Carbondale Arts presents the 43rd Annual Valley Visual Arts Fair, showcasing a diverse range of artwork from 60 Roaring Fork Valley artists. The exhibit kicked off today and will be on view through February 25 at the R2 Gallery, located inside The Launchpad building in Carbondale.
As one of the oldest community art shows in the valley, the VVAS provided local artists of all age groups and skill levels with the opportunity to show their work in a professional setting and make part of a rewarding art scene, explained R2 Gallery. Director Brian Colley.
“The show started as an open call for local artists to have a local show – which is not the case today in the Valley,” Colley said. “Places like Carbondale Arts, the Art Base in Basalt and the Aspen Chapel Gallery are some of the only places in the Valley that still regularly feature local artists.”
Over the past four decades of this annual exhibition, R2 Gallery has opened its doors and walls to a host of established and emerging artists, presenting two-dimensional to three-dimensional pieces in a gallery setting.
This year, the 60 participating artists are a mix of returning and new faces at VVAS, says Colley. R2 Gallery will host an Artists’ Reception – which is free and open to the public – on Friday, February 4 from 5-7 p.m.
“Generally, there’s a bunch of artists that come back every year,” Colley said. “I would say it’s probably a third of artists who come back, a third who’ve shown once in the past and another third who’s never shown before – that’s a great mix of new people and familiar faces.”
From ceramic and wood works to photography, painting and printmaking, the various pieces on display create a comprehensive visual experience, as well as homages to the wide variety of artistic talent in the Roaring Fork Valley. Colley commented that the R2 team worked hard all week to set up the show, and this year there are a lot of hanging pieces, including very high quality photography, with around six to eight works on pedestals.
All of the works on display are for sale, Colley said, and while all other exhibitions organized by the R2 gallery generally return 70% of the profits to the artist, the VVAS is the only show where artists receive 75% of the profits.
In addition, the VVAS offers the People’s Choice Awards each year. People who come to see the exhibition are invited to vote, once only, for their favorite work. When the show ends at the end of February, artists who come in first, second and third place receive prizes such as cash and free tickets to community events.
“There’s always been some form of this award for the last 43 years, and I always try to guess which artists will win when the show starts,” Colley said. “It’s fun for the community to come and vote for their favorite work, as difficult as it may be.”
Colley mentioned how in the past artists could participate in VVAS on a first-come, first-served basis. Due to the growing number of applicants over the years, R2 Gallery organizers eventually had to set a cap of around 60-70 accepted artists.
“We had to cut it to make sure we could maintain a presentable display in the gallery,” Colley said. “It’s an opportunity for artists to exhibit in a very professional space.”
While the R2 Gallery has moved around over the years, Colley described The Launchpad’s current space as a great fit for Carbondale Art’s programming, stating that “there’s so much you can do with it.”
“When this building opened, we jumped at the chance to make a proposal, and we love sharing the space with Dance Initiative,” Colley said. “It’s such a great space – 10ft high white walls, state of the art track lights, lots of natural light coming in – a very professional looking place.”
There is no age limit for applying to VVAS, Colley says, and local high school or college students returning home to the Valley are encouraged to submit their work. This particular exhibition, he continued, is a great learning experience for young emerging artists in submitting, framing, hanging and selling artwork.
Although there have been a few high school and college students at previous exhibitions, Colley noted that the Gallery hasn’t had many young artists applying to VVAS recently, and he hopes more students will seize this opportunity in the future.
R2 Gallery’s virtual and immersive viewing experience also launches with the 43rd VVAS. In partnership with KA Designworks, a full-service, design-focused architecture and interiors firm based in Basalt, R2 Gallery will present a 360-degree visual experience of past exhibitions and the current VVAS. This virtual gallery is set to launch early next week on the Carbondale Arts website and will be accessible for free, according to Colley.
“Since COVID shut us down, we’ve been scrambling to find ways for people to continue to enjoy our shows,” Colley said. “KA Designworks comes in, scans the entire space, and uploads it online, so you feel like you’re literally walking through the gallery when viewing.”
Colley added that this new virtual gallery concept has the potential to increase R2 Gallery’s exposure beyond the Valley. Additionally, artwork from this year’s VVAS will be available to view and purchase through the Gallery’s online store on the Carbondale Arts website.
“This traditional show makes it much more accessible for artists to show their art locally,” Colley said. “We’re just trying to spread the love for these artists – we’re here for the community.”
Galerie R2 is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information on the artists featured in the 43rd Valley Visual Arts Show, visit carbondalearts.com.