brendt & maria
The Museum Of Friends (MoF) is a contemporary art museum that opened in October, 2006 in the Southern Colorado rural community of Walsenburg. Brendt Berger's and Maria Cocchiarelli’s shared vision for the new museum was to create a place where everyone feels welcomed and the art created by all people valued. The initial collection of 600 works given by their friends became the core of the collection. Over the last 15 years it has grown to over 1600 works that includes paintings, sculptures, fine art prints, drawings, photographs and digital media. MoF occupies 10,000 square feet of museum display space, with classroom areas, a gift shop and a lower level. MoF is known for it’s inclusive and egalitarian open door policy with intention to uplift the community through discussions of creativity, inclusion and developing opportunities. Many public and educational programs and exhibitions explore how cross cultural understanding and tolerance can make for a just and peaceful society.
MoF’s grand opening in October, 2007 encouraged the community to explore the building with tours on the 2nd floor that included: the permanent collection, the administrative offices, an art resource library, a visiting artist apartment and two galleries devoted to the Pacific. These explore pre-Columbian Mexican, Australian, Japanese, Southeast Asian and focus on Aboriginal Polynesian artifacts. The works on display are greatly treasured by Brendt Berger as they have been passed down to him from his Native Hawaiian ancestors.
In 2010, MoF began to occupy the entire building including the first and lower level establishing the changing exhibition and educational programs, and gift shop Made in Walsenburg.
The Museum of Friends' mission is to "honor the artists who have freely given art to the museum's founders thereby establishing its collection. MoF honors art and celebrates the generous artists who made possible and gave form to its existence. MoF's primary goals are to foster the open inquiry necessary for a cultural education and its ideals through exhibitions, public, educational programs, sharing an extensive reference library, a permanent collection and creating opportunities for the community of Walsenburg and Huerfano County."
about the collection
Fellow artists gave the works on view as gifts over many years. MoF opened the exhibition space in 2006 with the intention of giving back to the community of Walsenburg and Huerfano County what was freely given in friendship – art by artists from around the world. The permanent collection is housed on the second floor and includes over 1600 artworks: paintings, fine art prints, sculptures, photographs, drawings and digital media. The artists represent diverse backgrounds, interests and styles. Primarily the works are contemporary with a few from earlier eras. The art work in this collection are representative of contemporary issues that explore the artist’s role in society; the his/herstory of art in Southern Colorado and the Counter Culture; many created by marginalized artists whose work speaks of resiliency and connection to others (separate from the commercial gallery system.) MoF contains some collections such as: Myron Woods' Photographs from the Ford Foundation Project Life in Southern Colorado’s Drop City, Trinidad (1960’s;) Zoe Childerley’s Where’s Walsenburg?photographs of Huerfano County and community intervention; Richard Mock’s editorial illustrations (linocuts – many hand water colored) for the New York Times and three series of lithographs from Petroglyphs of Northern Mexico series. Paul Valadez's The Great American Mexican American Songbook; Maria Cocchiarelli’s Looking Down series and an archive of public art from 1990 until the present; Brendt Berger’s Pattern Paintings and Prints from 1970’s to the present; an archive of children's sketches from MoF workshops and public art projects; Civitas and Community Matters Charette Architectural Drawings of Reimagining Downtown Walsenburg with Urban Planner and Richard Farley, AIA. A section of the permanent collection is devoted to two galleries of Native Hawaiian art given to Brendt Berger by his Native Hawaiian ancestors. A Kahuna bowl from practicing ancestor in 1700’s, a Kapa Moi ancestral bed and hand stitched quilts from early 1800’s, kalabashs, serving platters, ivory ankle bracelet all pre contact and much more. For a complete list of artists in the permanent collection, click here.
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, MoF is open by appointment during regular hours Tuesday through Saturday. Guest tours are limited to ten or less. Masks and social distancing will be enforced. To visit please schedule on line by gong to “Tours” and to “In-Person Tours.” We look forward to meeting you and sharing the collections.
If you prefer you can have a virtual experience by going to: “On-Line Tour Experience the Art Now” an audio/visual excursion that tells stories of the friendships with the artists in the permanent collection. The introduction is by Valarie Abney who directed the on-line project with the help of the Fox Theatre as we responded to COVID-19. This will give you a taste of the whole permanent collection about 200 works out of 1600 works of art.
Roof & Dick Building
For several decades the 1910 Roof & Dick Building has anchored the heart of downtown Walsenburg, including with national chain stores like J.C. Penney (1932-1976) and Ben Franklin (1977-1985).
Over time the building has been altered from its 1910 appearance to accommodate the needs of its commercial tenants. Today the building is the home of the Museum of Friends.
the land of milk & honey
This work is about the much-deliberated American journey, the search for a better life and people’s connection with the land. It was made during an artist residency at the Museum of Friends in Southern Colorado, where there has been a constant flux of migration since the first settlers. Pioneers headed west during the Gold Rush, eventually setting up homesteads and ranches; later people were brought from all over the world to work in the coal mines. The counterculture children of the 1960s were attracted by the beauty and isolation of the San Luis valley and founded the hippy communes. One commune still survives and many people from now defunct communities stayed in the area, giving an otherwise conservative county an alternative vibe. Despite the downturn in fortunes the people who remain are steadfast in their love for the land, still determined to reject the system and cling to the once promised freedom of the wild west.
mixing it up at miner's plaza
MoF artists, volunteers and community members worked well-known NYC sculptor Scott Pfaffman onMixing it Up at Miner’s Plaza. We engaged community youth and artists to begin a dialogue on what is public art and the role of artists in the community. Participants filled out a questionnaireMistaken Identitythat asked these questions. The intention to begin to use the park that previously went unnoticed and not used by the community as there were barriers to enter. Working with Scott, Mary Hoffman, Harold Vargas, Ione Glumac, and many other local artists we designed a plan and worked on sculpture and solar light installations from recycled materials donated by neighboring businesses. Scott Pfaffman is an experienced community artist who has worked with inner city youth on collective outdoor works of art. Scott is an activist and was an ideal visiting artist who inspired and ignited our local Huerfano County youth who are 50% mixed indigenous and Hispanic and geographically isolated/ economically disadvantaged. Scott was able to create this unique project with our audience over a two week period as we collaborated with other area organizations interested in social action through the arts and beautifying the bleak downtown. This engagement focused on the power of art, creativity and community.
public art by scott pfaffman
In this brief film is Scott Pfaffman's public art proposal visuals and the new works and exhibitions in 2016 and 2017 at Mof. Please view this to get an introduction of the exhibition galleries and programs.