With a New Director and an Expanded Vision, Telluride’s Community Art School Is Poised for Great Things
by Jessica Newens
Dec 26, 2011 | 1238 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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THE AH HAA SCHOOL – Offers classes in everything from oil painting to pottery to pastels. (Courtesy photos)
It’s Jodi Pound’s first full week on the job, working independently as the new executive director of Telluride’s Ah Haa School for the Arts.

“This is kind of my week,” she says, noting her three-week training session with outgoing director Rachel Loomis Lee ended last week. “It was the most wonderful thing to have Rachel here to bring me along,” says Pound. “I don’t know how I would have understood all the moving parts” otherwise.

With a background in philosophy and bioethics, Pounds comes on board at a vital point in the Ah Haa School’s 21-year history as Telluride’s beloved community art school. Since the acquisition of the town’s historic depot building in 2007 (and a long term financial obligation to go with it), the school has not only been redefining and refining itself, but it’s also in the midst of a substantial capital campaign.

“The board [of directors] has set a high bar for me, which I think is really good,” says Pounds. “There’s an immense opportunity to take this fundamental piece of the Telluride community and grow it and grow it.”

To that end, one of Pounds’ first goals for 2012 is to embark on an accredited art program that would bring students to Telluride for a semester of, say, painting, jewelry or film. Ah Haa’s model for this program is their already successful American Academy of Bookbinding, an internationally known, degree-oriented bookbinding and book conservation school that graduates professional-level binders and book conservators.

“AAB is our model, that’s what we want to replicate” by offering more rigorous fine arts classes to students outside of the Telluride region, says Pounds. So far “we are mostly serving locals, which is good… The next step is to reach out [and bring people into this] “beautiful community that is so bright and so dynamic… Who wouldn’t want to come to Telluride and express themselves creatively? The challenge is how to make that go on the ground. Ah Haa needs someone to be a leader and make that happen. That’s where I come in.”

Pounds is already poised to introduce a strategic plan, business plan, vision and implementation components in the first quarter of 2012. Among her goals are several projects, some as simple as establishing better exterior lighting on the building to give it more visibility, and as broad as building partnerships with other nonprofits to create more opportunities for the public to take part in Ah Haa’s programs. For example, Pounds foresees establishing a relationship with the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program, wherein Ah Haa would open its doors to provide art classes to disabled athletes and their families at a discounted rate. “We want to become a venue for understanding in both directions for people of all abilities to be striving,” Pounds says. For TASP’s Women’s Wounded Warrior retreat (directed at wounded women veterans), the school plans to open its space for yoga and movement classes, as well as art.

“We do have something special to offer here,” she says.

Already in the works for this winter are several noteworthy classes by visiting artists. Longtime Ah Haa jewelry instructor Harold O’Connor will teach a class in Oriental Metal Techniques, Feb. 25-26, where students will create a speculum, or pendant, by combining scrap silver and copper into alloys of Shibuichi and Shakudo. In Barbara Gilhooly’s Art & Soul Women’s Retreat, Feb. 23-25, participants can put aside kids, careers and to-do lists and reconnect to their true selves with mornings of yoga and meditation followed by creative projects. Through visual journaling, students will capture thoughts, feelings and the world through drawing, writing, painting, ink, collage, and pictures. Then, taking inspiration from different cultures’ altars, shrines and spiritual traditions, as well as contemporary artists, students will create cigar box shrines as a way of tapping into deeper beliefs and dreams.

Painter Robert Lemler returns to the Ah Haa School March 8-11 for Light & the Figurative Subject, focusing on light and its characteristics of direction, strength and color. Working from a model, students will examine the character of natural and artificial light sources while painting portraits of both nude and clothed models.

For photographers, there’s Memphis Barbree’s Exploring the Mystery, Spirit & Form Through Photography, March 14-16, where students can dive a little deeper into creating subject matter behind the lens. By studying the science and technique of image making, they will go beyond the dimension of the seen to make inspired images with depth and feeling.

Aside from visiting artist offerings and its traditional painting, ceramics, fabric arts, paper arts, and photography classes, other highlights of this winter’s class schedule include Nordic Photography Adventures, Nuno Felting Scarves, The Art of Burlesque, Forging 101: Fireplace Tools, Hidden Chamber Box Making, Animal Skull Abstracts, and Sculpture Welding.

And there’s plenty to keep kids busy this winter, from Artrageous After School Days and No School Art Days (Big Painting!, Bubble Wrap Animals, Awesome Origami, Tile Painting, Stenciled T-shirt and Bags) to Winter and Spring Break Art Camps.

“I feel like what I’m trying to support in the Ah Haa is that sense of being creative in your life and being creative in yourself,” says Pounds. “Even when the path’s not clear, you have the community support and the internal resources” to guide you on that path.

For more information and a complete course schedule contact the Ah Haa School at 970/728-3886 or visit their website, ahhaa.org.
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