I was one of those people who decided to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday week. I isolated for 14 days before I left (this was not much of a sacrifice because we seriously hardly ever see anyone. Whatever the criteria is, I think we qualify as hermits). I drove 535 miles in one day to Paonia, Colorado to stay with my mom. It took 9.5 hours, definitely a long day for a lone driver.
Here on the western slope in Colorado, the pandemic isn’t as rampant as it is on the more populated Front Range, but it is still very much a part of life. Yesterday they announced that Colorado’s Governor, Jared Polis, and his partner, First Gentleman Marlon Reis, have been diagnosed with COVID. It hit home that anyone can get it, since he has been a huge proponent of following safety protocols. Mom and I have created our own little bubble in her home. My sister and her family have visited, but the air purifiers are turned on and everyone wears masks. Oh, 2020, you strange bitch.
Paonia is a funky and wonderful little mountain town situated in a valley that opens to a dry desert plateau to the west. There are a mix of ranchers, miners and newer transplants from more populated parts of the state and beyond. It draws creatives, free-spirits and nature-loving hippies. The difference in cultures does create some tension, but it seems that people have found ways to co-exist peacefully. There is a very strong community vibe. For example, yesterday, Mom ordered some items from a local (but regionally distributed) company, Dancing Goats. (Goats milk soaps, lotions and more.) We expected shipment by the end of the week. The next day, the doorbell rang and a lady in a cowboy hat and a mask was standing there with a bag, asking for Mom. It was Loretta Small, one of the owners of the company. She said that since we were ordering from town, she figured she’d just deliver it. She had thrown in a few extra items, and a HAND MADE, HAND WRITTEN thank you card. I was just blown away. Please support them and buy their products (they are natural and awesome, BTW).
The first creative I’ve run into on my travels is Graphic Designer Teresa Shishim. She, her husband, and daughter are all very active in this tight-knit community. Her products range from typographical fonts to original artwork to graphic design. She does design work and creative consultation for private clients and local and state organizations. I sat down with her the other day to ask about her work.
Me: “What is your favorite color, and why?”
Teresa: “The gradient that runs from fuchsia pink to bright marigold. I have a pleasant physical reaction when I see those colors. It’s almost like a taste in my mouth.”
Me: “What do you do?”
Teresa: “I interpret my clients’ marketing and graphic needs, and try to use my style to help them connect with their clients. But it’s not about my tastes, or their tastes, but what their potential clients will be attracted to. It’s a marketing game.”
Me: “Do you feel like you can remain true to yourself as an artist even though you’re working in a commercial field?”
Teresa: “On most projects, yes. I feel like I try to anticipate what their clients will be drawn to, but sometimes my clients want something that I don’t feel great about. In extreme cases I just have to tell them I can’t meet their needs. But in the best case scenarios, their feedback fuels the best design. The result is better because of their input and feedback.”
Me: “So how do you manifest creativity in your life?”
Teresa: “I dabble a lot in different media and subject matter. I still haven’t quite found a media that I would stick to. I just love to play around and different things inspire me. I also spend a lot of time looking at other peoples’ art. Museums and galleries served that purpose in the past, but now we have Instagram and Pinterest, and I LOVE looking at other peoples’ artwork on those platforms.”
Me: “As you and I are sitting here at the kitchen table chatting on this nice sunny afternoon, what are you working on?”
Teresa: “I’m painting glaze on fused glass to make a mosaic for my bathroom.”
(I feel that, at this point, I should disclose that Teresa is my sister. And as I sat at the opposite end of the table, I kept accidentally bumping the legs under the table as she tried to paint. She was very patient with me.)
You can see examples of Teresa’s work, follow her, or contact her on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest @yokadesign. Her website is yokadesign.com.
(a few examples of Yoka Design artwork below)
Paonia River Park
I always like to go down to the river and see what cool new additions have been made to this area since my last visit. Teresa designed interpretive signage for the walkway along the riverfront. Local artist Ira Houseweart created some truly phenomenal sculptures that blend in beautifully with the nature there.
Artist, homesteader, teacher and adventurer. Turning over every literal and figurative rock that I can find, living curiously and creatively outside of the conventions of the common world.
facebook: Karrie Steely Fine Art and Creative Services
Youtube: Homesteading and High Adventure