Gallery Also Offers Low-Cost Studio Space to Artists
“My focus is to create a safe place to bring artists together, a place where people can see great work, try classes, be social and have fun,” says Von Fumetti. Since the Colori Gallery & Studios opened in December 2015, artists and locals have been doing just that.
Colori occupies a ground-level space along Midland Avenue, Basalt’s historic main street. It’s a warm, sunlit gallery, trimmed in rustic wood and adorned with visual delights: Fused glass sparkles in the window. Intricate fish made of wire swim overhead. The laughing faces of three donkeys peer out from a watercolor. Vibrant oil paintings spill out into the hallway. Felted hats and hand-woven shawls invite the visitor to try on a more creative persona.
Watercolorist and collage artist Missy Hagen says that walking into the gallery “makes you feel so good. The variety is amazing. There are beautiful, hand-made flutes, jewelry, artisan fashions, and paintings of different genres.”
The gallery’s logo is a brightly-colored rabbit, and Fumetti tells an engaging anecdote about it. She says that “Harvey”, who is named in reference to a 1950 James Stewart movie about a man whose best friend is a six-foot-tall tall invisible rabbit, serves as a kind of totem animal for her.
Fumetti’s background spanned retail, teaching, and communications. She grew up in Iowa and met her husband in Denver, moving to the Roaring Fork Valley after he was hired to work for the City of Aspen. Initially, she had no plans to open an art gallery.
Von started painting fairly late in life, picking up a brush for therapeutic reasons. After suffering two concussions, Von endured a daunting five-month recovery period. There were times when she couldn’t safely be left alone. During that struggle, a physician suggested that painting might help.
“When I painted that rabbit, it was the first time I really felt like an artist,” Von recalls. She felt confident enough to approach a consignment gallery near Vail to ask about showing the work. The gallery owner looked approvingly and told Von, “It’s really nice, but we probably can’t get as much for it as you want.” Hesitant, Von asked how much the woman thought the painting was worth. The gallery owner named a figure several times more than Von had dared to imagine!
“Art has always been a part of my life, but I didn’t consider myself an artist. That gave me confidence.” Von reflects a moment, then adds, “Every artist suffers from a lack of confidence. I love encouraging them. I know how it is. As an artist, everyone tells you how great your work is, and you don’t believe any one of them!”
Fumetti was still healing when Shea Singer, wife of the Midland Mall owner James Bond, called to ask her to consider opening a gallery. Still shaken by the head injury that had upended her life, Fumetti wasn’t sure she was ready to run a business. But she decided to listen anyway.
“I came and saw the space,” she says. “Then I came up with a game plan.”
The plan involved making the gallery a collaborative.
While Colori represents the work of artists hailing from up and down the valley, it also offers reasonably-priced studio space. Von Fumetti, Jessica McMahon, Laurie Martinez, Pola Oginski, Heidi Alles, and Derek Skalko are current resident artists. They pitch in to staff the gallery, volunteering several days a week. “If there’s a day when I’m struggling, I just ask for help,” says Von.
The same supportive spirit pervades Colori’s classes and events.
Missy Hagen attended a class at Colori a few months back. “Acrylics aren’t my usual medium,” she says. “But it was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.” Colori not only supplied paint, canvas, and tools, the gallery also included hors d’oeuvres and beverages. “Von was a great instructor. And after we finished, everyone commented on everyone else’s work,” Hagen recalls.
Was that scary?
“Not for me. I survived art school! But it was comfortable, even for students who had no painting experience. Von really wants to support artists. Colori isn’t just about displaying art, but about getting artists to be part of the community.”
Basalt Mayor Jacque Carpenter Whitsitt called the gallery “a glorious gift to local artists and art enthusiasts.” Robin Waters, president of the Basalt Chamber of Commerce says, “Colori offers a potpourri of artists’ styles and talents. There’s so much quality, variety, and allure, it’s a lovely adventure to visit. I find it hard to leave.”