Sylvia Johnson assists artist Reina Katzenberger. Photo by James Steindler

To Reina Katzenberger, art is more than a medium expressing one creative’s mind; it’s about community. That is why the local artist is inviting anyone and everyone to visualize and take part in her creative process. 

“Art in Process” is a working exhibit at The Art Base in Basalt. Katzenberger has transformed the gallery into a working studio. “This is a gorgeous gallery space, so to take it over and kind of make a mess is an honor and really exciting,” the graphic design artist stated. 

Immediately upon walking into The Art Base one enters Katzenberger’s functioning studio. There she works on-site with her mobile printmaking equipment. The hardwood floors are neatly covered by thin cardboard connected with blue painters’ tape. Soothing music plays in the background and, if you’re so lucky, Katzenberger’s pup Oswald will be your personal greeter. The artist welcomes communication, ideas and participation. 

“To have it be unscripted was the goal,” said Katzenberger. “to see who else shows up and set the intention to be open to conversation, like real conversation, and to work on listening, being present and responsive to the topics that come up and peoples’ ideas about creativity.” 

On the day of The Sopris Sun’s visit to the makeshift studio, it appeared that from those conversations and exchange of ideas came an evolving piece within the gallery taking form. Being at the pinnacle of peoples’ minds, the topics of health and breathing manifested in this particular piece. “This mural is developing naturally,” stated Katzenberger. “Through conversations and talking about breathing and the interconnectedness of all things, a big pair of lungs [began to take shape]. 

This theme of an “inextricable link between all things and that we all are connected” has surfaced in Katzenberger’s works before. On top of this, she recognized how the pandemic has shaped discussion in the community, including among those who have meandered into The Art Base lately. “Breathing is such an intimate act, and we all share the same air,” she explained. “[It’s] the web between all things.” 

Katzenberger also finds inspiration in the study of typography, which had a place in this piece. “Letters together make words that represent ideas,” the artist mused. If only it were that simple, but art is dynamic and, more often than not, difficult to explain. 

“I’m really interested in the coincidences of ideas and images that convey and express something,” she stated. “When they coincide, that’s when people get struck by creativity and art — like you take a second glance or it catches your breath. When that happens, it’s because there is a fleeting moment of that connection happening in a beautiful and unexpected way.” 

Katzengerger believes the same is true when it comes to literature. “There’s a throughline of poems and novels that I love. It can be so poignant or meaningful to any individual that it stays with them. I think that those words and that experience inform my visual artwork, but I think it happens in writing too. You have a collection of words and ideas that come together and they become more than the sum of their parts and express something really important.” 

Katzenberger has a long history with The Art Base. As a teen, she witnessed its inception as the Wyly Community Art Center in Woody Creek. In fact, Katzenberger’s mother, Deborah Jones, was its founder. “I think having a mother who was an artist, and also an art educator, it was always accessible and part of life and learning.”

Katzenberger runs her own business, The Project Shop, at Studio for Arts + Works, aka SAW, in Carbondale. Hers is a creative space that provides hands-on opportunities for artists to delve into mixed-media application of traditional print methods like letterpress, relief and screenprinting.

Passersby can stop at The Art Base, Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m., to see Katzenberger at work and perhaps lend a hand, or at least a thought. Those who can’t make it in-person can tap into a live stream of “Art in Process” by going to 

The closing reception will take place on Friday, Feb. 4 from 5 to 7 p.m. There, the pieces created during the exhibit will be available for purchase.