For Lindsay Latva, the name is a homage to the simple resilience that breeds unimaginable beauty.
“Bristlecones are strong, beautiful, and long-lived trees native to Colorado that can withstand harsh climates and environments for hundreds of years,” said Latva, founder of Bristlecone Art Collaborative. “A beautiful metaphor for art and art education that has been around for thousands of years and survives and often thrives in even the harshest of conditions.”
Bristlecone Art Collaborative is a nonprofit organization founded by Latva to build a stronger arts community and provide support to art teachers across Garfield County.
“I was an art teacher for 12 years and I saw some gaps that I felt weren’t being filled and that I would have liked to have had support with when I was a teacher,” she said. “I started really thinking about it while I was in the classroom and decided to retire from teaching to try and fill in those gaps for other teachers.”
Bristlecone President Kyle Jones was a music teacher who worked with Latva in Rifle. He said that there are organizations similar to Latvia in the music world, but not so many in the art world. He said the tremendous support he received made him want to help Latva create that support for all art teachers in the county.
“In a rural community, we don’t have that much support,” said Bristlecone President Kyle Jones. “This was something that not only would be valuable for the teachers, but this community desperately needed it.”
Latva’s concept was to bring the students’ art into the community for people to experience.
“There are a lot of really professional student artists out there who deserve credit for what they do,” she said.
She has already helped find ways to display student art and has partnered with the City of Glenwood Springs, Carbondale Play Center, The Launchpad and others to display local student art.
“I think it was a really powerful experience for the kids to see their work in such a professional environment,” she said. “Your work looks so professional.”
Bristlecone has grown throughout the county and into basalt. There have been art collaborations with each of the libraries throughout the summer, and now Latva is ready to start collaborating with the teachers again.
The work she does with each teacher is tailored to the needs of the teacher.
“What Bristlecone does is come in and provide support for their art exhibitions, it provides volunteer support, it provides material support, and it also provides collaborative support,” Jones said. “So she’s going to go in and help the teachers plan, especially the first years. It helps them understand what to expect in their first year.”
When working with experienced teachers, she’s just a helping hand, he said.
Although Latva has a strong team and was successful last year, Bristlecone is growing and is looking for more willing partners within the community.
Whether it’s a sponsorship, volunteer, or artist looking to help with collaborations, she hopes to get as much help as possible.
Bristlecone offers a variety of sponsorships outside of funding the nonprofit organization as a whole. People can sponsor students and their art, sponsors can provide student grants for art supplies, or even sponsor an art class at a place like the Glenwood Springs Arts Center, the Carbondale Play Center, or the Launch Pad.
Supporters can purchase art as one of the best forms of student support.
“These go straight to the students and teachers who make these things possible,” Jones said. “Just bringing this community together. Sponsorships will help us because we also want to attract teaching artists.”
As she does all of this, Latva also engages in professional development, not just with the districts here, but with the Colorado Art Educators Association, Jones said.
“She’s an outstanding public speaker, she’s involved with the state’s art standards,” Jones said.
Latva does the work she loves and hopes to extend that work to all other art lovers.
“I mean, to be a teacher you have to love your craft so much,” Latva said.
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