The Surface Creek Valley's art community provides an indispensable texture and feeling to the experience of living in a pleasant enclave of Colorado' s Western Slope.
A reception held July 11 featuring a full-gallery, two-month-long art show at the AppleShed brought into focus the kinds of contributions the arts community makes to valley life.
The reception was for a show by The Eighth Tribe.
The Eighth Tribe is a name taken by a group of eight artists and their "instructor," visual artist Barbara Torke of Cedar Mesa. The group has also been known as "Barbara and her People," Torke explains.
The origin of the name for The Eighth Tribe is steeped in lore, but it can be thought of as having derived from the number of artists involved with the group at a point in time near its beginnings, Torke explained.
Over the years since 1997, Torke told the DCI, the group has become like a mini arts society whose members have together explored art, learning, ideas, experiences, talents and inspirations. From time to time, she added, they have also shared in the many joys and some of the disappointments that come from living life to the full.
Members of the Eighth Tribe have really come together as a sort of family "over the last five to ten years," Barb said. They have taken art classes together with Torke, and they have enjoyed art experiences together. They have engaged in plein-air art sessions on camping trips. They have gone to New Mexico for a session of the pastel society there. They have traveled to Denver for art exhibits. Not all the group's participants have made all the trips, but their artistic adventures have become a part of their work and they have woven the group together with the bond of common experience.
The Eighth Tribe's membership has not been constant over the whole time since 1997 when Torke and colleague, Barbara Allen, began working together. "Barbara Allen has been here the whole time. She has been a student (and friend) the last sixteen years," Torke said.
The artists who consider themselves part of The Eighth Tribe have sometimes come and gone and come again over the years. Mary Ellen Miller, an original "member" of the association, as Torke explains it, left for a time to live in Florida and is now returned. Miller was Barbara Torke's partner at Cedars Edge Gallery until she left for Florida seven years ago. She has returned to Cedaredge this year, Torke explained.
Others participate in the group's art lessons and gatherings as time and other life responsibilities permit.
Torke is a featured artist at the AppleShed. Her extensive work is known for themes she has pursued including the "happy dog" pieces, her "fairies in nature" work, and her colorized renderings of vintage family photographs. Pastels have been a familiar medium for her, and she has more recently expanded her talents to include works in landscape and nature scenes in oils, pastels, and mixed media.
In addition to Torke's and Allen's work, The Eighth Tribe show that is running through the end of August includes original work by Amy Daniels, Barb Silverman, Carol Ann Rasmussen, Laurae Fortner-Welch, Lindy Palmer, Mary Ellen Miller and Pat de l' Etoile.
The works on display by these artists show a variety of subject matter with many good examples of natural settings. Media used in the works include pastel, oils, alcohol in ink, watercolor, acrylic and multi media.