Bristlecone works to inspire youth to create art throughout the Roaring Fork Valley
For Lindsay Latva, the name is a homage to simple resilience giving birth to unimaginable beauty.
“Bristlecones are strong, beautiful and durable trees, native to Colorado, that can withstand harsh climates and environments for hundreds of years,” said Latva, founder of Bristlecone Art Collaborative. “A beautiful metaphor for art and art education being around for thousands of years and surviving, and oftentimes flourishing in even the hardest conditions.”
Bristlecone Art Collaborative is a nonprofit created by Latva, and with it, she wants to build a stronger art community and offer support to art teachers throughout Garfield County.
“I was an art teacher for 12 years, and I saw some holes that I felt weren’t being filled, and that I would have liked to have had support in when I was a teacher,” she said. “I started really thinking about it while I was in the classroom and decided to step away from teaching to try to fill those holes for other teachers.”
The president of Bristlecone, Kyle Jones, was a music teacher who worked with Latva in Rifle. He said that there are similar organizations to Latva’s in the music world, but not as much in the art world. He said the immense amount of support that he received made him want to help Latva create that support for all of the art teachers in the county.
“In a rural community, we don’t have as much support,” Jones said. “This was something that not only would be valuable for the teachers but this community desperately needed.”
Latva’s concept was to help get students’ art out into the community for people to experience.
“There are a lot of really professional student artists out there that deserve the recognition for what they’re doing,” she said.
She has already helped find ways to display art by the students and partnered with the city of Glenwood Springs, the Carbondale Play Center, The Launchpad and more to display local students’ art.
“I think it was a really powerful experience for the kids to see their work in such a professional setting,” she said. “Their work looks so professional.”
Bristlecone has grown throughout the county and into Basalt. There have been art collaboratives with each of the libraries throughout the summer, and now Latva is ready to get back to working with teachers.
The work she does with the individual teachers is customized to what the instructor needs.
“What Bristlecone does is come in and supply support for their art shows, it supplies volunteer support, it supplies materials support, and it also supplies collaborative support,” Jones said. “So she’ll go in and help teachers plan, especially like first-year teachers. She’s in there helping them understand what to expect going into their first year.”
When she works with experienced teachers, she’s there to just be a helping hand, he said.
Although Latva has a strong team and had success last year, Bristlecone is growing, and she is looking for more willing partners within the community.
Whether it is a sponsorship, volunteers or artists wanting to help with collaborations, she is hoping to get as much help as possible.
Bristlecone offers a variety of sponsorships outside of funding the nonprofit as a whole. People can sponsor students and their art, sponsors can give student scholarships for art supplies, or even sponsor an art class somewhere like the Glenwood Springs Arts Center, the Carbondale Play Center or the Launchpad.
Supporters can purchase art as one of the best forms of support for the students.
“These go directly to the students and the teachers who are making this stuff happen,” Jones said. “Just bringing together this community. Sponsorships will help us because we’re also looking to bring in teaching artists.”
While she’s doing all of this, Latva is also doing professional development, with not just the districts here, but also at the Colorado Art Educators Association, Jones said.
“She’s a featured speaker giving out talks, she’s involved with the state’s art standards,” Jones said.
Latva is doing the work she loves and hopes to spread that job to all other art lovers.
“I mean, to be a teacher you have to love your craft so much,” Latva said.
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