May Featured Artists, Gary and Jeaneen McLaren

Gary and Jeaneen McLaren are featured artists for May 2016 at the Valley Art Co-op Gallery and Shop, 925 1st Avenue, Monte Vista, Colorado. A public reception will be held for them on Saturday, May 21, 2016 from 3 to 6. Light refreshments will be served.


Gary McLaren grew up in the Monte Vista area says, “I love this place so much that I keep coming back.” McLaren learned to love art in high school. “Our art teacher took the time to teach us all forms of art. I have worked in pottery, clay sculpting, metal smithing, pencil and charcoal drawing, oil and acrylic painting, photography and many more.”

McLaren had some success as an artist when he was stationed in California for the Air Force but when his work was stolen, he lost heart, though he “maintained some interest through the years making things for family and friends.”

McLaren says that, “A few years back I picked up a piece of wood and began carving. I began carving on old cedar fence posts. It was pretty amazing to watch the transformation. Now I have fallen in love with taking old ‘used up’ wooden things and turning them into things to love and appreciate.”

He has also studied some old woodcarving traditions that McLaren has found to be,  “…worthy of revival such as the ‘welsh love spoons’, which for many years was a way for the suitor to woo his lady and her family with his skills.”

Welsh Wedding Spoons, Handcarved, Walnut by Gary McLaren
Welsh Wedding Spoons, Hand-carved by Gary McLaren

McLaren also custom carves wedding cake toppers, headboards and anything else that someone may dream up.

Of his carving, McLaren says, “I hope to inspire some young woodcarvers in this community.”


Jeaneen McLaren is a native of Monte Vista. She grew up on a farm near Sargent. The wide variety of Jeaneen’s work reflects her life-long background in some of the more old-fashioned domestic arts — such as the nearly lost art of tatting!

“Because of living on a farm, 4-H was a big part of my growing up years. I learned to crochet, sew, cook, do home preserving and much more that has carried over to my adult life. For the past few years, I have been involved with the San Luis Valley Prayer Shawl Ministry making and giving numerous creations to those who are suffering from illness or loss.”

Jeaneen also knits, crochets and makes beautiful hand-stamped, die-cut and collaged greeting cards. In the Valley Art Co-op Gallery and Gift Shop you can find a wide range of useful and beautiful things made by Jeaneen — everything from crocheted soap-savers, ingenious soap holder and wash-cloths in one — to warm hats, mittens and scarves for people of all ages.

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Jeaneen also makes many kinds of jewelry and says of her love for making this kind of wearable art, “Recently I’ve been rock-hounding with friends and as a result I have fallen in love with making jewelry.” Jeaneen uses all of her various skills to make necklaces, bracelets and earrings.



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