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Steamboat Magazine

An Artist’s Dream Come True

06/11/2020 05:06PM ● By Alesha Damerville

By Alesha Damerville

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – The saying “starving artist,” exists for a reason. An ongoing struggle found throughout the artist community is lack of studio space, and their homes rarely provide the resources needed to finish projects.

Just for a moment, imagine being that artist, wanting to create but having no space to do it in. In that same moment, imagine the idea of being awarded a studio to create your work in, for free. Steamboat Creates has made that thought a reality and this is the stuff dreams are made of.

In October of 2019, Steamboat Creates rose to the challenge of transforming a beat-up old caboose into a studio for temporary artist residency. Brooklyn-based artist Espartaco Albornoz Abreu was contracted to paint the exterior, which took two weeks as the artist was fighting the snow. The interior was started in November via donation by Rumor Designs and was finished in April. 

No detail is too small for this makeover. The original chairs were refurbished, rebuilt and reupholstered, a wall with perfect lighting was set up for photographers, a large desk with ample workspace was added and seating was brought in for guests. 

“We are excited to launch the Caboose Artist Studio Residency program this summer,” says Sylvie Piquet, program director and facility manager for Steamboat Creates. “The Caboose Artist Studio Residency program provides local artists a place to create without the burden of high rent for a dedicated workspace.”

“The studio will be available to local artists to apply for residency during the warm weather months. Local artist Sierra McKee from the Young Bloods Collective is our first artist to be in the studio residency June–September. She will use the caboose as a studio to create her drawings,” Piquet says. “Typically, this will be an open-studio concept so visitors can go inside to see the artist creating – given the current pandemic, the studio will be closed to the public until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Sierra will have an exhibit in the Depot Art Center in August to display work she has worked on throughout the summer.” 

McKee says she feels grateful to be selected as the first artist to take up residency in the Caboose.

“Young Bloods Collective reached out to their members informing them of the opportunity to be considered for Steamboat Creates Artist Residency program,” McKee says. “It seemed like too great of an experience to pass up on! I submitted a statement of intent, describing my current creative endeavors, as well as how I would like to pursue growth in my work.” 

“The most exciting part of being selected for the Steamboat Creates Artist Residency program is having the time and space to further develop my art,” McKee adds. “Through focused practice and experimentation, I hope to pursue a new body of work exploring a concept across a range of mediums. I am incredibly grateful to have been selected for this artistic adventure.” 

“Renovation of the caboose is going to give it new life as an artist's studio,” says Kim Keith, executive director for Steamboat Creates. “When I started at the Arts Council – now Steamboat Creates – in November 2013, I was so upset about the condition of the vehicle. It was vandalized and dirty, with broken glass and disgusting graffiti on the walls. We sealed it up, put surveillance in place and started devising a plan. Once Dagny McKinley came to the team, she too became impassioned to transform the caboose.”  

“Steamboat Creates wants to support and inspire local artists through a studio residency,” Keith says. “We will also open the space to esteemed visiting artists who will become inspiration and mentors for our local creatives and youth.”  

“You have these dreams that take a long time to realize,” Keith says. “They require patience, persistence and strategic partnerships as well as leadership. Dagny McKinley has shown extraordinary leadership at Steamboat Creates, gathering the community partners, donors, interior designers, painters, muralists and contractors. She put her heart into transforming this space. It has been a labor of love and will be home to various artists for studio residency.”