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Florida artists visit Anderson Ranch in Snowmass Village to explore new ways to work

Mark Fleuridor uses a mix of paint and glue for one of his pieces.
Trey Broomfield
Oolite Arts
Mark Fleuridor uses a mix of paint and glue for one of his pieces.

Fourteen artists from Florida recently wrapped up a five-week stay at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village through the Oolite Arts residency program.

Artist Monica Lopez De Victoria has made waves in the Miami art scene. Literally.

Early in her two-decade career as an artist, she supported herself by swimming as a professional entertainer at various South Beach hotels.

“I had two separate careers,” she said. “One being art, and then the other one was swimming for entertainment.”

Those careers eventually merged.

“Recently, I have gotten a few grants to do some projects that kind of make the swimming more ... maybe avant garde, you could say, or more experimental,” she said. “It's combining a little bit more of dance and the ideas of abstraction or shapes and things like that into the work.”

That type of exploration and experimentation brought her and 13 other artists from the Miami-Dade area to Snowmass Village from early February through last week.

The residency was supported by Florida-based nonprofit arts organization Oolite Arts.

“We started asking artists what is it that they needed the most,” said Dennis Scholl, president and CEO of Oolite Arts. “One of the things that was high on their list was the ability to go away and have these residencies where they were given time and space.”

The five-week residency provided plenty of time and space, as well as access to skilled instructors.

“It's great to say, ‘I want to work on ceramics,’ but (at Anderson Ranch) you've got somebody there who does it every day, taking you through that process, holding your hand, letting you mess around,” Scholl said. “And that's what the ranch is. It's a time for the artist to try things that are divergent, if you will, from their general practices.”

Monica De Victoria Lopez works on a maglica piece.
Trey Broomfield
Oolite Arts
Monica Lopez De Victoria works on a maglica piece.

Monica Lopez De Victoria took advantage of the ceramics shop.

“I've never worked in ceramics, and they have an amazing facility here,” she said. “So I'm taking the time to really explore new mediums – new ways of making art here.”

Artist Reginald O’Neal has also been stepping outside his comfort zone.

“I’ve just been practicing on my craft – just trying to take it a step further,” he said. “I'm doing stuff that makes me uncomfortable painting-wise, like painting landscapes.”

His recent exhibition, “At the Feet of Mountains,” elevated the young artist into the Miami spotlight. The exhibition, which focused primarily on people, depicted family members and friends in the Overtown neighborhood, a historic hub of Black culture and community in Miami.

“The content of the show was mostly like my family members and things that I was surrounded by,” he said. “Kind of letting nature take its course with how things turn out within my family, and still finding them to be very beautiful, rather than trying to control the narrative and make my family and friends be something in particular.”

Oolite resident Reginald O'Neal paints in his studio
Trey Broomfield
Oolite Arts
Oolite resident Reginald O'Neal paints in his studio.

Between practicing landscapes, O’Neal has been reading "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" and snowboarding, “which is a life-changing experience because I never snowboarded in my life, but it was a great experience.”

“I was falling so much,” he said. “I’ve just been enjoying the atmosphere and enjoying other artists, too – just talking to them.”

The third cohort of Oolite artists left the ranch March 9. Forty-two artists have now made the journey from Miami to Snowmass Village in search of new ways to make art.

Dominic joined the Edlis Neeson arts and culture desk at Aspen Public Radio in Jan. 2022.