Taking the executive director role at The Art Base is a full-circle moment for Lisa DeLosso. After moving to the Roaring Fork Valley in 2017, she became “intimately involved” with the Basalt nonprofit community arts center by attending exhibitions, workshops and the annual fundraising gala. She added, “Art is really important to me, and supporting my community is very important to me.”
Starting in her new capacity on Jan. 3, DeLosso leaves Aspen Public Radio, where she spent the last three and a half years, most recently as the director of development and strategic partnerships. Previously, she spent two years as the Aspen Art Museum’s development director before moving into the chief development officer role.
DeLosso’s predecessor Skye Skinner was appointed executive director at The Art Base in 2020 after serving two years in the interim position. Skinner notably led the organization’s move from its former Basalt Library digs to its current spacious location on Midland Avenue.
Acknowledging that Skinner leaves behind a solid organizational foundation, DeLosso observed, “She’s done such an incredible job over the past few years, she deserves to have a wonderful next chapter.”
Growing up in a southern coastal community in New Jersey, DeLosso received her undergraduate degrees from Pennsylvania State University in art education and art history and earned a master’s degree in art education from the University of Texas at Austin. She also taught art to kindergarteners and created a science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) curriculum for summer camp participants.
Her move to Colorado came at a time when she was ready for change. Motivated by a love for the outdoors, she wanted to live where access was more readily available. “When I started looking into Colorado, I was delighted to be able to end up on the Western Slope. I don’t think I would have been nearly as happy in a place like Denver or Fort Collins, and that is no dig to the Front Range communities.”
What The Art Base does very well, DeLosso said, is provide “a wonderful space for people of all ages to create, experiment and explore.”
Their five-month-long Claudette Carter ARTMentors program pairs young artists with an experienced local artist, culminating in an exhibition at The Art Base. “You’re teaching students who are considering what their career is going to look like; that the arts can actually be a career for you, and how to create a space that’s viable to make that profitable and meaningful in somebody’s career development. It’s huge and important. It’s very near and dear to my heart,” DeLosso said.
Breaking down barriers to accessibility, The Art Base offers scholarships for programs and camps: no one is turned away because of an inability to pay.
An artist herself, DeLosso will be exhibiting work at Carbondale Arts’ 44th Annual Valley Visual Art Show, which opens at The Launchpad on Jan. 20. Her primary mediums are watercolor drawing and acrylic painting, but she has started getting into linocuts (linoleum printmaking) “so that I can train my brain to think in that kind of negative space,” she explained.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, DeLosso said she needed to reconnect with her creative side. Time spent creating art allowed her “to mitigate the scary news constantly coming our way. I got into my flow state by practicing art, and I’ve learned as well to let go of the perfection aspect of it and to understand and embrace the imperfection.”
A self-professed dog lover, DeLosso’s rescue pup, Trudy, is a pug-dachshund mix, who she described with a laugh as “kind of hilarious.” Growing up, she raised guide dogs for the blind, stating that “accessibility is very important to me.”
Carrying forward The Art Base’s mission to “foster creative expression in the visual arts for all ages and abilities,” DeLosso explained her advantage “to see it from the outside and now being on the inside, which will inform a lot of my work.”
DeLosso said The Art Base team is “highly competent, and they’re great people. I already feel very welcomed by them.” She added, with an air of excitement in her voice, “I think we’re going to create a lot of magic together.”