One of the largest “Colonies”

Brief by Central Staff

Local art scene – August 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine

We’ve lost track of how many art galleries Salida has, and any count would be obsolete before we could publish it anyway, since new ones appear constantly.

It must be a considerable number, though, as evidenced by a short article in the June edition of Lapidary Journal, a national monthly magazine which covers gems, jewelry arts, beads, and minerals:


“In the unlikely setting of the Upper Arkansas River Valley lies the town of Salida, Colorado, home to one of the largest art colonies in the U.S.” with “jewelry designers, painters, sculptors, ceramists, fiber artists, and photographers … at more than 50 galleries, studios, and shops in downtown Salida.”

This inspired one question: Why is this valley an “unlikely” setting? After all, for more than a century, the Upper Arkansas produced tons of metals and rocks, the stuff of lapidary art. And another: Why is the word “Soho” used in reference to art districts?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word first appeared in print in 1397 in England as a hunting cry, as with “Soho! The partridges rise yonder, milord.”

For some reason not immediately apparent, the name got applied to a section off London, according to Enclopædia Britannica. That district was developed in the 17th century and attracted immigrants from France and Italy.

They opened restaurants and the area gained a bohemian flair, later becoming home to poet William Blake and economist Karl Marx.

In New York in the New World, the new Soho is SoHo, for a part of Manhattan South of Houston Street in Greenwich Village — another immigrant zone where artists and writers settled.

And now that Salida has been annointed Soho West, we need to find something for it to stand for — perhaps Salida Ordinances Have Outlawed Watering, Expectorating, Standing, and Teenagers.