Arlene Law showcased at Glenwood Springs Library
Special to the Post Independent
Arlene Law remembers the days when there were no art venues in Glenwood — no classes or galleries, no art centers or booths at events like Strawberry Days. She says when she was beginning her career as an artist in the 1960s, people had to travel to Aspen to view and purchase original art pieces or take art classes.
But thanks to artists including Law, that has all changed. The Glenwood Springs Micropolitan Statistical Area– which includes Garfield, Eagle, and Pitkin counties– took the top ranking in the National Endowment of the Arts’ Arts Vibrancy Index.
“A large part of that ranking has to do with artists like Arlene; She mentors a lot of artists, both male and female, and is definitely one of the leaders in Glenwood’s art community,” said Marianne Virgili, president of the Glenwood Chamber of Commerce.
A charter member of the Glenwood Springs Art Guild and a Master Signature member of the Western Colorado Watercolor Society (WCWS), Law’s art has enjoyed wide acclaim on both the local and national level. However, she started out like most artists, drawing for her own enjoyment.
“I’ve drawn pictures since I was a little girl. My friend Joan always had paper at her house. So I would go to her house a couple times a week and just sit and draw, often (getting inspiration from) out of comic books,” she recalls. Law says that though it started out as a hobby, it eventually turned into more.
“I was asked to be in a couple galleries. Most artists have to show their portfolios first, but I was fortunate enough to never have to take a portfolio around to galleries and ask if they wanted to see my work. I became known by entering shows,” Law explains.
She admits that putting her work out there on a professional level felt risky, but realized it was a necessary next step if she was going to continue to grow and learn.
“I took the chance because I wanted to learn more. I couldn’t imagine not drawing or painting and taking classes,” says Law.
Law has also spent a lot of her time providing opportunities for other artists. She is one of the founders of the Fall Arts Festival, a juried annual art show that ran for more than 50 years and enjoyed a devoted list of patrons. The festival also raised funding which provided scholarships to promising young artists.
“There are a lot of artists who are successful today who wouldn’t have had the same opportunities if they had not received those scholarships, so Arlene was integral,” Virgili observes.
Law is also one of the driving forces behind local art co-ops like the Cooper Corner Art Gallery that have brought a number of artists’ work to the store-fronts in Glenwood.
“I keep trying to inspire other artists to produce. They will say to me, ‘I want to paint someday,’ and I say, ‘Why don’t you do it now?’ I tell them to just sit and do it for an hour. They don’t have to spend hours and hours. Just take a class and start,” says Law, who has held a painter’s group at her home every week for the last 30 years.
When asked where her passion comes from, she says it has to do with both raising the regard for handmade art in general–“I just like to see original art hanging in people’s living rooms and bathrooms even!”–as well as a deep connection with who she is as an artist on a personal level.
“Art is everything to me,” she says simply, then adds with a laugh, “Except for my grandkids and great-grandkids, of course!”
Though she thoroughly enjoys her role as a wife and mother, Law says her role as an artist is an equally essential part of who she is.
“Where else would I be if I wasn’t an artist?” asks Law.
This spring Law has been invited by fellow local artist (and close friend of more than 60 years) Sally Thompson to show a selection of art in the Retrospective Exhibit at the Glenwood Library. Thompson said the collection is primarily for viewing, though a few select pieces will be on sale.
Like Law, Thompson says that painting is an essential part of her life, and exhibits like these are a way to share their work and inspire others.
The exhibit runs April 1-30, 2016 and celebrates “50 years of friendship and inspiring a community to enjoy and create art”. For those who would like to meet Law and Thompson and learn more about art opportunities in the valley, stop by the Cooper Corner Gallery at 315 8th St. or go to http://www.coopercornergallery.com.