If gallery owner and sculptor Catherine Schmid had her way, Frisco would work even harder to be the Austin, Texas, of Colorado—close-knit and charmingly weird, as it was when she first arrived two decades ago. Nowadays, she says the knob on the funkiness factor has been turned down considerably, but she and a handful of other artists do what they can to keep the community’s rogue artistic spirit alive.
Schmid’s What’s New Gallery (416 Main St., 970-668-9601), which she has run with her husband, Smitty, for the past twelve years, is the blaringly colorful home to the couple’s handcrafted art glass, metal sculptures, and clay products, all made in the studio behind the business. “We make what we sell, and there aren’t many of us left who do that,” she says. Proudly local, the gallery has no website, takes no phone orders, and occasionally shoos out visitors snapping iPhone pictures: “If you like it, you should probably buy it,” goes the Schmids’ motto. “Don’t get your potter daughter in Ohio to make the same thing for you.”
Up the street, photographer Todd Powell and his wife, Tracy, also take a tag-team approach to business at their gallery (211 Main St., 970-668-2280). Todd, a twenty-five-year resident, evocatively captures images near and dear to the hearts of both Summit residents and out-of-towners: aspen trees, panoramas of snowcapped mountains, wildflowers, and iconic scenes of Victorian-era cabins. Tracy does most of the finishes and framing in-house, as well as offering a smattering of her own pottery.
She notes that the recent closure of the Columbine Gallery left a big hole in the local scene, though owner Bill Bickerton has thankfully joined the diverse co-op of artists who inhabit the second floor of the Frisco Emporium (313 Main St., 970-390-0774). While many visitors stroll in simply to check out the eclectic antiques—from ski posters to snowshoes—if you climb up the stairs on either side of the old railway mail car, you’ll find microgalleries devoted to Lorna Babcock and her hand-burned wooden signs, Southwestern artist Mark Ortiz, metal crafter Todd Buckendahl, and glassblower John Hudnut. Emporium owner Jackie Crandall also hosts an interior design and vintage clothing business. In addition to fostering its artists’ colony, the Emporium contributed to Frisco’s weirdness by spawning a full-blown German beer hall, Prost, in its lobby.
Keep digging around a bit in Main Street’s happily chaotic collection of turn-of-the-century buildings, and you’ll be sure to find other absolutely local treasures.