ELEVATED | Iconic Peak and Alley Poetry
by Leslie Vreeland
Nov 14, 2013 | 1842 views | 0 0 comments | 88 88 recommendations | email to a friend | print
VIEW OF LONE CONE – A woodblock print of the iconic peak outside Norwood by artist Meredith Nemirov, whose exhibit, Twelve Views of Lone Cone, is up through the end of the month at Stronghouse Gallery. (Courtesy photo)
VIEW OF LONE CONE – A woodblock print of the iconic peak outside Norwood by artist Meredith Nemirov, whose exhibit, Twelve Views of Lone Cone, is up through the end of the month at Stronghouse Gallery. (Courtesy photo)

In Telluride: Twelve Views of Lone Cone

What do you see when you look at a mountain? Not just any mountain, but an iconic peak? When I look at Lone Cone, I see not only a forlorn pinnacle, but a former, favored habitat of grizzly bears in this state before the grizzlies’ extirpation – which makes it feel even lonelier. A geologist might see Lone Cone as a dormant volcano. Norwood residents see it as their local mountain; it frames their daily lives.

Artist Meredith Nemirov saw it as an opportunity. The result is a dozen woodblock prints – some in color, some black-and-white – entitled Twelve Views of Lone Cone, on exhibit until the end of the month at the Stronghouse Studios & Gallery. 

“I think that Lone Cone offers a great, stunning, visual presence in the sense that it stands alone and becomes that iconic mountain,” Nemirov said. “There are other peaks that stand out [around here], like Sneffels or Wilson, but to see the entire mountain rising from the horizontal of the ground is something else.” Her prints, solemn and reverent, seem to capture the mood of the mountain perfectly, particularly when you see it from a distance (although Lone Cone is a very quiet mountain to hike on, too). “Lone Cone is geographically similar to Mount Fuji,” Nemirov said. “I’d been looking at Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji for many years, and decided to use that as the basis for my project.” Nemirov’s “project” sprang out of a workshop she took at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center entitled Japanese Woodblock Printmaking and the Western Landscape. She’d received an Artists Fellowship to cover the cost from Telluride Arts, on the condition that she propose something that would relate in some way to San Miguel County. Lone Cone seemed a perfect fit. Nemirov continued her work later, in Spain, from photos and drawings. And that is when imagination really took over. “The longer I was away from Colorado, the more free I became to make up compositions and rely more on memory, which is something I don’t normally do as a perceptual or observational artist,” she said. “But, being away, I couldn’t just get in the car and take another look.” See her works at the gallery, or online at twelveviewsoflonecone.blogspot.com. There is Lone Cone a dozen ways – up close or looming in the background, framing a field of deer or blanketed in snow, barely visible through the branches of a tree. Terribly familiar, yet always apart. Warm, yet austere. Forever a mystery. Nemirov’s show at Stronghouse is up through the end of the month. After that, her work will be available online at a Norwood website: created-in-colorado.com.

Alley Art in Ridgway

For the last year, I’ve been transfixed by a poem about a hawk two doors down from The Watch’s Ridgway office. It’s not just about a hawk, but a hawk smashed into a window. The poem is at the entrance to an alley, tacked casually on the side of a building. You’d never know it was there unless you happened upon it, and indeed, for months I sailed by and never noticed it. Then one day I saw it and stopped to read it. I still stop to read it. 




When a hawk strikes

a kitchen window

at first light, 

that splayed mass

of disheveled wings

fills the frame

like a trailer

for a horror film

about mutant moths

or vampire lovers.

A thermal riding

raptor, a master

of precision,

just lost it

like hapless robins

and other victims

of crazed migration.

So it goes

for the Alpha wolf,


and great white shark.

Overindulge in circling,

you overshoot

the mark. 


– Kate Kellogg, 2011

Who is this poet? I’ve wondered, but to be honest, I don’t even care. I’m just glad the poem is there. Which is probably exactly the way Michael McCullough, founder of Poetry in the Alleys, would like me to think about it. 

McCullough is not a poet himself. He’s a sculptor best known for his monumental bronzes, such as the one of the late free-rider Hoot Brown, on permanent display at the Telluride Ski Resort. McCullough has had other careers besides being an artist, however. “I was the garbage man in Ouray County” a few decades back, he said. “I fell in love with the alleys.” “We have good poets” in Ridgway, he added. And mounting poems on wood blocks in alleys “was a great way to turn poems into sculpture. Social sculpture. You wind up talking to your neighbors, or maybe not talking to them, until after they’ve seen the poem” you placed on the back of their fence “and decided it’s OK.” When McCullough first started placing poems around town, it was dubbed “rogue poetry,” he said with a sly grin. “From someone you disapprove of, but can’t help liking anyway.” 

Today, of course, poetry in the alleys is a Ridgway Creative District hallmark, along with art in the alleys. This Sunday, from 2-5 p.m., the monthly Ridgway Moon Walk will offer an excursion called The Outdoors as Studio, replete with “maps and clues” for self-guided tours to see the numerous poems, artworks and public sculptures around town. Alley Poems is currently being expanded and overseen (“edited,” as McCullough puts it), by local poet Kierstin Bridger. “The alleys are now a place of culture,” McCullough said with satisfaction. “The unsavory, stinky, smelly, littered places have become spots for contemplation.” And, for the uninitiated, a chance to encounter a new art form: “It increases your chances of being exposed to poetry. Pick up a book? Not very likely.” Maps and clues to this Sunday’s Ridgway Moonwalk will be available at McCullough’s working studio in the Old Firehouse (Firehouse Sculpture,) and at Resource Art. 

Harvest Dinner in Ouray

Make room on your calendar for a pre-holiday, five-course Harvest Dinner next Thursday, Nov. 21 from 6-9 p.m. at Cavallo’s Restaurant in Ouray. Hosts and guest chefs for the evening include Sid Cavallo, Khristopher Dunham of Khristopher’s Culinaire and Roy Perkins of the Cimarron Café. The farm-to-table meal highlights locale products from Circle A Gardens, Buckhorn Gardens, Ferguson Family Ranches, Happy Hogs Farm, Hawk N’ Yak Ranch, Garrett Estate Cellars and others – all located 60 miles or fewer from Ouray. Cost is $65 per person, which includes all food and beverages, as well as “culinary surprises.” Reservations are required; there’s a vegetarian option. You might get to sit next to one of the farmers or ranchers who helped supply this bounty. Purchase tickets at Cavallo’s, Khristopher’s Culinaire, the Ouray Visitor Center or online at ouraycolorado.com.

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