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Salida sculptor and painter Deidre Wilda of Arts Collective at 124 F Street in Salida. Courtesy photo

Plans for “Arts Collective”, a new gallery at 124 F Street in Salida are underway in the 1,560 sf space recently vacated by Structure Gallery.

Salida artist Deidre Wilda, the principal behind the new venture intends to showcase the work of as many local and regional artists as possible, with a mix of 30 fine artists and fine craft people. “You can’t rule out fine crafts…we get too hung up on labels…the line is so blurred now”, she said.

“This is going to be an exciting and warm, welcoming place to walk into. Art is all about life and love and emotion; all those things that we feel. That’s my idea of a good gallery.”

Ark Valley Voice spoke with Colorado native Wilda who is a 2011 BFA graduate of Adams State University in Alamosa. In her own practice, Wilda is a sculptor who works in bronze and aluminum as well as mixed media.

Her primary focus is on wildlife (especially birds) and she creates watercolors as well. In those mediums, she learned about foundry techniques and later participated in “iron pours” in Tucumcari, NM.

Wilda explained that the new gallery is coming together rapidly. “Most people would need three to four months to launch a new business; I am trying to make it happen in less than two months, she said.

New business model

Wilda says her gallery draws on the best ideas from Sammy Berman and The Artists’ Gallery in Cañon City together with advice from local artist Gloria Jean Countryman. Yet the initial concept of an artist co-op has been modified. Experienced artists may agree: “A lot of egos get in the way [in a co-op]…too much time is spent on politics and deciding who gets what display position…”, she said.

“So this will be a one-owner model, yet with artists working part-time in the’s a bonus, because people love meeting the artist …”she added. “This model works. To have one owner who has final say, yet I will ask for input.”

Opening soon

According to Wilda, she hopes to open around Thanksgiving, just in time for the annual lighting of Christmas Mountain. Right now, the building owner is redoing drywall and freshening up the space which for years was the original home of Sweeties and before that, a deli, bakery and restaurant. With an expansive front window and built-in gallery lighting, the space promises to be inviting.

Wilda says she hopes that the renewed First Friday events in the downtown Creative District will spark new interest in the arts, with the next one planned for December 1. “We need these nights year ’round, not just in the summer when the tourists are already here. This gallery is for locals to find art for their homes.”

“There are many artists who have contacted me who are so excited. There are many unrepresented , yet wonderful artists in this area who are looking for more than just a small amount of wall space; here they can talk about their own work.” Wilda encourages people to watch this project in progress.

She says she appreciates the help she has received from Tina Gramann at the Salida Arts & Culture Division and Alyssa Boland at the Salida Council for the Arts. “They have been tremendous. Their support and kindness in helping me and sending people my way has been truly helpful.”

Wilda does still have room for a few more artists to achieve her goal of making the gallery sustainable in the long run. Interested artists may contact her at