Friday, March 2, 2007

The Helen Parker Art Studio

The historic little blue building in old town Lafayette, Colorado has lived many lives. What was once Lafayette's kindergarten, a storage facility and even a wash house, is a building with a history and with history comes a story. This one involves an artist, a mother and daughter, a friendship, dreams and a pair of red cowboy boots.

Helen, a Birch and Douglas Elementary Schools art teacher and artist, started renovations on the little blue building with the dream of turning it into an art studio for herself. New cherry wood floors, walls and electricity were added but renovations stopped with her sudden death and the little blue building sat. In the coming years it was used as a storage facility by her daughter Rachel. It sat untouched for 7 years until Rachel and Kerry were looking for a place to expand their jewelry design business. The perfect place was right there in front of them in what everyone called “the schoolhouse.”

In the spring of 2005, renovations started. It was messy, dusty and sometimes overwhelming. But with determination and help from friends, everything was hauled out and cleaned and we began to see what a fabulous place we had. We found many treasures while we cleaned, including a bag of Milagros that we swore kept mysteriously moving around everytime we set them down. Each time we discovered them again we knew this was the right place for us to be. A friendly mannequin we nicknamed Paco sat in the corner with a bandaged arm. We still hope he is out there somewhere riding around Lafayette. Boxes and boxes of art supplies and treasures we named collageables, were waiting for us to transform them into art. One item we don’t have a story for but we find intriguing are the red cowboy boots that hang from the ceiling rafter. It is the one item we never moved and probably never will. They must be important, because everyone notices them and everyone has something nice to say about them. We like to think of the red boots as the logo for what we now call “The Helen Parker Art Studio.”

In the fall of 2005, we moved in and found that we wanted to create more than jewelry in our little studio. We started experimenting with our own art and world’s of ideas came to us. We always say we are full of ideas and it seems they never stop, so we had to share. In December we started classes for local women to come and create fine crafts with us. The classes fill each month and we have a nice group of regulars as well as new people each time. We love sharing our ideas and love meeting all of the fascinating, creative, bright women who join us. The Studio is a second home for Rachel and I; and we hope it feels the same way for everyone else who joins us there.