Summervail Art Workshop

July 19, 2022
2 min read


During the summer of 2021, the SummerVail Art Workshop held a 50th Anniversary celebration of one of the most defining programs in the history of the Vail Valley and the art community at large. 

SummerVail of 1970

In the summer of 1970, three recent college art grads were sharing a beer in Vail, Colorado.  Jim Cotter and Dan Telleen had opened a jewelry shop a couple of years previously and Randy Milhoan was a recent resident.  Although Vail had been incorporated as a town in 1966, it had yet to make much traction overcoming its image as a ski resort.  Business was slow - summers were dead.  Randy floated the idea of starting some sort of summer arts program as a way of attracting artists to the area as well as boosting the local economy.

“The basic concept of Summervail is to bring together a small number of students and instructors who can work together on individual and group projects in the related arts. Those involved will have a close and informal atmosphere in which to work. Each student may take a maximum of two classes and each instructor will teach only one class. This should allow relatively deep involvement in projects for the two-week period. Students and instructors will also be encouraged to participate in any class or seminar they are not directly involved with, which hopefully will stimulate an interrelation of ideas and thoughts. Classes may range from small rap sessions to wilderness trips to large group projects.  Planned projects include; an open-air theatre, production of the summer edition of Afternoon magazine, an amateur rodeo, and an art carnival.”

[Class Handout, Continuing Education Division, Colorado Mountain College, 1971]

During the week-long event,  Randy Milhoan was credited as “the original siren song that enticed artists to the Vail Valley (Colorado), the importance of art and culture can be directly attributable to Randy Milhoan and the Summervail Art Workshop Legacy Project to establish the historical preservation of the legacy of the Summervail Art Workshop for Art and Critical Studies program, which ran from 1971 to 1984 and became an invaluable treasured and historical asset to the Town of Vail and to the art world.” 

With big shoes to fill, Milhoan Design began sketching ideas for the 50th Anniversary poster knowing that some of the best minds in the art world would cast a gaze upon the final piece. The final piece is a vintage image of Randy Milhoan (left), Cecil Warfell (center), and the late John Jessic (pottery wheel) contrasted by a colorful composition of colors and shapes.

50th Anniversary Summervail Art Workshop poster