A collaboration between the Gunnison Arts Center and The Center for Mental Health

Made possible by a grant from the Community Foundation of the Gunnison Valley. 

Shape, see, move, hear, and feel what’s inside. This NEW series of art activities and classes is aimed at helping all in our community understand and safely express emotions during difficult times. The Gunnison Arts Center has teamed up with The Center for Mental Health to offer this mindful art series to the Gunnison Valley. We’re here to help you explore and express creativity and emotions through art. Come participate in-person or in a virtual class and even download an activity to do in your own space, on your own time. Learn about GAC’s Covid-19 class policies here.

*Click area of focus to view classes.

Stress Relief







Stretch Yourself ~ (All Ages)

Warm-up your body and prepare to move freely and comfortably within it. In this short but effective stretching session we will free your body of the stress it can hold to prepare you to fully engage in your next dance or movement class, or even your day to day activities. This course can be paired with any other dance or movement course. Instructor: Jes Vogan.

  • Virtual Class: Available to watch on YouTube on Friday, July 24.
  • Cost: $10 / GAC Members $8.50

Sign up HERE


Rise Above Covid: An Acrylic Painting Workshop ~ (Young Adults and Adults Ages 16+)

Participants will explore the Gunnison Valley from above by painting a birds eye view of a local area that has brought them joy and escape during the Covid-19 pandemic. Maps of the valley will be provided to be able to trace the features of the landscape and then, using acrylic paints, participants will paint colors that represent the emotions they felt during the pandemic and/or the emotions they felt when spending time in their favorite location in our beautiful valley. 

  • Instructor: Deirdre Jones
  • Tuesday, November 18. 5:30 – 8:00 pm. 
  • Cost: $25 / $21.25 Members

Sign up HERE


Coping with Uncertainty & Change








Trust Yourself, Trust Your Voice ~ (Teens & Adults 18+)

We’ve all found ourselves in situations, be it giving a presentation, in a class, at a meeting, or sometimes just at a meal with friends and family, having something to say, but for any number of reasons, stopping ourselves and staying quiet.  The stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what we have to offer are powerful and important and not always accurate.  In this class, we’ll help identify the stories and narratives that may be holding us back, and using theatre-based activities and techniques, dig into new practices to remind us of just how powerful we are and how much we have to offer.  Wear comfortable clothes and prepare to move and laugh! Location: GAC Dance Studio. Instructor: Heather Hughes.

  • Teens 13 – 18: Friday, October 13. 7:00 – 9:00 pm.
  • Adults 18+: Saturday, November 14. 10:00 am – 12:00 pm.
  • Adults 18+: Saturday, December 12. 10:00 am – 12:00 pm.
  • Cost: $20 / GAC Members $17

Sign up HERE



Just Take a Break


Hopeful Birds 

Join us for a fun hand-building clay class inspired by Rita Vali’s Hopeful Birds clay project. This project was created to bring people together in these strange times of Covid-19. The way it works: A flock of ceramic birds is created and dispersed throughout the community, promoting engagement outside the home. Once found, community members are encouraged to interact with the bird by creatively building them a nest, finding another bird friend, making them a scarf, etc…  These tasks are accomplished in ones own creative way, documented with a photograph and then put back into the ‘wild’ for the next person to stumble upon.

Students in this class will be creating ceramic birds with the help of our instructor. Everyone will ave the opportunity to create a bird to keep and one to share with the community. All of the supplies will be provided and are included in the price. Instructor: Kristin Gruenberger. 

  • Wednesday, October 7. 6:00 – 8:00 pm. 
  • Cost: $20 / $17 Members.

Sign up HERE


Wood Burning

Find mindfulness and a sense of zen in this single day workshop. Students will be provided with the tools to draw and burn their own mandalas on wood. The process of wood burning is relaxing and provides an escape from everyday stress. No drawing experience necessary. Instructor: Chelsea Hoitt. 

  • Monday, October 19. 5:30 – 8:30 pm. 
  • Cost: $25 / $21.50 Members.

Sign up HERE


Meditation and Mandalas

Gather your whole family to paint mandalas on river stones with Boo Radford! This workshop will be instruction interspersed with meditation. There is something uniquely calming about focusing on the task immediately before you, allow yourself to create in stillness and with purpose. Quiet the mind while creating something beautiful. Instructor: Boo Radford. 

  • Pre-recorded virtual art class. Includes supplies, staff will arrange for kit to be picked up.
  • Cost: $25 / $21.50 Members. 

Sign up HERE


Acrylic Pouring

Treat yourself to something new and colorful! In this video, Artist and instructor, Gail Sovick, will walk you step by step through the process of mixing your fluid paints and using them to create your own, unique, abstract painting. Acrylic Pouring is fun for all ages, this project can be completed as a family or individually. Instructor: Gail Sovick.

  • Pre-recorded virtual art class. Includes supplies, staff will arrange for kit to be picked up.
  • Cost: $30 / $25.50 members.

Sign up HERE


Photo Transfer & Colors

Take a trip down memory lane and learn how to transfer your favorite black & white images to canvas by using a simple trick you can easily achieve at home! Once the image is transferred, add some color to the print using acrylic paints and pens to make it uniquely yours. Our instructor will walk you through the process in a quick online video you can access at any time and we will provide most of the supplies, all you need to do is join the fun. Instructor: Megan West.

  • Pre-recorded virtual art class. Includes supplies, staff will arrange for kit to be picked up.
  • Cost: $20 / $17 members.

Sign up HERE



Exploring Your Emotions


Dance Your Heart Out ~ (All Ages)

In this class students will explore emotion through movement. Learn to express yourself and release your feelings in a nonjudgmental environment through a choreographed series of movements and fun activities. We’ll explore different dance inspired exercises that help you become more in tune with your inner self. No dance experience required. This is a great class for all ages, parents and kids, partners, friends or to explore by yourself. Classes held safely in person in the GAC Dance Studio. Sign up for just one session or join us for all three! Instructor: Alexandria Rodriguez.

  • Tuesday, October 13. 11:00 am – 12:00 pm.
  • Saturday, November 7. 4:00 – 5:00 pm.
  • Cost: $10 session / $8.50 Members. 

Sign up HERE


Finding the Well of your Creativity ~ A Writing Course ~ (Ages 16+)

Weekend Intensive

Join us in cultivating tools for creativity and well-being. In order to access our creativity, we must be willing to look into the murky waters of ourselves. This class begins to lay the foundation for a healthier self, whether you are experiencing stress, fear, sadness… GREAT those are the murky waters and this class is FOR YOU. This Intensive class has a specific focus on using writing as a tool to create space for creativity and healing to transpire. We will try a variety of different techniques to help you access the well of your creativity. These techniques include integrating meditation and contemplation, clearing mental/emotional blocks with Free Form writing,  and the power of using visual and auditory writing prompts. At the end of this intensive, you will have four unique mediation techniques, the ability to remove limiting beliefs whether mental or emotional, and a set of tools to implement in your own life that allow you to return to your well and draw up ideas and inspiration. Instructor: Paige Stewart.

  • Learn more on the four part series below.
  • Category: Exploring Emotions

Weekend Intensives:  Sign up HERE

November 7 & 8, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm (with a one hour lunch break).  

Cost: $80 / $68 Members


Part One: Gaining Clarity

The first step in any endeavor is to find clarity. In order to access our creativity we must be willing to look into the murky waters of ourselves. This class begins to lay the foundation for a healthier self, whether you are experiencing stress, fear, sadness… GREAT those are the murky waters and this class is FOR YOU.  This first class will begin with a quieting and centering of the self, and then we will use the Free Form Writing technique to begin to move through and illuminate mental/emotional blocks and begin to release them. This is a practice you can then use on your own, at any time. 

Part Two: Listening Deeply

We are gaining Clarity and now we must go deeper by Listening. This class will begin with a unique meditation and the setting of intentions, the goal of which is to further clarify what is currently going on, and what we are seeking to heal and create. Then poems will be read aloud specifically geared towards listening deeper, and each poem will have a unique writing prompt that will be the jumping off point to this writing technique. There is no assessment in this class, it is merely giving us another tool to gain clarity and go within. 

Part Three: Seeing Truly

To be able to see truly what is before us, and in us without illusion is real magic. This session will begin with a unique mediation technique to illuminate and center us. We will be looking at different works of art to expand our language of creating. We will explore composition and elements that together create theme and meaning in artwork. Then we will use our new ability to look at art and do an imaginative writing exercise. 

Part Four: The Wisdom of the Well

This Final session is infusing us with the wisdom that the well is always full, and everything can be used for inspiration and upliftment. This session will also begin with a unique meditation technique. By this 4th session we have integrated the use of Free Form Writing to remove mental/emotional blocks, we have the ability to listen deeply and respond, we have the ability to see truly and interpret, and now we will use all of this to create and solidify our leanings; that we have cultivated tools for creativity and well-being.



Earthen Lyricsim: Methods for Writing in Nature, Finding Rhythm in Your Prose (Adults 18+)

A Healing Through the Arts Writing & Music Program 

In this two hour workshop, you will spend time writing outdoors, drawing inspiration from the landscape. Then head indoors to explore the process of turning prose into song. Lizzy will teach exercises to strengthen and expand lyrical ideas, use rhythm as your guide, and develop your musical voice.

Instructor: Lizzy Plotkin.

  • Saturday, August 15, 2:00 – 4:00 pm.
  • OR Saturday, September 26, 10:00 – 12:00 pm
  • Cost: $20 / GAC members $17.50.

Sign up HERE

Learn about the Instructors!

Heidi Benson is a singer, storyteller, GACtor and painter as well as a practitioner of mindful breathing and sound healing at Integrative Therapies through GVH. She trained in singing and opera from early childhood through college, and since then has studied regenerative agriculture and nutrition, yoga, art, philosophy, story archetypes, energy work, breathing and meditative techniques, all while trying to understand and heal from trauma and anxiety. She also teaches voice lessons focusing on breathwork, confidence, and expressing emotions. She has been spending the last few years synthesizing her accumulated knowledge and personal healing journey into a compassionate method of performance healing: a combination of feeling emotions in a safe space created by soothing harmonies and visuals, attaining temporal and physical awareness through breath, and then examining and retelling our personal trauma story into a story of recovery through the use of creative mediums. She believes art and creativity have the power to make our deep problems and patterns observable and tangible. When we can bring those energies into the physical world we can then change them, and become more resilient to events beyond our control.”


Heather Hughes is an Actor/Director/Teaching Artist/Public Speaking Coach who loves finding the places where real life and our imaginations intersect.  Heather believes that the basic tenets of acting: being present, being honest, listening, and trusting yourself and your voice, translate to nearly every facet of human interaction and connection, and loves nothing more than helping people discover those strengths and abilities in themselves.


Jessica Vogan has been dancing since the age of three and has studied several different styles of dance.  She graduated from the International Baccalaureate High School Dance Program before Minoring in Dance at the University of Arizona and eventually moving to Gunnison for school where she has taught dance both at the Gunnison Arts Center as well as High Attitude Dance Academy.  Jessica currently works as a school counselor at Gunnison High School and holds a professional licensure in Mental Health Counseling.  She is passionate about bringing wellness to all aspects of people’s lives, and believes that movement is essential for healing, wellness, and happiness.    


Paige Stewart has her BA in Biopsychology and Clinical Psych and then went on to an MA program in Spiritual Psychology. She now works full-time as a Ceramic Sculpture Artist. She understands the importance of creativity and art as a means to heal and balance the self. She believes we are all inherently creators and each have a well of potential and energy that is always full but we as humans find impressive ways to block ourselves. Creating these classes is her gift to the Gunnison Valley, using techniques she learned in her Spiritual Psychology program as well as those she has cultivated as a practicing Artist. This program is dedicated to giving people a new set of tools and techniques to uplift and empower them.


Amber Butler is an undergraduate student at Western Colorado University pursing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting with a minor in English. She has been teaching at the Gunnison Art Center for a year and loves sharing art and creativity with the Gunnison community through her classes.  Amber enjoys painting, playing with cat Malcom, journaling, and spending time with her friends and family whenever she can. She also loves the way the environment changes so beautifully with every season in Gunnison and she is grateful of the appreciation for art and art education within this valley.


Kristin Gruenberger is a full time ceramic artist in Gunnison. She holds a BFA in Ceramics from Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her work and process ignites the imagination and evokes a sense of play and wonderment. Her workshops focus on playful technique and exploration rather than perfection, encouraging students to connect with the clay and go with the flow of their own creative process. She currently teaches workshops on form and surface at the Gunnison Art Center and Art Students League of Denver.


Alexandria Rodriguez: Originally from Texas, Alexandria has been dancing since she was 5 years old. She knew that being on stage was where she belonged and quickly fell in love with the competition background. Alex spent all 4 of her High School years as apart of the Central High School Drill Team in Keller Texas. While on the team she served as Vice President her sophomore year and Senior Lieutenant her senior year. She has received numerous awards for solo’s and choreography. After High School, Alexandria attended Tarrant County College where she was apart of the Movers Unlimited Dance Company for 2 years. After receiving her Associates she attended the University of North Texas where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance with an emphasis in choreography.

Alex has taught and performed all around the DFW area along with other places in the U.S. Once she graduated, Alex found her love for aerial arts. Adding aerial to her resume opened up more artistic opportunities for her locally and nationally. Alexandria is trained in ballet, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, modern, lyrical, aerial silks, corde de lisse and Spanish web. She has taken part in Millennium Dance Complex Summer Intensives in California, trained with Rain Anya of Paper Doll Militia Aerial Company, attended the American College Dance Festival at Sam Houston State University, performed for big events such as Bud Light Whatever USA, Lights All Night New Year’s Eve Festival, and the Dallas Mavericks Charity Ball. Along with dance and aerial, Alex is also a certified Barre teacher, Spin Instructor, and is Coach of the Western Colorado University Dance Team. When Alex isn’t dancing, she enjoys spending time with her “Wolfpack” and finding her place in this special Valley.


More amazing instructors info to come!