Fort Collins Studio Tour

through the lense of awareness: a conversation with 2 artists by Jennifer Davey

Vintage Landscape  pinhole photograph courtesy of Laura Cofrin  Juror's Choice Award, Lincoln Center Studio Tour Preview Exhibit, 2014

Vintage Landscape pinhole photograph courtesy of Laura Cofrin

Juror's Choice Award, Lincoln Center Studio Tour Preview Exhibit, 2014

The Fort Collins Studio Tour is coming up this weekend (June 28th-29th, 2014)  I wanted to highlight two of my favorite local artists, Laura Cofrin and Loretta Cummings, who will be at the Valhall Arts Studio in Old Town.  Valhall Arts is also sponsoring my studio and the three of us have been collaborating on preparations for the studio tour, as well as being tremendous friends and artistic support for one another.  I am excited to share a little bit about their inspirations and challenges in regards to being artists.

Cofrin is a photographer dedicated to expanding the idea of what a photograph can be, how it can be made, and what it can look like.  She can be found on online at  You can see her Juror's Choice award winning photograph at The Lincoln Center Preview Exhibit.  Cummings encourages us to use attention, perception, and time as our art materials in order to make the world our studio.  "Try it, you'll like it!" encourages Cummings.   She can be found on twitter at  Below is an image from Cummings (Art)making meta-work/One Year Project.  Cummings drew everyday for one year, recording each daily drawing and posting it on twitter.  You can see all drawings projected at The Lincoln Center for the Studio Tour Preview Exhibit.  

Still image from Loretta Cummings year long (Art)making meta-work/One Year Project.

While setting up for the studio tour last week, I asked them 2 key questions about being an artist....

What is most inspiring to you about making art and being an artist?

Laura:  Making art is a creative out-pouring, a way to express myself.  It is all about the action, it is playful and fun.  I truly love the a-ha moment when the piece is a success.  This is what keeps you going.  That magical moment of witnessing a scene through the lense of the camera.  It makes me hyper aware of myself in the world.  

Loretta:  Being an artist is a really good job.  It is in fact the best job you could ever have.  I am particularly inspired by Richard Wright, winner of the Turner Prize in 2009.  He states, "The fragility of the experience is the hinge for me.  It makes the work more like a musical performance, something that exists in the memory of the creator and the audience, but can't be owned, sold, or carried around."  For me art is a way to remember I am here-a way to come back to the point of now. The way I work is to build some sort of 'container' and then put things in to it to keep me present.  Anyone can do this.  As artists we can see that all can do it.  

What do you find most challenging about being an artist?

Laura:  Not having the technical knowledge to produce the idea that is in my mind.  Which leads me to another challenge-my lack of ability to give up control in the making of the project!  If I was able to do so, I might be able to more easily collaborate with others who have the tech (or other) knowlege I was seeking to bring my idea to fruition.   It is also challenging to realize the more I do something the less I know!  I am finally challenged by my audience's reception.  I sometimes feel that the viewer wants to be told what the art is about and would like a drive-by solution.  Instead, what inspires me in a viewer is curiousity and a willingness to actively look, ask questions, wonder and experience the artwork on their own terms.  I guess because of my science background, I am always exploring and looking for unexpected and surprising results that generate more questions.  It is really energizing to have this kind of viewer who is willing to dive in, ask questions, and not know where it might lead.  

Loretta:  It is challenging for me to continually run into the frame of reference from others "why isn't what you do making money?  But my interests in working as an artist and what inspires me does not concern making money, it is irrelevant.  However, on the flip side, I think artists have done themselves a dis-service by upholding the myth that they will make art at any cost, without desire for personal gain.  This is not real.  It denies that we need to live and sustain this is a kunundrom.   I also agree with Laura that it is challening to not have the technical knowledge to make the projects I want to make!

You can learn more from and experience art by both Loretta and Laura this weekend at the Studio Tour.  (No. 9n on your studio tour map)  Both artists look forward to engaging your curiousity and questions!  

Be Awesome Buy Art by Jennifer Davey

As an artist, my joy is found in making art.  I don't think there is an artist out there who would be making art if they did not love it.  But the other side of the coin is, what happens to your art once it is made?  For anyone making art objects, when someone buys your art, it is very validating.  It is exciting.  And it allows you continue to do what you love, make art.  I spent some time talking with Traci, one of my largest local collectors, and we discussed the joys of collecting art.  I met Traci and her husband Tom in 2011 on the Fort Collins Studio Tour.  Since that time they have purchased a number of my pieces and we have become friends.  I wanted to share with others what impact buying art can have on artists and collectors.  

"Buying art is a luxury, but it is not frivolous"

How did you decide to start collecting art?

When Tom and I were first dating, we went to Columbine Gallery in Loveland.  I was surprised to find out there were so many Colorado artists who were making a living from their artwork.  I thought that was really cool.  I decided I wanted to buy local art as much as possible to support Colorado artists.  I liked that it went against the stereotype that one could only buy art and make a living as an artist in a big city.  

"No matter what your income, if you love art, you should have at least one piece of artwork in your home"

John Kinkade, owner of Columbine Gallery was very engaging.  He was warm, and open and would tell us stories about the artwork and the artists.  This made it personal and it really is what got me hooked.  I would then go home and research more about the artist online.  This really enriched my knowledge and the love of the artwork.  Meeting local artists through the Fort Collins Studio Tour has also been a great way to learn more about the artists and to collect their work.  

"Art is an investment.  You can change or trade an artwork, but I buy things because I love them and they speak to me.  I expect to be with them for a long time."

What does a collector gain from buying art?

By making an investment in art, you gain the enjoyment of seeing it everyday in your home. There are always new ways in which I see a work.  I notice something different due to the light, the time of day, or just seeing it in a new way.  My home is my sanctuary and artwork brings me joy."

What gets in the way of people buying art?

Commitment:  It is a commitment-a long term relationship.  Sometimes people are intimidated by that, like they will make the wrong choice or change their mind after their purchase.   Don't worry.  If you love something, you will enjoy it for many years to come.  It is also okay to change or trade in the future.

Money:  People assume that only the rich can buy art.  This is not true.  There are all sorts of possibilities to buy inexpensive art.  Look for young, emerging artists, or small artworks. 

Intimidation Factor:  Do not be intimidated!  Go into galleries, look at art, ask questions, learn what you like.  Ask if the artist has smaller works available.  Go to studio tours, talk to the artists. Look in cafes, at art fairs, anywhere.  Keep your eyes open and trust what you love.  No one can tell you what will bring you joy in your home.  

Do you have any final thoughts you'd like to share about collecting art?

Many years ago, before I was seriously collecting art, I saw a painting in a cafe.  It was of a chair and it had a very strong sense of serenity.  At the time I did not buy it.  I still think about that painting 20 years later!  That is the power art can have.  




The Artist's Studio: Place or Process? by Jennifer

Jennifer Davey  

Jennifer Davey  

Due to my recent move out of my studio at the museum, my quest for a new studio space, and my upcoming participation in the Fort Collins Studio Tour with Laura Brent and Valhall Arts, I have begun to consider this basic question:

What is the meaning of the artist's studio?

A visit to provides the root meaning of the word in question.

Studio: A work room of a sculptor or painter.  First used in 1819.

This definition stems from the Italian word studio or a room for study.

Study comes from the Latin roots studium: meaning study, application, or eagerness.

It also means

the application of the mind to the acquisition of knowledge.

including being zealous in applying oneself in this acquisition of knowledge.

This definition resonates with me.  It matches my desire to delve into the art and craft of painting.  Regardless of where my studio has been or will be located in space and time, I am always on the quest for understanding and knowledge gained through the process and investigation of making art.  At the root is the quest.  A quest to uncover, to illuminate, and to understand.  The studio space is merely a container for this very active process.

As I considered this definition over-lapping onto the spaces that have been my studio laboratories, I was surprised to find this old drawing of my original "studio" in the living room of our apartment during art school.

My first 'studio' during art school, circa 1997
My first 'studio' during art school, circa 1997

It looks surpisingly similar to my current studio living room space.  I love that in  this discovery, I know both spaces allow creative investigation.  I also feel as inspired now as I was then to learn to see, understand and relate to the world in an increasingly focused and deep way.  However, there is one distinct difference between when I started art school and now.  In 1997 I was interested in capturing what I saw in order to put it into a drawing or painting.  Now, I am interested in using  the process of art making to change how I see and relate to the world.  This difference is critical when looking at what an art studio means.  It seems the object of "the artist's studio" is often confused for the activity of artistic investigation, the heart of being an artist.  Studio is a process, a study, a practice, and a state of mind.

I will be continuing this investigation of what it means to have a studio and a studio practice.

I hope to see you at my guest studio space at 916 Woodford in Old Town for The Fort Collins Studio Tour on June 22nd and 23rd from 10am -5pm.

Current "living room" studio in our 9th floor apartment
Current "living room" studio in our 9th floor apartment