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Between a rock and an art place

Post Independent/April E. Clark
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During his first artist-in-residency in April, Ernest Delto only traveled about 200 miles to meet people from around the world.

“I met lots and lots of interesting people from all over the world ” Japan, Canada, all over Europe,” said Delto, of his residency April 8-22 at Arches National Park in Moab. “One fellow stood out with a very expensive camera. He leaned over my shoulder for about two seconds and said, ‘You painters are wired differently.'”

Delto, who prefers the challenge of watercolor and pastel landscapes, contacted Arches about the residency because one of his favorite places to paint is the desert. The Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Northwest are also typical subjects of his work.



“I’ve wanted to do a residency for several years now and noticed Arches didn’t have one specifically. I called the chief of interpretations and she said, ‘We don’t have the permanent facilities or studios,'” Delto said. “I told her, ‘All I want is a place to park my camper. I don’t want to work in a studio.’ If I did, I’d just stay at work. I pretty much wrote my own ticket.”

A career architect who runs his own firm out of his Glenwood Springs home, Delto said he had the opportunity to see Arches in a different light.



“Arches is really just an incredible place. There’s unique scenery behind every corner and every pinnacle,” Delto said. “I was usually up in the morning by 8 a.m. for the lighting, and it’s cooler then. And the shadows are more dramatic then.”

Carol, Delto’s wife of 43 years, joined him at the Devil’s Garden Campground for the two-week residency. On April 20, the Glenwood Springs Art Guild member led an evening program titled, “A Celebration of Creation” for park visitors. The audience happened to include a group of high school students from Durango.

“We talked about what my opinion of art is. One of the comments I made at the campfire talk was people should take more time to look around rather than go from one point to the other,” Delto said. “Spend some time looking ” look at different angles and consider different times of day to explore.”

Diane Allen, chief of interpretations for Arches National Park, said Delto had a receptive audience during his campfire chat.

“The night he did his evening program, he asked the high school students how many were in art classes and about half of the kids raised their hands,” Allen said. “I think it was special he had that audience.”

Allen said the first-time residency was a positive experience for Delto and the park.

“I think the artist slant, typically in national parks, is commonly ignored. It was very cool to have that skill here,” she said. “The fact that Ernest was willing to bring his camper down is great because primarily we don’t have a residence or cabin like other parks do. He’s going to pick one of his pieces of artwork and donate it to the park.”

Delto said he hopes to do more outdoor artist residencies in the future.

“I’d like to go back to Arches and maybe a few other parks ” if there’s interest,” he said.

– Where: Moab, Utah

– How high: 4,085 to 5,653 feet

– How wide: 76,519 acres

– How many arches: more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches

– Who lived there: hunters and gatherers migrated to Moab at the end of the Ice Age about 10,000 years ago

– Who knew? A living crust called “cryptobiotic soil” covers much of Arches and the surrounding area. Composed of algae, lichens and bacteria, these crusts provide a secure foundation for desert plants.

Glenwood Springs

Landscapes are my preferred subject as a celebration of creation. The moods, beauty and uniqueness of the natural landscape have always been a fascination for me. Unique places are the primary influences of my work. What is unique always varies. Sometimes it is a picturesque place. Sometimes it’s a feeling created by light or weather which evokes a response. My focus is to play up the uniqueness of my subject by emphasizing the lighting, color and center of interest rather than literal accuracy. My work, while portraying recognizable objects or places, is never photographic. I see the work of an artists as a matter of self-expression, and therefore, a translation of the subject to a two-dimensional format for the purpose of communication, self-expression and entertainment. As a painter, I have sought to capture the mood and essence of a place. Because of that goal my art tends more toward impressionism.

I am a Colorado native and have been motivated primarily by the beauty and grandeur of the Rocky Mountains, western desert and the Pacific Coast.

I have a bachelor’s of arts degree from Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, and completed a three-year program in commercial art at Famous Artist School in Westport, Conn. I also took several college-level art classes at the Denver Center of the University of Colorado and Colorado Mountain College. I have also attended workshops in watercolor and pastels with Tom Lynch and Maggie Price.

Exhibitions in which I have participated include Montrose Art League Fall Festival, Hotchkiss Fine Art Association, Glenwood Springs Art Guild’s Fall Art Festival, Black Canyon Art Exhibit, Garfield County Art Fair, Aspen Fine Art Gallery, and the Delta Fine Arts Exhibition. Galleries where my work is or has been displayed include Artists’ Mercantile in Glenwood Springs and Lake City Gift Shop in Lake City, Villalobos Gallery in Marble and Black Mountain in Oak Creek. Also included in my show experiences is a one-man show at the Village Smithy in Carbondale during May and June of 2001 and 2005. Awards received include first- and second-place awards at the Garfield County Fair, second place and Purchase Patron awards in the professional division at the Glenwood Springs Fall Art Festival, second place in the Montrose Visual Arts Exhibition and Excellence Award at the Colorado State University Industrial Arts Fair.

Wife of 43 years, Carol, and three grown children ” two daughters and one son

I always liked to doodle as a kid and it grew from there. I took commercial art classes for three years, but I didn’t really enjoy commercial art. I’m a licensed architect in Colorado. I do art for fun ” I’m an architect for a living.

Besides painting, I like fishing, camping and photography.

My preferred mediums are watercolor and pastels. As an architect, my graphic work is always tight, detailed and technically exact. I take an impressionistic approach to painting influenced by artists such as Tom Lynch, Tony Coach, Roland Roycraft, Robert Wade and Stephen Quiller. Using a more free, spontaneous medium has provided me with a more subjective and expressive response to those unique places and experiences.

Tom Lynch. He did a series of watercolor demos and I ordered a couple of his books. He’s probably one of my strongest influences ” he’s as good a teacher as an artist. I also studied under Tom Lynch at an expo in Sante Fe.

I have to say my wife is my biggest influence. She’s very supportive and my most-trusted critic.


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