Artist Spotlight: Sara Gallagher |

Artist Spotlight: Sara Gallagher

Masselope, oil & wax on canvas, 24-by-48 inches, 2012
Sara Gallagher |

Sara Gallagher is a relative newcomer to the valley, but she wasted no time in diving right into the art scene.

She works with the Bookcliffs Arts Center in Rifle, and her work is currently hanging in Olive Ridley’s Coffee Tea & Travel, an underground coffee shop with a rotating gallery. She will also lead a workshop next month at Mistyoga in Rifle, where she’ll discuss the effects of color on one’s daily life.

Gallagher shared with the Post Independent how and why she came to the valley, what she’s done here so far and what appeals to her about the creative lifestyle.

Post Independent: How and when did you come to the area, and why did you decide to stay?

Sara Gallagher: I came to Colorado for the first time nearly one year ago in September to attend a wonderful monthlong artist residency at Elsewhere Studios in Paonia. ‘This place usually hooks at least one person in each time…’ was the report I got from the locals. Well, it took all of two weeks for myself to become a part of this growing statistic. I called my boss in San Francisco and told her I just couldn’t come back.

It was this place… the landscape. Out here (in the Western Colorado regions) there’s an openness that I haven’t felt before. Open land, open space… breathing room. I hadn’t realized how starved of personal space I was until arriving here.

PI: How did you get involved in the Bookcliffs Arts Center? Why do you think it’s a vital organization to the area?

SG: Well, one of the first things I did when I got to the area was scope the valley for different opportunities to get involved with the local art community. I came across the BAC during a pretty large revamp of their facility’s internal development. Excited to promote growth, I joined the board of directors. With continued involvement from community members — big and small — the Bookcliffs has all the potential to be the most vital arts and humanities hub in western Garfield County.

PI: Tell me about your art that’s on display at Olive Ridley’s in Rifle.

SG: Chris McClean, another avid artist and arts pursuer, is the pioneer to thank for the start of the rotating art shows in Rifle’s new underground coffee shop. I first met Chris when he reached out to me (along with numerous other creatives in these parts) in efforts to connect the creatives together to brainstorm ‘how to bring art to the town.’

Since then, together we’ve participated in BAC events, the CCAH artist booth at Mountain Fair, and both now have been a showcased artist at Olive Ridley’s. This is a great example of the artist community at work.

The show currently on display at Olive Ridley’s compiles 13 original pieces of mine completed within the last year, along with prints and card sets of my In-Spirit series (originals on display at Mistyoga in Rifle). Every piece is influenced by my surroundings (currently, Colorado). Also included is the very last painting I did the month before I first left for my residency in Paonia. “40th Ave,” the street on which I lived, holds strong the essence of Colorado, as that’s where my head was mentally preparing to be while painting it.

PI: When did you first get interested in art? And when did you decide you wanted to do it professionally?

SG: I’ve practiced art since I could pick up a pencil. With deep gratitude, I have known this was my life’s course always. With even deeper gratitude, I was blessed to be raised in a household that supported this decision (and any decision of the heart, really).

PI: What mediums do you work in?

SG: Currently my main medium is oil. Most recently I have been utilizing different tiers of this medium in means such as ‘oil on canvas,’ ‘oil on thrift,’ ‘oil on wood,’ ‘oil on glass’ and ‘oil on aspen.’ The surface, medium and artist are a triad of dialogue, continually informing the outcome. Always.

PI: Tell me about your formal and informal art training.

SG: Doodling as a child. Crafting with my mom. Recording monologues on cassette players. First published art being a drawn portrait of my dog dressed in queen’s attire. I was 5, it was in a ‘Highlights’ magazine — the ones you see in dentist waiting rooms. Electives were art. Major was art. Bachelors of fine arts with a dual emphasis in photography and painting & drawing from San Francisco State University. Inspiration comes everywhere — from the earth to the ethereal. My burning fire is the creative soul inside of me. That fire recognizes the ember, spark, flame and sun that is luminescent inside of everyone.

PI: What inspires the content of your work?

SG: Studying the interconnectedness between the external world with the internal world for the past decade, this has and will always inform each of my pieces.

PI: Tell me about the workshop you’ll be hosting at Mistyoga in Rifle.

SG: I am thrilled to announce my first workshop in this valley, ‘Color as Mantra: An Introduction to Color Awareness in One’s Daily Life.’ The first of many different workshops under the tier of ‘compassionate nurturing of one’s intuitive creative self.’

The ‘Color as Mantra’ series in particular is a true personal delight; the topic just fascinates me!

Facilitating a place to hold discussions, learn practices and share reflections, this four-week comprehensive course will grant one tools to understand the deeper resonating effects color has on one’s life.

Held on Sundays in October from 6 to 8 p.m. at Mistyoga in Rifle.

To acquaint you further with this workshop, we are hosting a free hourlong discussion Sunday, Sept. 13, from 6 to 7 p.m. at Mistyoga. Please bring your friends!

$84 early-bird registration; $105 after info session at or

PI: In general, why do you love art?

SG: ‘Art’ is a general word for something that is made from one’s own creative intuitive. The translation between heart, hand and medium. Material, movement, sound, feeling, truth… this is what art is to me. And this is why I know for certain it exists inside of every being. ‘It’ translating to your own authentic, creative self — waiting, in loving patience, for you to nurture it.

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