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Steamboat Art Museum curator retires this month

Shirley Stocks and Rod Hanna carry a painting to be hung at the Steamboat Art Museum, when the space at 807 Lincoln Ave. first opened. Stocks retires this month but will remain as a volunteer on the exhibit committee.

Shirley Stocks and Rod Hanna carry a painting to be hung at the Steamboat Art Museum, when the space at 807 Lincoln Ave. first opened. Stocks retires this month but will remain as a volunteer on the exhibit committee.

— Shirley Stocks, curator of the Steamboat Art Museum, retired from her role earlier this month.

“I want to pursue other interests, my business at Wild Horse Gallery and to travel and paint,” Stocks said.

Until the board finds another curator to fill Stocks' position, she will continue to serve as a volunteer and an active member of the museum's exhibit committee.

Rod Hanna, president of the Steamboat Art Museum board, said the museum has begun the search for a new curator while relying on the exhibit committee to oversee the upcoming exhibits this year.

“I give credit to the incredible work and dedication Shirley has given to her vision that has led the museum to where it is now,” SAM Executive Director Betse Grassby said. “Because of her, SAM has an excellent reputation in the art world.”

In 2005, Stocks and first board president Robert Diekoff co-founded the museum with the mission of collecting and preserving fine art and presenting it to the public, with a primary focus on the culture and heritage of Northwestern Colorado. SAM launched its first exhibit in late 2006.

“Shirley has literally been the heart and soul of the museum for the first 10 years of its existence,” Hanna said. “Without her dedication, persistence and hard work, I doubt that the museum would exist today. We are so pleased that Shirley has indicated that she will continue to serve in an advisory capacity for upcoming exhibits.”

Some of the artists who've exhibited at SAM include Quang Ho, Scott Christiansen, Ken Carlson, Jim Norton, Rod Hanna, Clyde Aspevig, John Fawcett, Jean Perry, Curtis Zabel, Len Chmiel, Mark Thompson and Donna Howell-Sickles.

Since 2016, the museum has presented 30 exhibits. Other traveling exhibits have included an international exchange of the work of Martha Chapa with Mexico and an exhibit of the work of E.W. (Bill) Gollings on loan from the University of Wyoming Art Museum, in addition to several oil and watercolor exhibits of regional and national renown.

Although Stocks will no longer be curator, she has already set in motion future art exhibits, including the nature photography exhibit this summer, the annual Plein Air event in the fall and an invitational exhibit planned for this winter.

“We always tried to strive for excellence and to present programming that afforded our visitors an experience that rivaled the larger, more urban museums while remaining true to our mission statement,” Stocks said. “Over the years, I have had comments from both artists and patrons who are amazed that we have been able to bring these exhibits to Steamboat. We set the bar high and provided a level for our local artists to aspire to and hopefully inspire them in the process.”

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@steamboattoday.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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