Colorado Art RanchPhoto: David Peterson

Salida Artposium May 21-23, 2010

Wade Logo



Cameron Scott: Review
Colorado Art Ranch, Wade in the Water

The West is the native home of hope.” –William Kittredge

For three days of spring, the Arkansas sang as the Salida Steam Plant filled with patrons and presenters for the 2010 Artposium: Wade in the Water.  

While it is true I spent half of the weekend camping up the 175 road just outside Salida in the back of my pick up, for some reason I didn’t sleep much. As one in a long series of serendipitous events, I woke up and climbed out of the pick-up bed into the sunshine, and two bright yellow birds landed in front of me then jumped into a pine tree and disappeared over the ridge. Sleepy eyed, I jumped into my truck and drove back down with a big smile on my face for Saturday’s events.

You see, the first night after Craig Childs gave his presentation, my mind was still whirling on about the Atacama Desert. Have you ever been struck funny, sideways funny, heard a bunch of words coming out of someone's mouth that broke through cliché and clicked into you? Craig’s visceral account of the Atacama desert, his meditations on water and where it can be found in a desert environment, and his very open and real account of existing as a human water bag crossing the driest place on earth, reverberated not only with me, but with everyone. To have such a disarming and human speaker created a perfect tone for the rest of the weekend (I could have used his sage advice before going to Graduate School in Tucson: “We don’t go into the desert to seek the desert, we go into the desert to find water….”).

With the last notes of Linda Taylor and the Noteables still ambling around in my ears (which brought a small segment of the Salida community out to listen to them and be a part of the event. A handful of them were sitting up in the upper balcony with me and were all smiles), I began my drive into the warm and windy evening looking for a camping spot. It seemed fitting after Craig’s presentation that I drove along a dry wash, not the small mountain creeks I’m used to, into the high desert sage, gulches, and pine trees of the San Isabel National Forest.

The next morning, fresh from fishing for an hour on the Arkansas (my “Bird Watching”), it was amazingly  complimentary to hear Justice Greg Hobbes open up the morning with his unique combination of law and literature. Greg didn’t miss a beat as he began the morning’s presentation with his poetry, “I call upon the mountain track/ I call the scarlet to the jaw,” and a slide show on irrigation systems in the Americas, briefly touching on Colorado Water Law, and calling and recalling things Craig had said from the night before.  Behind the scenes I noticed Craig speaking at length with Greg throughout the weekend on a project he is working on.  It had only been a few short hours and already I had been seeing collaborations taking place between people and the landscape, and felt creativity blossoming.

Not only that, but I was having a ton of fun. How often do you get to sit and eat lunch with a Colorado Supreme Court Justice? A gentleman who was running open space grants on the Arkansas was sitting with us. As were Tim, and Don and Ila, and one or two others.  A few of the gems I was left with during time spent with Greg:

“What makes something “wet water” is when you take water onto dry land.”
“Some things involve trespass. As Martin Luther King proved: sometimes you have to go to jail.”
“It may not be just, but it bends towards justice.”

And while I’m at it, a few of the gems from Basia Irland:
“Water is the thing that changes so often we think we don’t need to change.”
“Each of the places we live needs restoring.”

And Craig:
“Water can go through pipes as easily as canyons. Water changes. This changes us. Water is not so malleable we can do anything to it.”  
“Half empty/half full… who cares. It matters how much water is in your glass. Because everything changes when there is not.”

As for the two workshops I took Saturday afternoon, Amy Laugesen’s “Notes from the Fish,” and Susan Tweit’s “Listening to the Voice of the River,” both were amazing.  What made Amy’s special was how prepared she was before hand with her assortment of tools and slide show. We were all packed into the small room, extra chairs were brought in, and we had six year olds to eighty six year olds (I might be fibbing there, but I’m close), but because of the preparation, clear explanation of her project, and then letting everyone delve into their work, and helping individuals, the room was lit with a creative fire. If I was lead into the room with a blindfold, the sheer amount of interaction and ideas and laughter and dialogued shared would have led me to believe I was in a college bar at happy hour, not amidst a clay workshop.

Susan’s writing workshop was also spectacular. She had a well laid out teaching plan for the afternoon, but when some magic started to happen, she sought it out, diverting from the game plan and bringing the large workshop together through on the spot exploration, lending her praise and keen writers’ eye to everyone’s work. Her intelligence and love of the physical world and the world of language was inspiring. All in all I think I left the two workshops with three clay fish and about three new poems. Wonderfully generative.

In the last panel discussion on Sunday there was some talk about serendipity, about the cohesion that happened on many different levels at this artposium. From panel speakers connecting with the artists in residence (it was amazing to see some of the discipline and dedication at work throughout the presentations at the café) to Craig’s kids connecting with clay, there were a lot of nodding heads in the audience.  

What more could one ask for on the heels of the talk Basra Irland gave about her ice books and about community and social responsibility? Maybe it was the pull of water and art that initially brought everyone to the residency which then created a unique bond, but the way each of the speakers brought their ideas and travels back to us in inimitable ways, reminding us of how we are also artists and travelers was, extraordinaire.  I think there was a lot of honest heartfelt thankfulness that went beyond mere razzle and dazzle of panel discussions by big name writers and artists.
Overall, I wish I could experience an artposium from the Colorado Art Ranch at least once a month. I was incredibly grateful to attend the artposium as a volunteer. There is much to be said for this kind of high caliber experience which not only takes place in Colorado, but is lead by a well intentioned and carefully crafted vision. From meeting fellow artists, to presenters, to people who care about the arts, this past weekend was amazing and I hope these artposiums continue for years to come. AND most of all that they continue to inspire and connect people within the arts, sciences, and other disciplines in Colorado and beyond.

Schedule in PDF


Greg Hobbs
Justice Greg Hobbs took office as a member of the Colorado Supreme Court on May 1, 1996.  He practiced water, environmental, land use and transportation law for 25 years before that.  He is a co-convener of the western water judges educational project, Dividing the Waters; Vice President of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education; and the author of In Praise of Fair Colorado, The Practice of Poetry, History, and Judging (Bradford Publishing Co. 2004), Colorado Mother of Rivers, Water Poems (Colorado Foundation for Water Education 2005), and The Public’s Water Resource, Articles on Water Law, History, and Culture (Continuing Legal Education in Colorado, Inc. 2007).

Mother of Rivers

When I was young the waters sang
of being here before I am,
of falling sweet and soft and slow
to berry bog and high meadow.
And held me in her lap and cooed
the willow roots, the gaining pools,
and called me through bright dappled grass
and called me O, My Shining One;
And shaped a bed to lay me on
and played the flute so high and clear.
And shape the stones to carry me,
when I am young and full of fight
for roaring here and roaring there,
for pouring torrents in the air.
When I am young as mountain snow
in crag and cleft and cracked window;
I call the green-backed cutthroat trout,
I call the nymph and hellgrammite,
I call the hatch to catch a wind,
I call upon the mountain track;
I call the scarlet to the jaw
as morning calls her own hatchlings,
call Yampa, White, the Rio Grande,
San Juan, the Platte, the Arkansas.
-- in celebration of the 30th year
of Colorado's instream flow law 

-Greg Hobbs


Craig Childs
Author Craig Childs' work focuses on natural sciences, archaeology, and mind-blowing journeys in the wilderness. He has spent years in the American Southwest canyon country, exploring the geography and the implications of water’s presence and non-presence. He has published more than a dozen acclaimed books on nature, science, and adventure, including House of Rain and The Secret Knowledge of Water. Additionally, he’s a commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition and has contributed to The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Outside Magazine, and Orion.


Secret Knowledge of Water
Basia Irland
University of New Mexico Professor Emerita, author and artist Basia Irland often works with scholars from diverse disciplines building rainwater harvesting systems; connecting communities along lengths of rivers; filming and producing water documentaries; and creating waterborne disease projects around the world, most recently in Egypt, Ethiopia, India, and Nepal.

Basia is the recipient of over forty grants including a Senior Fulbright Research Award for Southeast Asia, Woodrow Wilson Foundation Fellowship Grant, and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Research Grant. She lectures and exhibits extensively. Essays about her work have been included in books published in Germany, England, Switzerland, and the U.S.

Basia book Closed









Basia Book1






Salida Artposium: Wade in the Water
May 21-23, 2010
Registration: $225 (includes all presentations, workshops, meals and reception)

You may register for the three presenters individually at $35 each

We have secure online registration, but if you don't like that new-fangled stuff, you can call Grant Pound (executive director) at 303.279.5198 or send a check to:

Colorado Art Ranch
6878 Taft Court
Arvada, CO 80004

Register online


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The following motels are holding a few rooms at a reduced rate for Colorado Art Ranch. Mention our name when making a reservation. The rooms are on a first come, first served basis and will be available until May 1, 2010.

Woodland Motel (walking distance from SteamPlant)
903 West 1st Street
Salida, CO 81201

Comfort Inn
315 East Rainbow Blvd. (Hwy 50)
Salida, CO 81201


See Tourist Information for other lodging.