Category Archives: Collaborative Works

Art for the Endangered Landscape Honoring Wolf Creek


“The Fire Below” and “Sunset Clouds” 14″ x 14″ Oil on Canvas, $1,960 each. Click on image for a larger view.

Art for the Endangered Landscape Show and Sale

Paintings, Sculpture, Photography, Jewelry by 40 Regional Artists. Proceeds go to help us keep Wolf Creek Wild.
Opening reception: 

at 4:00pm – 7:00pm

For more information go to
You may visit the show Monday through Friday from 9am to 5 pm from December 7 to December 19, 2015
Community Partnerships Gallery at Adams State University, Alamosa, Colorado.

Wolf Creek Pass and its heavily used highway corridor hold a critical place in the ongoing struggle to balance natural systems with human disruption. The pass bisects some of the wildest remaining primitive country in the southern Rocky Mountains. To the north of the pass is half-million acre Weminuche Wildernss and to the south is the South San Juan Wilderness holding 160,000 acres. The boundaries of these two wilderness areas come to within 6 miles of each other at their closest proximity, but those are treacherous miles for wildlife and plant populations to negotiate.

Wolf Creek was also the area selected to release the reintroduced Canada lynx, an endangered species throughout its historic range.

The most controversial endangerment to consider is a 10,000- person resort complex proposed by developers on a piece of private land adjacent to Wolf Creek Ski Area.

From its origination as a questionable land exchange in 1986 to its current incarnation of transfering yet again more public land, this proposal has galvanized opposing factions. For more in-depth information on this aspect go to Wolf Creek Developments.

The Art for the Endangered Landscape project strives to shed a different light on development issues from the aspect of loss of visual beauty. This art celebration also honors what we have now and what we have to lose in a tangible and visceral manner.

Also posted in Blog, Events, Featured, Uncategorized, What's New?

Cover Art for Colorado Central Magazine

CCOctCover2015FINALColorado Central Magazine

About the painting:  This oil painting depicts fall cottonwoods on the historic Garcia Ranch. Reyes Garcia is now the steward of this ranch and allowed me to take a walk and paint this beautiful piece of property. As a retired professor of philosophy, environmental and indigenous studies, Reyes is deeply attuned to the legacy of his family’s land and the way of life it has provided for generations. With the Garcia family having originally settled in Conejos County in the 1850’s, he has a long history rooted in the special area between the Conejos and San Antonio Rivers in the southern part of the San Luis Valley.

Conserving the land and water is a way “to make my own small contribution to preserving the family legacy of ranching and the land-based culture of the ranchero tradition,” Garcia writes. “… I came to understand this tradition includes putting into practice ecological values by virtue of an instinctual love of the land that engenders good stewardship and a deep respect for all life forms, the seasonal rotation of livestock and their humane treatment, the acequia irrigation system especially, the transmission of skills which make self-reliance possible…”

in 2013, the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust worked with Reyes to complete a voluntary conservation easement on the spectacular Garcia Ranch, to insure that this working ranch will remain intact with its senior water rights in perpetuity. Learn more about RiGHT’s ongoing conservation work and the ranch at

Also posted in Blog, Collectors, Creative Process, Events, Featured, Uncategorized, What's New?, Writings

Tiers of a Storm in the Land of Contradictions

Tiers of a Storm_RRoberts

Tiers of a Storm, 48″ x 48″ Oil on Canvas

Tiers of a Storm has been submitted to the Colorado Public Arts projects for consideration to be included in the collection of a local institution, Adams State University. More than a typical sky-scape which the San Luis Valley is known for, this painting is also about the agricultural lifeblood of this area. The grid pattern which recedes into the clouds throughout the piece represents the inorganic grid pattern of the SLV, which creates a land of one-mile, perfected, quilt-like squares in what is otherwise a harsh and wild climate. The cut wheat slashes a bright accent line under a cold, threatening sky. The San Luis Valley is a land of contradictions, as is this painting. Not only in its composition, but as one still moment captured in paint, but when viewing it, the clouds appear to move.

Also posted in Blog, Creative Process, Events, Featured, Uncategorized, What's New?

Chance Encounters Exhibit

Exhibit Opens November 30th!


Firedworks Gallery is pleased to present Chance Encounters,
an exhibit with the artwork of Rita Roberts and photographs of Andoni Canela.

Some of the paintings and photographs can be seen at:

Opening Reception and for the artists:  Friday, November 30th, 7 – 9 pm
Video and presentation at 7:30 pm
Show will be on view through the holidays.


Twenty-two paintings and photographs that reflect the incredible diversity of the San Luis Valley will be on view at Firedworks Gallery in Alamosa. Two masters experience and observe together, the rhythms of art and nature, as an integral part of their creations. Each, in their own way, generate images in devotion to the wild, as well as the personal.
Both artists have contributed to land and wildlife conservation efforts. The Chance Encounters collection includes habitats protected by the Rio Grande Headwater’s Land Trust (RiGHT), the Nature Conservancy, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Monte Vista and Alamosa Wildlife Refuges, and Colorado State Wildlife areas.


Andoni Canela.
Inline image 1

For 20 years, Andoni Canela has been working as a wildlife photographer, traveling throughout the world in search of endangered species – such as polar bears, grey whales, Bengal tigers, Iberian wolves, pandas, grizzlies, condors and quetzals. His photographs have been published in National Geographic, Time, Geo, The Sunday Times, Newsweek, La Vanguardia and El País. He is the author of a dozen books and has made several expeditions to the Arctic, Amazon, Himalayas and the savannas of Africa. Beginning in the summer 2013 he has a touring exhibition with his 5 year work on the Arctic. This exhibition will be on view in more than 40 cities in Spain.

Rita Roberts.
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Artist, and long-time resident of Monte Vista, Rita Roberts, has teamed up with this master photographer. As a naturalist and landscape painter, Rita’s work has gained national attention. She is a signature member of Oil Painters of America and has been featured in national publications including, Southwest Art, American Art Collector, and The Artist’s Magazine. She holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and will complete an MFA at the Academy of Art University in 2014. She shows regularly in prestigious exhibits like Salon International in San Antonio, Women Artists of the West Invitational, Tucson and Wendt Gallery Invitationals in Laguna Beach.

Gallery hours are 10 am to 6 pm seven days a week through December. For more information please contact Carol Mondragon or 719-589-6064. Some of the paintings and photographs can be seen at:

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Firedworks Gallery
608 Main Street
Alamosa, CO 81101
719-589-6064    Email:

Also posted in Blog, Creative Process, Events, Featured, What's New?, Writings

A new project coming soon…

Accidental adventures and chance encounters often create the best results…

Light, Landscape and Wildlife of the San Luis Valley





Also posted in Blog, Events, Featured, What's New?

Who’s Guiding Whom?

The thermometer outside reads nine degrees — not a morning I would normally emerge from beneath my goose-down comforter before dawn.  “Thank god it’s almost April,” I exhale and begin the dance of pulling chilled silk over my bare skin. Another layer of mohair, then thicker wool, and sturdy denim.

I am meant for equatorial climates.

A stranger on my couch also rises — acclaimed nature photographer, Andoni Canela. I’ve lured him here with alpine promises of buffalo herds, migrating sand hill cranes, and wintry slopes of the Southern San Juans.

I found Andoni and his work on Facebook, of all places. From cyber-land to my doorstep, Andoni is the real deal, only smaller than I imagined. We’re almost the same size and I am decidedly petite. Now he rolls up his bedding, sleepy but smiling and ready to go. Like two little pixies, we tiptoe out into wee hours. Neither of us know what we’re in for.

So, I bring snacks.

Frigid air slaps me awake. I absorb the beauty of predawn half-light.The huge expanse of fading stars presses down, sandwiching us against icy snow that blankets the valley in pinkish- lavender drifts. The cold envelops our heated truck and billows its exhaust.  We’re alone on a silver-gray highway.

This valley is like a small town starlet waiting to be discovered. She makes herself up, dons her finest gown, accentuates her features with jewels, but only a handful of churchgoers get to admire her. Today might be her big break.

I hope she performs, for her sake…and mine.

Andoni took me on my word that a five hundred mile detour would be worth his while. I had the nerve to invite him and he was brave enough to accept. Now it is time for the land to deliver. I’ve made phone calls, scoured maps, and gotten permission from land owners, but we are still at the mercy of this climate’s unpredictable moods. Neither copious prayers nor hopeful offerings can divert the Southern San Juan’s shedding of winter. Gusts and gales come as they must, and we are on the verge the windy season.

Nowhere on earth is there a more miserable springtime.

Our first turn is a wrong one. The sun inches toward the horizon and I realize that we’re supposed to be south of the river but north of the highway. That only involves about fifty yards of real estate, and the pasture we’re trudging through seemed a much more likely place to find a herd of buffalo. We backtrack. The sun and the stakes get higher. We’re on the verge of loosing our morning shoot.

Finally, we locate the herd. I was assured that these bison are used to people, so we enter the small, fenced-in pasture hoping for close-up shots. However, the alpha male takes offense at our intrusion. He bounds to the edge of his group of females and offspring. Steam puffs from his nostrils in audible bursts. Two steps in our direction.

“That one looks like trouble.”

I shed my camera pack, ready to drop it on the other side of the fence, but Andoni holds it for me. That bison shows us his trot. I scramble over wood and wire, shaking just a little. My companion is much quicker over the fence and we back up together as the bulk of four-legged fur huffs toward us at a full run. Did the builders of this livestock enclosure considered the force of a charging buffalo? The burly brute halts in an abrupt stop, exactly where we exited his territory.

Right on cue, dawn breaks. Bravo.

“Here we go,” Andoni whispers. Splendid, first light on a bison rancher’s menacing bull. Our packs drop and shutters click. The bison prances and poses for us in perfect, masculine, untamed power. So much between sunup and moonrise is completely outside our control. Despite initial mishaps, this day continues to grant one photogenic gift after another. Weather and clouds shroud the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with luxurious austerity. And later, a silent blizzard covers a wilder herd of two hundred shaggy-haired beasts; a classic, snow-covered vision of the American west.

It is both comforting and unnerving to me, this blessed but unforgiving geography, like a teacher who pushes you to find the upper limits of your potential when the real lesson is that there are none.”You are one lucky man,” I tell my new friend, as snowflakes melt into his dark hair. Happy, brown eyes smile over cupped hands. He warms them with his breath. “Yes, I am very lucky to find such a good guide for my trip.”

High praise in a Spanish accent.

I’ve managed to live in the San Luis Valley for ten years, without truly accepting it as my home…until this moment. I needed Andoni’s fresh eyes to see it, to remember my place. Open, curious, excited with a child’s wonderment, the wealth of his energy is just as valuable as his technical expertise. Andoni’s profession has taken him all over the world to witness and record
extraordinary spectacles, nature’s premier events. Still, my home has the power to move him. Now I claim it with a sense of prideful ownership.

Neither of us knew what we were getting ourselves into. I expected to be his guide, but it was the handsome Spaniard who showed me where I might belong.
© 2010, Rita Roberts