The 1970s and ‘80s were an important time for the arts in this country. It was a time when techniques were being borrowed from industry, scaled down to fit into artists’ studios, and taught in college art departments. New things were happening. Artists and craftspersons were using technology and applying it to their studio practices. Summervail was a location where all of these ideas and processes could be learned and shared. Friendships were formed that endure to the present day. Relationships were formed that inspired future collaboration with visiting artists, faculty exchanges, and cutting edge exhibitions. Summervail brought together young creatives, students and “fast guns”, pairing them with more established makers.
The workshop was paired with and supported by Colorado Mountain College. Once the workshop became more established the word got around the art community and the Summervail Workshop became a national gathering place. People would come for one class and end up spending the entire summer.
The Summervail Workshops had a significant impact on most of those were there either as instructors, young professionals, or students. It was an important time in our lives and although I don’t imagine many of us ever gave it more than casual recognition, it was where we made life-long friends, established our networks of professional contacts, and learned to give and gain the respect of our colleagues and fellow artists. It did a lot to form our attitudes and opinions.
Over the course of its 14-year span, Summervail Workshop served over 9,000 students taught by 500 internationally prominent visiting artists through 850 different workshops and symposia. Students came from 15 different nations and nearly every state in the U.S. The Summervail Workshop had projected Vail and Upper Eagle Valley as a leader of arts in the United States. The workshop provided experiences, excelled at education, and touched the lives of young and old alike. It became a favorite crossroad for artists travelling across the county.