Sunday, October 18, 2009
KC Willis - Longmont, Colorado
Longmont is one of those great little cities with a decidedly small town flavor. Folks are friendly and it's not one of those places where people walk down the sidewalk elbow-to-elbow among strangers who never dare make eye contact with anyone.
Tucked away in the midst of the historic district of town and just off the busy Main Street is a little rose and pink Victorian house which is now the studio home of artist KC Willis, her dog, Fiona, and The Lipstick Ranch Gallery. The minute one walks through the front door and into the sun parlor there is a feeling of being surrounded by something very special. It is as though the house wraps its arms around visitors, making them feel warm and welcome.
KC's walls are filled with her own wonderful creations as well as the works of several other artists. Her Western women fabric collages are especially beautiful and intriguing with quotes written in the artist's hand that spring as much from her own life experience as from her closeness to the subjects of her art. To be sure, there are cowboys, Indian chiefs, outlaws, feminist icons, angels and fallen angels among the artwork displayed, but it is the Western women who steal the show away from them all.
The photos are, in their own right, very powerful and alluring images as one can imagine the amount of talent and gumption a woman had to have in order to succeed (and even survive) in what was definitely a tough man's world. It is, however, the heart and soul Willis provides to these women through her use of fabric and her insightful quotes that gives the art its life. It's not difficult to look at these women and believe that they are actually speaking the words she assigned to them on the canvas.
Earlier this month Lipstick Ranch became much more than a studio and gallery. It was transformed into a magical place where artists could gather to learn, share, and laugh. The first KC Willis studio retreat workshop came together and just clicked under her capable guidance. Her abilities as a story-teller kept her students engaged, inspired and laughing. The only drawback was that it was eventually time for the participants to pack up and go home again when the weekend ended.
Lipstick Ranch has a robust schedule of workshops for 2010 that includes workshops led by KC Willis herself as well as by other talented and acclaimed visiting artists including JoAnna Pierotti, Lesley Venable, Rebecca Crowell and Sarah Fishburn.
If you're looking for a great workshop at KC's yet this year, Sarah Fishburn's Ragtags Studio Central: Artist Books and the Elements of Design will be held in KC'S studio December 5th and 6th, 2009. For more information, check out the visiting artist's page
WIP and completed works from the first studio retreat workshop:
For more workshop pictures: