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Classic movie inspires cross-stitch creation

Allison Sinkewich turned her summers off from teaching into a time to work on an art project that spanned eleven years. Her inspiration? "2001: A Space Odyssey."

GUNNISON, Colo. — Colorado's mountain towns are known for a few things. Towering peaks. Ski slopes and hiking trails. Wildlife.

In short, nature.

Culture, on the other hand, is not something that usually rises to the top of mind in most of these towns, including Gunnison, which is hours away from the closest large art museum.

"It's an hour away from the nearest Target," said Gunnison resident Paige Stewart while laughing.

It is a remote place for an artist to set up shop, but that is exactly what Stewart did. She is an artist, and also a gallery owner in the small town.

"People need exposure—we live so removed," Stewart said while working in her studio near downtown Gunnison. "There's something different that happens when you get to see a show right there."

Credit: Anne Herbst
Gunnison, Colo., is a small mountain town known more for nature, than culture.

Stewart's gallery is small, but she is making plans to have it make a big impact. She wants to showcase contemporary artists—more specifically, female contemporary artists. She plans on doing four shows a year that will feature these artists.

"If not here, then where? If not you, then who? If not now, then when?" said Stewart, all questions that were asked at a Gunnison Creative District meeting.

Stewart, an Iowa native, came to a conclusion that even she admitted sounded a little cheesy. 

"I had a total, 'If you build it, they will come,' moment," Stewart said.

Her first show highlights local artist Allison Sinkewich, who has a lot of job titles. Artist. Maker. Humanitarian. Mom of three kids under the age of six.

Credit: Anne HErbst
Allison Sinkewich's art inspired by "2001: A Space Odyssey."

"It's not really about gender roles," Sinkewich said. "It's about giving yourself space to explore what you love."

For 11 summers, Sinkewich cross stitched twelve panels on her summers off as a teacher.

"It started out with my husband criticizing my choices on how I spent my time off from work," Sinkewich said, smiling.

The work is not the typical cute, cross stitched pillows and samplers.

"It's a series of cross stitches that I did that are letterbox stills from the movie '2001 A Space Odyssey' by Stanley Kubrick," Sinkewich said. "I did it because Stanley Kubrick also has a background in design and so he frames his shots in really cool ways."

Those works sat at Sinkewich's home for years. She said she was not sure anyone else would want to see them.

Credit: Anne Herbst
A cross-stitched panel from Allison Sinkewich's work inspired by Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey."

"I had no intention of hanging up and selling at any point," Sinkewich said.

And then she met Stewart who disagreed.

"What struck me was her artistry, the uniqueness of her vision, and her desire to carry this out," Stewart said. "Just seeing her art and being like, 'Who are you?', Stewart said.

That is a question both Stewart and Sinkewich say that many women ask themselves, which is why a space like this is important.

"Being a mom, which is a form of creativity and creative outlet, but to also recognize her individuality and her personhood separate from being a mom," Stewart said, talking about Sinkewich. "Women are not great at saying they're good at stuff—even for me it's a lot easier to promote other female artists than myself."

Sinkewich said she felt the same.

"I guess that's being raised as a female and that's the expectation that you don't put yourself out there and you don't talk about, 'I'm so great at this,'" Sinkewich said.

But she will say she is proud to see her work displayed in Stewart's gallery.

"It's really fun," Sinkewich said. "If I had a space like this, this is how I'd hang these."

Sinkewich's next project is complicated in a different way. She is opening a shop in Gunnison that focuses on makers like her who work with textiles. It is called Suberversive Stitches Sew Shop, and she hopes to have it open soon. It is a dream that she and her mother cooked up over the years.

"Opening a space like this is something we planned to do together that we're not going to get to do," Sinkewich. "My mom passed away this year and I was lucky enough to inherit something.

"I'm finding meaning and purpose in a situation that I'm still coming to terms with."

Sinkewich said she had a lot of help with business planning from Stewart as well. They said they both believe that supporting each other and other women is the best way to create opportunities.

"I think that's what's most exciting is that this feels like a beginning," Stewart said.

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