The Creamery Arts Center hosts Farm to Table event | TheFencePost.com

The Creamery Arts Center hosts Farm to Table event

Carolyn White

Paintings, sculptures, ceramics and pottery depict crops, farm animals and Colorado scenery. Everything from mules to pigs to abandoned barns is represented, and most of the items are for sale.

The Creamery was built in 1939 by the Dairyman's Association, and it was home to Challenge Butter until the late 1960's. That company sold out to a Hari Krishna group, which remodeled the kitchen and used it for chocolate making.

After that venture failed, the Creamery sat empty for nearly 30 years and fell into disrepair. Windows were broken out, a fire swept through and then the roof caved in. It might have been razed if not for the help of sisters Linda and Joanne Tullis, who saw potential even though the place "was pretty ugly."

Originally from Grand Junction, the two had always loved Hotchkiss. Linda moved there in 1990, and together with Joanne managed to raise the money needed for a massive Creamery restoration project. Over the course of a year, the building gained a second story, an extra-wide staircase, an elevator and curved support arches, which Linda helped design.

Construction workers discovered six inches of cork in the old walls.

"That was what they used for insulation in the 1930's," Linda said. "It's stuff like that which makes old buildings so special."

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Two colorful and whimsical bathrooms, crafted by ceramic artist Pete Halliday and late tile expert Judy Barratt-Gross, were installed as well. They consist of vivid hues, copper, marble and coincidentally for the September show, old tractor parts.

"Judy was from Boulder. She stayed with me for a week while doing the work, and we got to be good friends," said Linda, who is on the Board of Directors. The Creamery is a non-profit organization.

Gallery manager Gayle Smith wants to see the second floor filled with pottery from local potters. Many moved their wares during a brief period when the building was closed for restructuring, but are starting to return.

The main gallery has become a versatile entertainment venue thanks to local realtor Bob Pennetta, who, along with his friends, built a stage in one corner.

Pennetta got involved because he believed The Creamery would be a great place to hold concerts. Not only are the acoustics good, but with an open-floor plan, there's plenty of room for dancing. A viewing area with tables and chairs has also been added.

Beginning Sept. 22, an open mic night will be held every Tuesday from 6-10 p.m. Local wines are served at evening events, but during normal business hours, the new snack bar sells coffee, tea, cold drinks, ice cream and desserts. The next concert is scheduled for Oct. 29 and will feature a Reggae band.

Artists are invited to display their creations at the Creamery depending on the scheduled media. Each month will focus on a different theme; for example, October will showcase glass, November will feature metal and December is for holiday items.

January 2017 will center around paper, including origami, papier Mache and book making. In addition, local authors will hold writing workshops, signings and book readings.

"Although art and education remain the Creamery's main focus, our goal is to expand our programs to include fun competitions, farm and winery tours and family activities throughout the valley," Linda said. "Eventually, we'll be available for conferences and conventions as well."

In the meantime, if you love farming, ranching and animals and you're interested in agricultural art and decor, now's the time to visit the Creamery Arts Center. ❖

More info

The Creamery Arts center is located at 165 West Bridge Street in Hotchkiss, Colorado. It is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call (970) 872-4848 or visit their website at http://www.creameryartscenter.org

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