Art Stalk: Jamie Vaida at Telluride Fire Festival Jan. 15-17 |

Art Stalk: Jamie Vaida at Telluride Fire Festival Jan. 15-17

Camille Silverman
Free Press Columnist
Jamie Vaida's art car at night.
Submitted photo |


WHAT: Telluride Fire Festival

WHERE: Telluride, Colorado

WHEN: Jan. 15-19

COST: Varies


The inaugural Telluride Fire Festival is soon upon us. The Jan. 15-19 event is packed with events like fireside chats, sculptural wonders, various workshops and fire performances. Oakland, California, artist and former Grand Junction resident Jamie Vaida is heavily involved in this event with a collaborative “art car.“ Vaida constructed it with sculptor Alvin Sessions in Glade Park, Colo., at Alvin’s home studio.

I have known Vaida for years. Once upon a time in Grand Junction, a distinct arts community formed out of a triangle of alternative hangouts popular with local artists. The three hot spots for area artists in the late 1990s (let’s say turn of the century) were Planet Earth Gallery (owned by artist Caole Lowry), KAFM Radio, and Sundrop Organic Grocery (owned by Bob and Joan Weiss). Artists of all sorts bumped into each other, found each other jobs, worked out collaborations, and contemplated shared studio spaces at these important hubs.

Fast track to 2015 … Vaida is my polar opposite. He is much merrier, extremely generous in spirit, and always seemed so excited to “put it all out there.” He thrives on group energy and understood early on that together everyone moves forward faster. When I called him in California earlier this week, he immediately asked how I was and said: “I want to do more in Grand Junction; please keep me in mind. I love Colorado.” When you go onto his website you see someone who is interested in working with individual clients through collaborative design and final placement consideration.

This practicality and marketing is interesting because he has also been involved with Burning Man events in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for years. Burning Man sculptures are often times seen only once and exist for that single event often being burned in a performance. There are many questions that we might have for such a multifaceted artist, which is wonderful because Vaida will be doing fireside chats at The Hotel Telluride from 4-5 p.m. throughout the festival weekend.

Fun fact: Vaida was a KAFM 88.1 DJ for years on a visionary program he created the “Early Morning Supplement Show with the Vaida(man).” Two other Mesa County artists will be participating in the Telluride Fire Festival — Grand Junction resident Ryan Stringfellow (aka DJ Stangefellow) and Glade Park sculptor Alvin Sessions.

Telluride Fire Festival co-organizer Erin Ries said that this event is a great opportunity for the Western Slope community to see artists who work year-round and have received grants to create sculptures for these annual Burning Man events. Many of the creations are destroyed in Burning Man performances, so getting to see such works at the Telluride Fire Festival is not an opportunity to be taken for granted.

For the full calendar of Fire Festival events got to Vaida’s work can be seen at

Camille Silverman holds a Masters of Fine Art from Cranbrook Art Academy located outside of Detroit, Mich. She attended Cranbrook as well as The School of the Chicago Art Institute. Silverman currently holds the position of curator and executive director at The Western Colorado Center for the Arts, aka The Art Center. The word “Stalk” is important because implies relentless pursuit, but also implies the idea of growth, as in “Jack and the beanstalk.”

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