Leadville artist Ursula Gilgulin, who will show her art at next week’s 3-2-1 Fridays Meet the Artist Summer Series event, draws inspiration from piles of discarded material like this one.

Friday, Aug. 5 marks the final 3-2-1 Fridays Meet the Artist Summer Series at Harperrose Studios this summer. Multitalented artist and crafter Ursula Gilgulin will showcase her work from 5 to 8 p.m. at Harperrose, 601 Harrison Ave.

Gilgulin earned a BFA and MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, with additional graduate studies elsewhere. She has worked as an art educator in public and higher education in New York City, where she also worked as a city planner. 

After relocating to Leadville in 1973, she continued teaching art, art history and art appreciation classes at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville and Edwards. Gilgulin recently stopped teaching, because  teaching virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t work for her. “I love art and I love teaching art,” said Gilgulin, “and I wish art would be the discipline it used to be.”

“I don’t like to sit still,” said Gilgulin. Each day she and her dog go out looking for junk: old pottery, shoe soles, discarded plastic lids, pieces of metal and junky wood.  These items become the raw material that she organizes into appropriate piles. Her goal is to repurpose her finds into art, including wreaths, wall art and wooden stars that evoke a theme.

For example, Gilgulin once transformed an old drawer filled with colorful discarded plastic lids into a piece of art titled “Put a Lid on it.”  A wreath she created, “Cracked Crocks,” features pieces of crock pottery that Gilgulin took about five years to collect. Each of her creations has a similarly remarkable story.

Repurposing is just one of Gilgulin’s passions. She also paints, draws and creates pieces that highlight local beauty and personal family memories. Her detailed natural drawings and paintings of flowers, bushes, aspen and pines are not to be missed.  

A current project of hers features large drawings of the Swiss Alps derived from images from her Swiss family. Using small photographs taken by her grandparents in the 1920s, Gilgulin has recreated the scenes her grandfather photographed. One piece follows her grandmother’s ski tracks across the snowy terrain. Gilgulin’s parents immigrated to the U.S. in 1947 and became naturalized citizens in 1955. 

A woman of many talents, Gilgulin dedicated years to her work as a flight instructor, FAA designated pilot examiner and FAA Safety Team representative.  She became an institution at the Leadville Airport and has logged over 12,500 flight hours. As a young girl, she accompanied her father to the airport where they both loved watching the planes. Eventually she gave her dad flying lessons, a gift he treasured. 

Come meet and visit with Leadville’s treasured artist Ursula Gilgulin at Harperrose Studios for the final 3-2-1 Fridays event on Friday, Aug. 5. She will share her art, stories and talents from 5-8 p.m. Enjoy food, drink and good company during this special evening co-sponsored by the Leadville Arts Coalition.

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