Sallyann Paschall: Art is where she sees it

Article by Ed Quillen

Local artists – April 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

FOR A GEOLOGIST, Sallyann Paschall draws and paints exceptionally well, and she doesn’t specialize in renderings of rocks.

Actually, she’s not a geologist, even though she holds a master’s degree in geology from the University of New Mexico. She’s a full-time artist, which was her goal for as long as she can remember.

“My education took a few strange turns,” she laughs, “but I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a little girl in Oklahoma. I don’t think I ever consciously thought of it as ‘art’ — it was just what I did.”


What she does now ranges from charcoal sketches to oil on sandpaper. “I suppose you could use the sandpaper you get at the hardware store,” she explains, “but this is sandpaper made for art — it gives the painting a texture, a third dimension that you don’t get on canvas.”

Her paintings can be vivid with strong colors and lines, or rather muted and impressionistic. They can focus on one plant, or encompass a vast panorama, or move indoors as a figure study.

“I guess I am hard to categorize,” she agrees. “It’s hard to find something artistic that I don’t enjoy.”


Well, take that back a little. She never enjoyed all the business aspects of running a gallery, since “that takes time and energy away from what you want to be doing, your art.”

And yet, with Salida developing into an art market, it’s a good place to have a gallery. So last fall, she joined with five other artists to form “Sackett Street Co-op Artists” with a gallery called art-tic’-u-la-tion next door to the Victoria Hotel & Tavern.

The other artists are Conrad Nelson, Fay Golson, Dan Downing, Meredith Nelson, and Judith Hilmer.

“We split up the work associated with the gallery,” she explains, “so that none of us has to do too much. For instance, I’m in charge of hanging the works and the general appearance of the gallery. Dan handles the bookkeeping. Somebody else handles consignments, and so forth. So far, it’s worked pretty well.”

So far, sales are ahead of the projections they made in their business plan, “but summer will be make or break time.”


The only mistake so far appears to be the name of the group. Salida trivia buffs have pointed out that the old tenderloin thoroughfare, known as Front Street until the 1950s, is really named Sackett Avenue, not Sackett Street.

“I wish we’d known that before we incorporated,” Paschall laughs. “But if that’s the biggest mistake we make, we’ll be doing all right.”

Although she didn’t move to Chaffee County to live full-time until about a decade ago, “it’s always seemed like home to me.”

Her family, the Milams, have owned property west of Buena Vista since the 1920s, and she spent her summers there. “I loved it, this area is so beautiful, although it wasn’t always an easy place to be a kid.”

She recalled acquiring a fake ID when she was a teenager, then going down to Johnson Village to buy some beer for a party that night. “Before I got home, my parents had received two phone calls from people who had seen me buying the beer. It doesn’t matter what’s on your fake ID — in a small town, people know who you are.”

Her Oklahoma roots go deep, back to the Trail of Tears when the Cherokee were expelled from Georgia in 1839 and marched to present-day Oklahoma. “Sallyann” comes from her great-great-grandmother, the sister of Will Rogers, and she’s a member in good standing of the Cherokee Nation.

That gives her entree into shows and galleries that feature Native American artists, although that can be a straitjacket for some artists.

“There’s an attitude that if you’ve got Indian heritage, you’re supposed to work with nothing except turquoise and silver, or make only a certain kind of pots,” she says.

“As an artist, you should be free to do what interests you. In ways, I’ve got the best of both worlds — I can enter the regular art market as well as the specialized Native American markets.”

And she likes where she lives now. “There’s so much I want to paint around here. That’s the good part.

“As for the bad part — well, we have great light here, except it can change so quickly. I’ll get up in the morning, walk to something I want to paint, and just as soon as I’m set up and working, the light changes. Even if there aren’t any clouds, you’ve got only a couple of hours at best. But it wouldn’t be art if there wasn’t a challenge.”

Ed Quillen’s first and last art class was in 10th grade, and he wishes he’d found time to learn to draw.