Tucked away in the Rocky Mountains, about 20 minutes from Aspen, sits a thriving, 50-year-old arts community. Anderson Ranch Arts Center was established in 1966 by the ceramist Paul Soldner, who sought to create an alternative to art school. With fellow artists Cherie Hiser,
, among others, Soldner created a place for artists to learn and refine their skills, to develop new work, and to relish the company of other creatives—a model that has flourished and evolved over the years as the community adapts to the demands of an ever-changing art world.
Today, the Colorado ranch offers more than 140 summer art workshops while also engaging its local community with year-round programming and outreach. The center also hosts world-renowned visiting artists, including the
, who recently worked there on a new ceramic series, and
, who gave artist talks. Yet the most inspiring aspect of Anderson Ranch might be its residency program: two 10-week terms during which 14 artists live and work at the ranch, with an opportunity to freely develop their work, take advantage of abundant resources, and become part of a close-knit arts community.
Executive director Nancy Wilhelms believes this sense of community is a major draw for artists applying to the residency. “You might find that there are residencies out there where the artist shows up and they bring all of their own materials, they walk into an empty studio, and then exist in their own little mole hole. We’re not like that,” Wilhelms says. Like an all-inclusive resort or a summer camp, the residency program provides artists with everything they need, from supplies to a supportive staff of working artists and a diverse group of peers, who can be depended upon for new perspectives, feedback, and guidance.
From the hundreds of applications they receive for each term, a diverse jury of artists and critics decides on the 14 artists admitted to each of the program’s two terms, one starting in February, the other in October. The program is geared toward artists early in their careers as well as those who are decades into pursuing art professionally. “An established artist might come here to learn something new or to have a space in which they can experiment and fail, learn new techniques, or complete a project,” Wilhelms says. At the same time, emerging artists have just as much to gain. “We’re looking for emerging artists who are going somewhere in their career, people who can come here and truly benefit from working in our studios, with our studio team, and in the community experience.”
Throughout the ranch, an open-door policy ensures constant dialogue and idea sharing. “This is not a residency for the private painter who’s the genius in their studio with the door locked. We keep our doors open, and the community comes through. Residents interact constantly—it’s a very public residency,” says Liz Ferrill, the artistic director of painting, drawing, and printmaking, and chair of the visiting artists program.