A downtown Basalt fixture has taken a giant leap forward to finally find its forever home with the $1.5 purchase of the entire building at 174 Midland Ave.
Skye Skinner — appointed Art Base executive director appointed in 2020 after two years in the interim position — announced the upcoming move to the 4880 sq.ft. Three Bears building from its 1800 sq.ft space in the old Basalt library.
“This opportunity simply fell out of the sky,” she enthused. “We just couldn’t pass up the chance to establish ourselves here permanently.”
Skinner described the advantages of this opportunity as the building is fairly new, but maintains the exterior historic nature in sync with other nearby structures. Plus, she said, the building interior has no weight bearing walls, so the remodeling can be accomplished on a totally open canvas and is basically move-in ready.
“It will be a while, though,” Skinner noted.
Skinner envisioned a ground floor gallery that directly faces the street and encourages passersby to stop and take a gander at the variety of creativity on display. Works of visual art support student, emerging and established Colorado-based artists. Solo exhibitions focus on artists living in the valley.
On the second and top floor, workshops and classrooms will be located as an educational magnet for adults and kids. Accessible now only by two staircases, it will be modified to include an elevator to enable people with disabilities to easily participate.
The building also boasts a rooftop deck, which Skinner noted, has a lot of possibilities. She emphasized how important community support has been.
“We were able to raise over $700,000,” she smiled. “And we’ll soon be kicking off a capital campaign to pay off the remaining mortgage and bolster long term funding in the form of endowments.”
One of its main goals, according to the website, is to establish the historic downtown Basalt as an art and intellectual center. An economic benefit could be “a combination of arts organizations, cultural events and creative businesses has been shown to dramatically increase financial vibrancy.”
What is now called the Art Base had its beginnings as the Wyley Art Center in Woody Creek in 1996. The center moved to Basalt in 2005, and changed its name to the Art Base in 2015.
Skinner comes to the organization after 22 years at the Compass, the nonprofit that operates the Aspen and Carbondale Community Schools.
John Black, president of the Art Base Board of Trustees, said “She is well respected in the Roaring Fork Valley for her work in the nonprofit sector, and we are fortunate to have her join us during this exciting chapter.”
With a hefty schedule of week-long and weekend classes, the Art Base offers year-round courses in painting, drawing, sculpture, mixed media and journaling with images. Also, among its programs are middle school art, after school art, ARTMentors for teenagers and adult workshops like the Creativity Club.
The nonprofit also sponsors Art Talks limited to members which have featured artists discussing their creative processes, printmaking demonstrations and art in education. All are appropriate for the entire family.
Through the holiday season, free “make your own ornaments” kits are available outside the front door. Future programs Skinner hopes to develop include English newcomer public arts, artist residencies and to design and open a digital suite with youth and adult classes.
To reach out to people throughout the valley, the Art Base offers scholarships. Go to the artbase.org for more information.