Ranch Hands

How the Colorado Art Ranch created the only Artposium in the world.

September 2009

I recently found myself in Trinidad, Colorado, a town I'm enamored of because it's sparse enough to still be designated as "frontier lands" by the U.S. government (which means, essentially, that there are six or fewer people per square mile in the county), because of the old-fashioned brick streets, and because it's known as the "Sex Change Capital of the World."

I wasn't in Trinidad for gender reassignment surgery—but I was there to attend a symposium that was, aptly enough, about "sex and sexuality." I had driven across the entire state of Colorado not only to teach a class on "Writing Sex Well," something that emerged from my own writing on the topic, but also to be an attendee, so I could pop in on various lectures and art shows, where I saw everything from a male artist who knits superhero costumes to an expert on the biology of human attraction and sex. I was also there to clarify a confusing spatter of words that represents one of the best-kept secrets of Colorado.

You see, all this was part of an Artposium sponsored by the Colorado Art Ranch—"Artposium" and "Colorado Art Ranch" being phrases that require a bit of explication, because neither is accurate and both are confusing. The Colorado Art Ranch, despite being in Colorado, is not really about the arts, per se, nor is it a ranch. Denverite Grant Pound, who founded the Ranch, originally wanted a specific location for these events, but then fate intervened. "No one gave me a ranch," he says. "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need."

And, thus, the idea of a roving symposium, or in this case, a roving Artposium, was born.

Pound, an artist, and his wife, Peggy Lawless, invented the word "Artposium," which is meant to convey the idea of a symposium without the "grad-school angst," as Pound puts it. That means the Colorado Art Ranch Artposium is a weekend think tank of writers, artists, scientists, and regular people, all of whom meet in various locations across Colorado to share ideas about different topics—and to party. To my knowledge (and Google supports this factoid) there is only one "Artposium" in the entire world, and it just so happens to be right here in Colorado.