Art can't thrive in isolation -- it needs a community of artists and a community for expression.

A new artists' cooperative gallery in Cedaredge is providing both types of community connection for local artists who have a new venue for display and sale of their work.

Cedaredge's new artists' cooperative gallery, ImpressionZ, is attracting new talent and also ringing up sales, organizers say.

"We are making sales every month and we are operating in the black," co-op organizing director Gretchen Atkinson of Cedaredge told the DCI.

ImpressionZ is non-profit artists' cooperative managed by a board of directors. The gallery has received its official non-profit 501(c)(3) status from the IRS, organizers said.

The gallery's mission is to focus on local Delta County artists. But it could also expand to become a showcase for regional art, organizers say.

ImpressionZ has around 25 members who pay a monthly fee for the privilege of showing and selling their work there. A limited number of new participating artists are being sought to bring the total number up to around 30.

The artist members themselves staff the gallery which is located next door to Gazebo Florist on Cedaredge Main Street. The gallery is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

As a testimony to the success that ImpressionZ is enjoying, organizer and contributing co-op member Ginny Wise had about a dozen commission checks ready for distribution at a gathering of the artists last month whose pieces have sold. The occasion was a "meet and greet" for them to get to know one another -- a first of the kind since ImpressionZ opened in December.

Participating artists who introduced themselves and their art to the others at the April gathering were the following:

Ella Kelly, a newcomer to the area from the Front Range who is a metalsmith and gives classes at the Blacksmith Shop in Pioneer Town.

Pattie Timmerwilke, who displayed her hand-dyed fabric and the articles she fashions from them.

Janine Coughlin, who displays handmade cards and baby blankets. She also volunteers as the co-op's calendar coordinator.

Hazel Monzingo, who displays her realistic and emotionally evocative paintings on equestrian themes.

Cedaredge portrait artist Susan Jochum has joined the gallery to display her landscape and wildlife art.

Ginni McNair, a well-known artist who lives on Redlands Mesa is a master potter.

Maxine Healey, who has worked as a muralist and has a number of "floor cloths" rendered in acrylic in the gallery.

Amy Daniels, who works in pastels, has several pieces including seascape scenes at ImpressionZ gallery.

Karen Brueggemann of Cedaredge, who creates intricate designs in jewelry using polymer clay. She is also doing wall hangings in the medium.

John Schmidt of Cedaredge, who worked many years in construction to support his art talent and passion. He now has more time to devote to his acrylic paintings of the local area, many of which are on display.

Also exhibiting at ImpressionZ are Erin Williams of Redlands Mesa, who works in pastels and has her original note cards on display. Also, Tilt Brown and Cheri Nelson display their own designs of therapeutic magnetic jewelry including necklaces with matching earrings, bracelets, anklets, and necklaces. Visitors to the gallery and gift store will also find fused glass, fired ceramic sculpture by Judy Leonard, and hand-painted porcelain dolls by Karen Debnam. There were about a dozen of the co-op members at the meet-and-greet.

Visitors to ImpressionZ will find most of the familiar art types and styles, along with some others that are less traditional. There is much fine wall art including oils, acrylics, water colors, and works in the increasingly popular alcohol and ink medium. There is original greeting card art, jewelry, photography, fabric, sculpture, wood turning, crafts, and jewelry and wall hangings in polymer clay. There are even handcrafted soaps and lotions, magnetic jewelry, and locally confected cocoa mixes. In addition to being an art gallery, ImpressionZ is also a true gift store.

The gallery has a featured artist each month. The members and friends host a reception for the featured artist on the first Friday of each month from 4 to 7 p.m. The monthly receptions are open to the public.

This month's featured artist is photographer John Beckley of Cedaredge, whose fine images of wildlife and landscapes occupy the featured artist's wall at the gallery entryway.

Another recent featured artist of the month, Lindy Palmer of Eckert, told the DCI, "This gallery is an art source for Delta County now that the Creamery in Hotchkiss has closed. We hope it will grow and expand."

The artists in the cooperative also see formation of a "creative district" in their longer-term vision. Atkinson said that a creative district would enable the co-op to bring other art forms including music and theater into its portfolio of artistic endeavors.

During the artists' discussion at their gathering last month, a number of other organizational and business matters were aired. The group is looking for a grant writer, and locating grant funds for opening a cooperative artists' workshop facility is high on the list. The workshop would be a venue for conducting classes and demonstrations, and could also provide studio space for individual artists.

According to the artists themselves who were present at April's meet-and-greet, there were three key players in the co-op concept who helped to get it organized -- Gretchen Atkinson, Ginny Wise and Lindy Palmer.

Once the basic idea came to life, it was the artists themselves who got involved and really made the gallery the success it is now becoming, Wise explained. "We wanted to make it available to the artists, hoping they would step up, and they have."

The gallery hosts occasional workshops and seminars. At a recent one, Rae-Ann Simmons explained her high dynamic range photography. And on the day before Mother's Day, Janine Coughlin gave a well-timed, hands-on demonstration of "make and take" card techniques.

Visitors to ImpressionZ will never have the same experience twice. The artists' works are changed out regularly and there is always a different look or a new work to discover. The gallery also hosts special social events in conjunction with holiday occasions and is becoming a local center of the arts community.

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