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The BAC reaches out to Waldo Fire victims with gift of art
When: 6-9 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Venue 515 at the Business of Art Center, 515 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs
Admission: Free, reception is limited to homeowners whose homes burned down in the Waldo Canyon Fire and artists who donated work; 685-1861, thebac.org
Jana Rush hopes art heals the hearts of the Mountain Shadows residents that lost their homes this summer in the Waldo Canyon Fire.
The harsh destruction inspired Rush, the event coordinator at the Business of Art Center, to help in whatever way she could. Art was the obvious ticket. So, in July, she created “Art for a New Start,” which gathered donations of art to be given to those without.
The idea comes to fruition today at an opening reception.
“When you lose everything, you lose the memories attached to it,” Rush says. “When you pop up toast in the morning, you think ‘I got that as a wedding present.’ All those kind of memory associations are destroyed with fire.”
She decided the gift of an original piece of art might help in the healing process of the 346 homeowners who lost their homes. She quickly put out a call out for 346 pieces of art - one piece per home - in mid-summer, and the work started to roll in. The tally stood at 214 in mid-November.
Rush’s office is in Venue 515 at the BAC, which is no stranger to destruction, after being being extensively vandalized in August. The space recently re-opened after clean-up, and stacks of art and tables littered with pieces for the show crowd her space. Names on the intake forms are highly recognizable as some of our community’s most prolific and admired artists, including Sean O’Meallie, Laura Reilly, Deb Komitor, Kim Sayers-Newlin and Lance Green. She’s even received pieces from Paonia, Colo., and Nebraska.
There are paintings, wildlife photos, sculpture, pottery, wood works, jewelry, homemade slippers, weavings and more. All styles are represented, because, as Rush says, everyone has different tastes.
“We want people to come in and find a piece of work that speaks to them,” she says. “It’s art for a new start. It’s something beautiful for them to start a new life with. I don’t know how many people have original art in their house, but once you do, you understand how special it is.”
Tina Riesterer, along with her husband Ken, are local painters and potters who donated a piece. The Manitou Springs artists were evacuated in the fire and know the winds of fate were, quite literally, kind to them. If the wind had blown a different direction during the fire, they might have lost everything they own.
“It’s just a gesture on the artist’s part to say we feel for them,” she says. “That they lost all those things dear to them, and maybe we can give them a piece of original art made with … your heart. Maybe they will feel that.”
Only the affected homeowners are invited to the reception at the BAC where they will be able to choose one piece and take it home. It will be a first-come, first-served process, Rush says, and some ID is needed to lines up with the list of affected addresses. The artists who donated works will also be in attendance. The show will also run during limited hours Saturday-Sunday, but Rush strongly advises people to come Friday. Music by Redraw the Farm and the Broadmoor Academy of Music, along with food and drinks, will be provided.
One of the homeowners who will be in attendance is Linda Pearce. She and her husband, Warren, lived in their Mountain Shadows home for 23 years. The couple owned an extensive collection of photography, she says, including works by local artists and historical images. Her husband was able to save 18 pieces in the short amount of time they had before evacuation. She estimates they lost hundreds of pieces.
“When you lose everything, you scramble around and look for a place to live,” she says. “But it’s not really home. It doesn’t have beautiful things in it. You just get whatever’s functional. This is an opportunity to make a rental house or place look beautiful.”