The visual appeal of Salida and Buena Vista has long inspired those visiting the area. Taking inspiration from those visuals are art communities that grow with each passing year. The arts in the county grew out of the valley’s mining and energy bust of the 1980s to become an economic force, an attraction to art lovers as well as artists themselves. Today, visitors will find a variety of workshops, galleries, public art events, art festivals and live entertainment as Colorado’s Upper Arkansas Valley celebrates the arts.
In recognition of its numerous art studios and galleries, in 2012 downtown Salida was named one of Colorado’s first Creative Districts.
The arts in Salida took hold in the 1980s and 1990s when the valley’s mining and energy economy tanked, leading to high unemployment, business closures and vacant downtown storefronts. With cheap rents, low real estate prices and abundant outdoor recreation and natural beauty for inspiration, the arts in Salida gained a foothold. In 1998, traveland arts writer John Villani designated Salida one of the 100 best small art towns in America … and Salida’s affair with the arts was on its way.
Dozens of studios and galleries today feature artists and their work, from traditional landscapes to wild-side eclectic creations. Step into the shops and you’re likely to be talking to the artist whose studio is in the back of the building.
Visitors will find retailing variety, including necessities like groceries and banks along with clothing stores, antique and secondhand businesses and stores offering outdoor sports gear, gifts and real estate, with most all locally-owned.
In 2012, downtown Salida was officially-designated as one of Colorado’s first Creative Districts. Many historic downtown buildings are home to working studios and galleries. Numerous galleries are interactive. You may watch an artist at work or participate in a workshop. Buena Vista is home to several art galleries.
Visitors will find sculptures, murals and outdoor art in the valley. Creations range from a fairy tale-inspired water fountain in downtown Buena Vista to a ceramic tile outdoor living area in South Main to decorated foot bridges in Salida can be found while strolling town streets and public walkways. In Salida outdoor art is displayed at the Strawn/Grether Sculpture Garden at the SteamPlant Event Center on Sackett Ave. and as sculpture-signs downtown.
ArtWalk takes place the last weekend in June. This three-day celebration in Salida was created to acknowledge, support and promote the visual and performing arts community. The second Saturday of each month is a mini version of ArtWalk, featuring a different theme and artist receptions.
A year-round calendar of performing arts complements and enhances a bounty of visual arts. Many outdoor musical events are held at Salida Rotary Amphitheater at Riverside Park in Salida or at The Beach at South Main in Buena Vista. The historic SteamPlant Theater and Event Center is host to many performing arts events.
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