The depth, quality and diversity of local artists far surpass what you’d expect in such small communities. Painters, photographers, musicians, sculptors, potters and other creative souls seem to find something about the surroundings here that feels like home. Some are transplants who have settled in Summit County; some have lived here their whole lives. But they all take ample inspiration from the high country.
Although she was born in Chicago, Candice VanRunkle spent her childhood summers frolicking with her family at a dude ranch each summer in neighboring Granby. In the winter, her parents shuffled the family back and forth between their Chicago home and a small Aspen cabin so the they could ski. Over time, the family found a way to make its permanent home in the Rockies, whose natural beauty helped young Candice discover her passion for art while in high school. VanRunkle found little time to pursue that passion while raising a family, but she has recently turned her energies to allowing her talent to blossom.
Beautiful bold oils with a folksy, unique style, VanRunkle’s paintings are inspired by random colors, a word overheard during conversation or a scent in the air. Hip Hip Hooray, for example, an oil on canvas, draws on the theme “life is beautiful”
for its vibrantly colored, whimsical depiction of a rhinoceros bouncing on a handheld parachute. VanRunkle is a featured artist this summer at Hibberd McGrath Gallery, where her work can be viewed daily; she also has a special showing scheduled for August 14 through September 6.
Kate Kiesler is another artistic transplant who has made Summit County her home. Originally from New Hampshire, she attended the Rhode Island School of Design and graduated with a degree in illustration. After a year of living in the artsists’ mecca of Taos, New Mexico, Kiesler tried a ski season in Summit County. Since she had grown up in a ski community, Summit felt like home—and she has been here ever since.
Having illustrated more than 20 books for children, Kiesler now pursues landscape painting full time. “It allows me to paint what I want and choose my own subjects without having a schedule or layout to adhere to,” she explains. Her attention is centered on mountain scenes with an emphasis on waters and their reflective quality. Living in Silverthorne near the base of Buffalo Mountain fuels her creative process; she simply has to look out the front door.
Kiesler is also currently an adjunct faculty member at Colorado Mountain College in its fine art department, teaching painting in several different media. She has participated in the Colorado Governor’s Invitational and many national juried events, and her works are displayed at the Hayden Hays Gallery in Colorado Springs and the Breckenridge Art Gallery in Breckenridge. Her one-woman show at the Breckenridge Art Gallery is scheduled to open July 31.
Holly Resignolo is the associate publisher of Colorado Summit Magazine.