The annual celebration taking place in Telluride and Mountain Village this weekend was formerly called Cars and Colors.
Frankly, it’s still possible: the “colors” in the original title of the festival (now renamed Telluride Autumn Classic) referred to the expanses of russet, orange and gold covering the local hills at this time of year. .
The shiny changing aspen and oak leaves are due to the alchemy of nature. But in Mountain Village today (Friday) through Sunday, there’s more to the palettes than just random — albeit splendid — gifts from nature. Instead, at the Fall Classical Fine Arts Festival, you’ll find examples of creative expression in mediums ranging from painting, sculpture and photography to fiber art and even handcrafted knives with inlaid handles.
Knifemaker Loren Feldman, for example, crafts knife handles encrusted with minerals, gemstones, and dinosaur bones. Some of the blades are made of iron meteorites, “from the core of another planet older than Earth”.
The artists themselves may not be familiar to attendees of the Fall Classic, but their concerns and passions are likely to match the sensibilities of visitors. “Artists come from all over,” said landscape photographer Sherry Little Fawn Schuessler, who has curated the show for a few years with her husband, artist Michael Schuessler (who specializes in pastels on canvas).
The Schuesslers’ own works are nods to the changes in the local landscape you might find at this time of year. Michael, for example, has created a new series incorporating “resin on canvas, with gold leaf, to create a one-of-a-kind glass effect.” Also on view this weekend: black-and-white wildlife photographs by Beth Houts; vividly colored images “that represent the culture and beauty of the Southwest, from the indigenous peoples to the wildlife to the dramatic landscape”, in the words of Arizona painter Ray Tigerman; natural stones, cut and arranged to resemble “a three-dimensional landscape” of peaks and valleys by Marshall and Jerry Locke (“The natural colors and textures of stone take the viewer on a journey into these mountains”).
“We try to tap into” what attendees most want to see, Sherry said. “My husband does a series of golden leaf trees. In my photography, I try to incorporate the colors and landscapes of autumn.
“The art festival is a great addition” to the Fall Classic, said its founder, Ray Cody. “When we started to set up (the festival of fine arts), we saw it as an element that should “integrate” well with our clientele. We asked artists, as they create their art, to “include more images that evoke Telluride” and that sort of thing.
The creatives were happy to oblige, Cody added. “The number of responses (the Schuesslers) is unbelievable. They have to refuse the artists.
“We select every artist” at this juried exhibition, Sherry said; some 35 are due to appear with their works at Heritage Plaza from today through Sunday. “A lot of them have never been shown here before,” she explained. “We only bring a few. We want everyone to be amazing! We are doing our best.
“We’re having a blast,” she added. “It’s the perfect time of year to put on a show. There are many visitors here; what people want is a little piece of Telluride when they get home. We offer them that.
The Festival of Fine Arts runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Heritage Plaza today and Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Free entry. The Telluride Autumn Classic is giving attendees a chance to express themselves creatively: Submit a photo of a favorite scene from this weekend’s ‘Car in Autumn Colors’ by 9 p.m. Saturday for a chance to win a cash prize from Box Canyon Bicycles. Visit tellurideautumnclassic.com to learn more.