Art with a 'Western Soul': High Country ARTisans Co-Op

The High Country ARTisans co-op features members like stained-glass artist Gail Shears in its new gallery in Silverthorne.

By Lindsay Tallman

The minute Gail Shears crossed the Colorado state line to attend the University of Denver, she knew she was “a western soul.” But after moving east to start her teaching career, it would take many years for Shears to find her way back. When she did return after retiring, she expressed her newfound joy in her environment through colorful stained-glass art, which depicts everything from snowflakes to wolves and moose.

Exit_205_HCA_09-compressorShears is one of many talented artists on display at the High Country ARTisans co-op gallery at the Outlets at Silverthorne.

Shears says she tried many hobbies before falling in love with glass. “I tried decoupage. That was terrible. I tried decorating cakes. Well, it was not only awful, but then you ate your art,” she says. “This lasts a lot longer for the time and effort you put into it. And people are really enchanted by the imagery that you can create with stained glass.”

Shears discovered her love of glass art in her 20s after a studio opened in her town, and she has now been creating stained-glass art for more than 40 years. She says she loves the challenge of creating an image with a minimal number of lines, a process with often inspiring results.

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She joined the High Country ARTisans co-op after a fellow ambassador at Copper Mountain Resort discovered her art and convinced her to get involved. The co-op, which opened its Silverthorne gallery in 2017, features photography, fiber art, mosaics, metal, pottery, jewelry, wood scroll saw art, stained glass, and acrylic and watercolor paintings.

Shears says she is proud that the gallery functions like a family and the co-op is made up of local artists. “It was a grassroots effort,” she says. “It started with a few people, and we’ve grown and brought in additional artists.” They’ve also recently begun offering wall space to Summit High School art students to display their work.

Shears says it’s a privilege to be part of the High Country ARTisans. “The artists are just amazing and they all contribute something different,” she says. “We’ve learned from each other. We’ve grown together.”

Visit Shears and other local artists at the High Country ARTisans gallery at 135F Stephens Way in the Outlets at Silverthorne, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m daily. Learn more at facebook.com/HighCountryARTisans.