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Plein Air Painting at 10,000 ft: Victor Celebrates the Arts, 2022

Updated: Sep 6, 2022

Victor, CO 10,000 ft above sea level.

Street art in Victor.

I grew up on the prairies of Nebraska. Though I have lived in many parts of North America (U.S., Canada, and Mexico) as well as a number of years in Europe (France), I always remember the Rocky Mountains. My family used to drive from Omaha across Nebraska and eastern Colorado to Denver for vacations, and the moment divine that I remember was my first sighting of the mountains. I used to carefully time taking a nap so that I would wake up and see the mountains in the distance. With that background, it is needless to say that the thought of driving up another 4,000 feet and seeing the work of some of our local artists was a perfect way to spend part of my Sunday. Off I went to Victor to see the display of art work done during the week-long event called Victor Celebrates the Arts.

Gold Camp Bakery on Third Street.

Right away, and right there on 112 S. 3rd St., I found the Gold Camp Bakery, which has lovely outdoor seating, good coffee latte, and fabulous (huge) cinnamon buns with raisins, which they warm up for you. Just what I needed after the drive (1.5 hours) through the hills on winding roads but with beautiful scenery. This was the perfect way to get my bearings and start my art tour.

A main street in Victor, CO. Could the sky be any more turquoise?

Of course, strolling through the main streets allows for appreciation of the great old 19th century architecture. Any of these fine old buildings would be a worthy subject, and the artists who participate in the plein air painting have a wonderful time capturing the essence of these historic structures. However, there are other ways to approach this.

For instance, on Sunday morning there was an event called Brush Rush, where the artists had 3 hours to do a painting of the City Hall. What a nice surprise for the casual visitor, like me, to wander up a street and find a whole group of people painting! And best of all, I heard someone call my name. It was Mary Sexton! She was working away with her pastels on a piece that incorporated the wonderful vegetation on the hills behind the old building. We talked for a bit, but as this was a timed event, I wandered on to let her brush continue to rush while I went to see a few others. These participants were not known to me, but you get the idea and the sense that they were all very intent upon finishing by the deadline. Take a look at these action photos.

While the Brush Rush was exhilarating, more wandering about brought me to the Elks' Hall where the works that had been done during the week were on view, and where Colorado Springs is nicely represented.

A nocturne by Chris Alvarez

Chris Alvarez worked his midnight magic on this street of vehicles under a sliver of moonlight. His painting from last year was the image on the poster for this year's event. His wonderful style captures what at first might seem ordinary, but which comes across with subtle beauty in his paintings.

George's Truck by Lee Murphy

Alvarez is not the only one who immortalizes vehicles. Lee Murphy presented a wonderful piece called George's Truck, which is so "Victor" in so many ways, as there are lots of old buildings, leftover mining structures, and old vehicles about.

Ed McKay's, The Pot Ran Out, is a perfectly poetic climax to what happened to the 1890's gold rush that made Victor a town. The old mining site sits on a slight rise in the land, which probably represents well the hopes of those gold miners. However, the rusty worn out look of that building indicates that those dreams vanished quite a while ago or as the artist's title says, "The Pot Ran Out," symbolized by the rainbow's end which doesn't quite reach the ground.

Yes, the pot ran out, but what we have today is a wonderful historic site and great events like Victor Celebrates the Arts, which ends Labor Day, with a Quick Draw session. For Quick Draw, props and models of various kinds are positioned about town, and visitors can watch the artists and participate in the judging. It should be a wonderful finale to a great week.

Before I leave you, I just have to present a few snaps of things, relics from a time gone by, that are so very Victor. These from the Elk's Hall.

The Powder Room complete with an ironing board in case one needs to touch up one's gown.

The bar and a piano.

Beautiful unstained cut glass window in a door.

Victor is about 5 miles from Cripple Creek, just take Hwy 24 to Divide, 67 toward Cripple Creek and 81 to Victor. Victor Celebrates the Arts is a yearly event.

For more on the artists mentioned here, just scroll through the posts here in The Art Blog for an article on the artist.

For more on me and my art and travel inspired writing, see my author page at

Should you be interested in articles on art history combined with a discussion of wines, go to my other art blog, ©

Marjorie Vernelle 2022

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