Fair brings out county’s artists
Post Independent Staff
When she was a young girl growing up on the Cotton Ranch in Eagle, the landscape and wildlife constantly inspired Vari Reichardt to draw and paint.
“From the third grade on I knew I wanted to be an artist,” said Reichardt, grand champion in last year’s Garfield County Fair in the fine arts advanced competition. “My dad was the manager of the Cotton Ranch, where the golf course is today, from the 1950s on. He saw farming go from horse-drawn plows to the tractors of today. He loved art, and he encouraged me in that aspect.”
Today, the mother of five ” who lives south of Silt with her husband, David, and kids ” continues her passion with charcoal and pastel drawings and acrylic and watercolor paintings.
“I do so many different things,” said Reichardt, who has a bachelor’s degree in art from Mesa State College. “I love to draw birds ” ducks and geese, mostly. My favorite pictures are those I do of the ranch I grew up on.”
Last year, Reichardt’s blue ribbon-winning entry was a charcoal drawing of a mother swan and her baby. She originally submitted into the amateur class, but was unknowingly bumped up to advanced.
“I saw some of the other artwork when I entered last year, and they were fairly good, so I was surprised that I won,” she said. “It doesn’t matter so much if I win or lose. It used to when I was younger, but now I just like to show my art.”
Classes in the fair’s fine arts competition include water media, graphic design, pastel arts, acrylic and oil painting, mixed media and photography.
In 2004, Tina Collins was grand champion in the professional section for her colored-pencil drawing of her horses. She and her family own 10 horses in New Castle.
“I like to draw foals and their mamas,” said Wilson, a pet portrait artist who also competes in rodeos with her family as a team roper. “Most of the time I draw people’s dogs ” generally ladies will have me draw their dogs who are deceased or their husband’s dog for a Christmas or birthday present.”
Collins said she prefers pencil as a medium because she travels so much. She and her family compete in the Snowmass and Carbondale rodeos, and spend several months out of the year in Arizona.
“I can travel with pencils, and I can draw on the road,” said Collins, a self-taught artist who said she always took art classes in high school. “We rodeo, so I kind of have to take my drawings with me.”
Combining her love of art and western life, Collins has donated her work for the cover of the Strawberry Days rodeo program on more than one occasion.
“I’m really just low-key, and I don’t advertise,” she said. “My pet portraits are mostly by word of mouth.”
Along with fine arts competitions at the Garfield County Fair, ribbons are awarded for talents including needlework, floriculture, floral arranging, crafts, food preservation and wine, and baking. Collins said the fair offers a great outlet for a variety of people in the county.
“I think it’s a great fair,” she said. “I taught 4-H, and my daughter participated in 4-H events. But lately we’ve just been rodeoing.”
Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518
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Grace Wesseling is an animal lover, a cheerleader of seven years and another soon-to-be graduate of Bridges High School, class of 2021.