Bristlecone works to inspire youth to create art throughout the Roaring Fork Valley

Bristlecone Arts Collaborative Director Lindsay Latva shows children how to mix colors at the Color Research Workshop at the Carbondale Branch Library on Friday afternoon.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

For Lindsay Latva, the name is a tribute to simple resilience, giving birth to unimaginable beauty.

“Bristlecones are strong, beautiful and durable trees native to Colorado that can withstand harsh climates and environments for hundreds of years,” said Latva, founder of Bristlecone Art Collaborative. “A beautiful metaphor for art and art education, existing for thousands of years and surviving, and often thriving, even in the most difficult conditions.”

Bristlecone Art Collaborative is a non-profit organization created by Latva, and with it she wants to build a stronger art community and offer support to art teachers throughout Garfield County.

“I was an art teacher for 12 years and I saw some holes that I felt were not filled and that I wish I had support for when I was a teacher,” she said. “I started really thinking about it while I was in the classroom and decided to step back from teaching to try to fill those holes for other teachers.”

Paul Howland, 3, mixes colors at the Bristlecone Arts Collaborative’s color exploration workshop at the Carbondale branch library on Friday afternoon.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Bristlecone’s president, Kyle Jones, was a music teacher who worked with Latva in Rifle. He said that there are organizations similar to Latva’s in the music world, but not so much in the art world. He said the overwhelming support he received made him want to help Latva create that support for all art teachers in the county.

“In a rural community, we don’t have as much support,” said Kyle Jones, president of Bristlecone. “It was something that would not only be valuable to teachers, but that this community desperately needed.”

Latva’s concept was to help bring the students’ art out into the community for people to experience.

“There are a lot of really professional student artists who deserve recognition for what they do,” she said.

She has already helped find ways to showcase student art and has partnered with the City of Glenwood Springs, Carbondale Play Center, The Launchpad and others to showcase art to local students.

“I think it was a really powerful experience for the kids to see their work in such a professional environment,” she said. “Their work looks so professional.”

Bristlecone has grown throughout the county and in basalt. There have been art collaborations with each of the libraries throughout the summer and now Latva is ready to get back to working with teachers.

The work she does with individual teachers is tailored to the instructor’s needs.

“What Bristlecone does is come and provide support for their art exhibitions, provides volunteer support, provides material support and also provides collaborative support,” Jones said. “So she’ll come in and help the teachers plan, especially like the first-year teachers. She’s there helping them understand what to expect in their first year.”

When working with experienced teachers, she’s there to simply be a helping hand, he said.

Bristlecone Arts Collaborative Director Lindsay Latva shows children how to mix colors at the Color Research Workshop at the Carbondale Branch Library on Friday afternoon.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Although Latva has a strong team and achieved success last year, Bristlecone is growing and she is looking for more willing partners in the community.

Whether it’s sponsorships, volunteers or artists who want to help with collaborations, she hopes to get as much help as possible.

Bristlecone offers a variety of sponsorships beyond funding the nonprofit as a whole. People can sponsor students and their art, sponsors can give student scholarships for art supplies, or even sponsor an art class somewhere like Glenwood Springs Arts Center, Carbondale Play Center, or Launch Pad.

Supporters can purchase art as one of the best forms of support for students.

“They go directly to the students and teachers who make it happen,” Jones said. “Just bringing this community together. The sponsorship will help us because we are looking to attract art teachers as well.”

While doing all this, Latva is also developing professionally, not only with the districts here, but also with the Colorado Art Educators Association, Jones said.

“She’s a well-known speaker who gives lectures, she’s committed to state art standards,” Jones said.

Latva does the work she loves and hopes to spread this work to all other art lovers.

“I mean, to be a teacher, you have to love your craft so much,” Latva said.

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