SALIDA: The Biggest Little Art Town in Colorado

Many visitors who stroll through Salida’s historic downtown with its beautifully restored brick buildings, diverse culinary venues, and art galleries that range from funky to refined are surprised when they learn that this business district was almost abandoned in favor of chain stores and strip malls. Back in the 1980s, serious consideration was given to making way for “progress” by razing some of the downtown’s historic brick buildings, and in their place, constructing more modern facilities. Fortunately, the trend toward strip mall development was circumvented and an emphasis on historic preservation took root. Because of these efforts, the modern-day mountain community of Salida boasts a downtown area that is the largest historic downtown district in the state of Colorado.

In the process of attaining this distinction, Salida has become home to a large and still growing artist community. And, it is a community whose profile extends beyond the confines of the region, with many of Salida’s artists having national recognition in their respective fields.

It is not only these artists and their galleries that make this town an end destination for those seeking some “culture” in the Rocky Mountains, but it is also the thriving performing arts that give the town a reputation as one of the best art towns in the USA. Salida's painters, potters, jewelers, and sculptors coupled with its Stream Plant Theater, Salida Aspen Series Concerts, Alpine Orchestra, and summer festivals makes this town on the Arkansas River a diverse and thriving art community. With so much creative energy and an inspirational setting in the Rocky Mountains, art will no doubt continue to thrive and help to further define—and refine—the mountain town of Salida.


Jimmy Sellars

Jimmy Sellars has been exhibiting his work since 1978. He is a professional artist, designer, gallery director, and consultant for individual artists, art centers, creative professionals and museums. He has worked with the Denver Art Museum's Alliance for Contemporary Art and DAM Contemporaries, The Museum of Outdoor Arts, and a variety of galleries and corporations around the U.S. and Western Europe. His work has been exhibited in over 70 countries on traveling and invitational exhibitions and has been included in a variety of corporate and private collections around the world. He has been featured in several national and international publications including GEEK Magazine and ArtByte Magazine in the U.S., the Het Parool in the Netherlands, the Deccan Chronicle in Hyderabad, India, O Globo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the St. Petersburg Times in St. Petersburg, Russia, and The North Shore Times in Sydney, Australia. As of 2011 Sellars has curated over 300 exhibitions internationally including My Gay Valentine in 2006 which received national coverage on NPR (National Public Radio), Changes an exhibition of photography which received Best Photographic Exhibition, and Unstitched, an exhibition of his own work which received Best Political Show of 2005. In 2007 Sellars received the Village Voice's publication Westword Magazine's 3rd MasterMind Award in the Visual Arts in the state of Colorado which carried with it a monetary award of $4000. As an active part of the art community Sellars was chosen by the Denver Public Library to participate as a panelist on the State of Art in their EatArt Conference, worked as a gallerist and artist with DADA (Denver Art Dealers Association) on a variety of projects in the community, volunteered for the Denver Art Museum's AFCA and DAM Contemporaries and was chosen as one of their featured artists in 2007 during their Summer Salon Series. From 1998-2004 he was asked to be a Juror and member of the Board of Directors for the International Digital Art Awards headquartered in Sydney, Australia. In 1993 he opened Sellars Project Space in Denver, Colorado and subsequently in 20010 another location of the award winning space was opened in Santa Fe, New Mexico's Railyard District. In 2014 Sellars moved Sellars Project Space to a sole location in Colorado's largest Historic and Creative District in Salida, Colorado. Sellars also founded several art organizations including The Foundry Arts (1993-1997), The Center for Creative Exploration (1994-1998), Studio 211 (physical location and online 1992-2001) and the ARTBOX Program (2004-present) where donated art materials are gathered into backpacks and donated to police stations, shelters, or in person to children in need. Sellars' work focusses on creating intimate and emotional spaces between inanimate objects that hold already established stereotypes or perceptions. He is currently furthering his work of creating art digitally by using the iPad and other digital input devices and creating more affordable methods of output in order to make art more affordable for the public. He works with the organization Think 360 Arts where he teaches technology based art forms to children in both pubic and private schools.