as if it were a telescope pointing down. In back, two lights have been integrated into the kaleidoscope to illuminate a clear barrel of trinkets floating in glycerin that the lens turns into fascinating designs. Smaller kaleidoscope designs, also by Henry Bergeson, do require that you pick them up; the beautifully finished and shaped wood makes that a pure pleasure. Like the larger one pictured here, these kaleidoscopes on their stands have such grace and beauty, they are true works of art.
So are the dolls by Mary Jane Butler of Littleton, Colorado. Notice how the doll pictured at left seems to look right at you, as if she were waiting for what you were going to say next. Lisa explained that the head is sculpted from polymer clay, but the upper body is made of wood. This line of dolls is actually made to hang on a wall. Artfully quilted fabric creates the skirt of the dress, which is weighted along the hemline by a small branch of wood. Even looking at the work in person, I couldn’t tell where the fabric ended and the painted bodice began.
On a wall nearby hang animal masks by Hilarey Walker, who recently moved back to Colorado. Made primarily of clay, the masks are fired and then painted with acrylics. Metal ornaments and decorative papers, sometimes objects from nature add stunning detail.
I’m not sure if any photograph could truly catch how beautiful the masks are. Maybe that’s because the artisan’s vision of the animal and the ancient culture influencing each mask can only be captured fully in three-dimensional form. People rarely buy only one, Lisa told me; they collect them over time.
Jennifer Rudkin of Louisville, Colorado, takes a completely different approach to portraying the character of animals in the line she calls Fine Art Whimsy. Her figures, sculpted in clay, are as playful as the masks are serious. In fact, she sometimes includes an antique toy with one of her figures to accent the spirit of fun.
Notice the dog with the bone on top of the backhoe in the picture at left; another bone lies in wait in the bucket. Not far away, a bear is ready to roll away on an actual antique roller skate with a ceramic beehive on the front. The photo shows only a portion of the Fine Art Whimsy that the gallery carries.
So Much to Enjoy
There was so much to see and marvel over that I took a lunch break before spending a couple more hours at the gallery. At Lisa’s suggestion, I walked a block to the Muddy Buck coffee shop, which occupies the former lobby of the Evergreen Hotel. The warm, eclectic décor was delightful, and lunch was delicious.
On my way back to the gallery, I stopped by Seasonally Yours. The candy shop drew me in with its sign for pumpkin praline fudge, its seasonal specialty this month — heavenly, even though there’s no chocolate about it. Had I not been planning to drop in on a fiber arts event on my way back to Fort Collins, I would have added a walk by the lake to the day’s outing. Any concerns that I had about the distance of the trip had long since evaporated.
The Evergreen Gallery, located at 28195 Hwy 74, Evergreen, is open seven days a week. Hours are listed on its website under “contact us.” The website also offers examples of all the work the gallery carries — but you won’t really know how beautiful the artwork is until you treat yourself to a day like mine.
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