Artes del Valle was started in 1973 by five Chicana women, assisted for its first ten years by sisters of the Order of Divine Providence. We are caretakers of an old Catholic Church and ten acres of land in La Garita in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, The church is open during warm months as a center for display, celebration, and sales. Roads are often impassible in winter, and we want to expand our market beyond the local area.
Artes has received funds from the Colorado Historical Society to renovate its building. As work progressed, items which had previously disappeared from the property began to reappear, including the five hundred pound bell (Rosita) and several statues of saints.
A long range goal is to make the site a "Living Museum," to demonstrate traditional craft production, agriculture and other practices.( The first crop has been bolita beans.) An herb walk with RDLN visitors and Mrs. Valdez demonstrates another kind of activity that will be featured.
The church has potential as a retreat center, a concept tested one summer by a writer-in-residence, who also helped keep the church open to the public, and by RDLN visitors who met there for several days, sleeping on air mattresses, holding meetings and workshops, and enjoying the peace and beauty of the area.