Olio’s current display is the first art show for Denver-based artist Margaret Hunt.
It’s also especially meaningful for Hunt and the artistic community in Mancos – she’s part of the reason the Mancos Creative District exists.
Hunt is executive director of Colorado Creative Industries, a division of the state’s Office of Economic Development. The organization supports arts throughout Colorado and certifies towns and cities as creative districts based on a place’s history and strength of the local creative community.
“We were created to promote and support and expand the creative industries to drive Colorado’s economy,” Hunt said. “To grow jobs. And most importantly, to enhance our quality of life.”
Hunt was born in Minneapolis, before being “dragged around the country” by her father, who worked in the aerospace industry. When she turned 18, though, she settled for a while in Salt Lake City.
“I had a long career in economic development,” she said. “And then I made the courageous decision to go into the arts as a professional administrator. My passion is the arts.”
She served as director of the Utah Arts Council and Office of Museum Services, and then in 2013 moved to Colorado to take up her current job as executive director of Colorado Creative Industries.
The organization operates under the state’s Office of Economic Development. It provides a variety of arts-based grants to nonprofits and communities across the state, in addition to other initiatives such as promoting public art and certifying creative districts.
A creative district, she said, is “a community unifying around a vision to advance their community, either as a community development tool or an economic development tool around the creative industries.”
For a place to become a creative district, Hunt and her colleagues seek out a number of factors.
“A place has to have an authentic and unique story first and foremost,” she said. “There has to be a proven concentration of creative enterprises and people. And so that has to be well-documented. There has to be a strong organization that is leading the effort, though it is a collaboration between many organizations in a community.”
The prospective district must also have paid staff, a good strategic plan, and a long-term financial plane, she said.
By attaining creative district certification, a place becomes eligible for benefits like tourism branding support and additional funding. Mancos attained certification in July 2016. It was a collective effort by local artists, supporters of creative enterprises, community leaders, and gallery owners, Hunt said.
“It was a group of people who banded together and decided that this was the direction they wanted to go, based on the history of Mancos,” she said. “As a place where the West and Western culture is honored and respected.”
And her own artwork now graces the walls at Olio Food Wine Art, 114 W. Grand Ave., featuring a variety of mediums, including acrylic, collage, and encaustic painting, a wax-based art form.
It’s her first show – usually, she just paints for herself, she said.
“I’ve always had a studio in my home, and it’s always been my place where I go to be my most creative self,” she said. “Mostly, I’ve done artwork for myself, for the process of being creative and to experiment with different types of media and art forms.”
But when her work was seen by Tami Graham and Susan Lander, two council members from Colorado Creative Industries, they suggested that she showcase it. The two women, from Mancos and Durango, respectively, connected her to Rena Wilson, who runs the Olio art display.
The show opened June 15, during the Mancos Grand Summer Nights event. It went well, Hunt said, and they sold seven paintings that night.
Thirty percent of all sales will go toward the Mancos Creative District. Her show will run through Aug. 3.