In Palisade, Colorado, a harmony of natural phenomenon and cultivated land draws artists to the eastern end of the Grand Valley. Peaches, grapevines and lavender grow in orderly compliment to expansive rock formations and the Colorado River’s curving path. On display along the thoroughfares and byways are artistic interpretations. Wine tasting rooms pair art with pours of Cabernet Sauvignon. Sculptures of iron and stone and fruit trees stand alongside orchards and on Main Street. The creative cornerstone of Palisade’s vibrant art community is the Blue Pig Gallery, 101 W 3rd St.
Executive Director Kay Crane says The Blue Pig is a “destination gallery,” where visitors can browse through The Piglet gift shop in the “Art Cellar” or weave through the main floor’s maze of displays. The workshop on the top floor features studies for those who want to expand their palette of expertise guided by notable fine artists like Nancy Lewis. Additionally, it is a venue for local events, home to the annual Art & Chocolate walk and juried contests for event artwork, including Colorado Mountain Winefest and the Palisade Peach Festival.
Artists who show at the gallery share time as hosts and event volunteers true to the co-op spirit and many are associated with groups connected to the gallery like Palisade Art Lovers (PALS), Plein Air Artists and new kid on the block Palisade Art Vision (PAV).
Palisade Art Vision’s mission is to share art; to make it part of an everyday experience— one that is not driven by destination, but by passersby awareness. Recently, PAV worked with the town of Palisade to install sculptures on loan around various municipal locations. Local artist Dave Davis developed the concept for Art on the Corner (AOTC) back in 1984 in an effort to help revitalize downtown Grand Junction.
PALS began over forty years ago by likeminded women who wanted to share their typically isolating art activities in a more social atmosphere. They meet once a month and collaborate to sponsor annual art shows. For years, the “Peach Blossom Art Show” was their salute to spring awaking in the orchards. In 2015, they organized “A Dam Art Show,” a singular celebration for the Roller Dam’s 100th birthday (Grand Valley Diversion Dam in DeBeque Canyon). For this event, contributing artists were granted rare behind-the-gates access for the opportunity to paint in plein air.
Plein air painters, however, don’t need a special event to be inspired. PALS president Susan Metzger says artists set up in the outdoors where businesses like Z’s Orchard and Sage Creations Organic Farm welcome them into their fields. Artists from Utah and all over Colorado “tend to migrate to Palisade,” says Metzger, who specializes in batik. “The river with its giant old cottonwoods, the sinuous canals, the rows of trees—the inspiration is endless.”