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Studio Visit with Crystal Hartman
LOCATION: Durango, Colorado

Fine artist, writer and jeweler, Crystal Hartman, is the first studio visit I’ve done with an artist I didn’t know. I researched artists in the Durango area and came across Crystal’s blog. I contacted her to see if she would be interested in an interview and luckily she had time to meet with me while I was in Colorado. I ended up talking to Crystal for hours. She was so easy to talk to and we discussed everything from local food to shipping artwork. I asked her what it was like to support herself as a full-time artist in a small town. Durango, although it has an artsy vibe, has a limited amount of opportunities for local artists. She said she would run into people in town that would say they are artists but rarely see any art from them. In 2009 she decided it was time to change this and she put together the first Durango Open Studio tour. For two years she produced the Durango Open Studio tours but found it took her away from producing her own art, now the event is controlled by Denise Leslie, publisher of Arts Perspective magazine. Hartman has found a way to leave a lasting impression on the Durango art community.

Crystal Hartman's Durango Studio ExteriorThe exterior of Crystal Hartman’s Durango studio. The painting hanging is a work in progress, the artist wants her pieces to be infected by their environment.

Crystal Hartman's studio interior.

Crystal Hartman's studio, paintings in progress.Crystal has several work spaces in her compact studio. She uses this wall for a few paintings in progress. Notice the balance in the color contrast of the two large pieces.

Artist Crystal Hartman's Durango studio interior.

What is the weirdest item in your studio?

An old jar filled with coal picked up at a closed down mine outside of Paonia.

What is your favorite tool in the studio?

That depends on the day, a quart of matte white house paint Tuesday night, a large box of surgical blades come Wednesday…


Crystal Hartman is an artist, writer and jeweler. Her videos, prints, and paintings have been presented at sites such as the Florean Museum -Baia Mare, Romania, the National Palace of Culture -Sophia, Bulgaria, and the Center for Contemporary Culture Barcelona -Spain. Raised in Durango, Colorado, she interned with painter Stanton Englehart and plastic surgeon Dr. Ronald Ritz before attending The University of Colorado at Boulder, receiving her BFA in Printmaking in 2005 with an emphasis on International Affairs and Installation Sculpture.  She studied curation and arts enrichment with Sonnet Hanson in the Contemporary Arts Education Department of the Denver Art Museum.  In 2005, she received a UROP Grant to study Femininity in Argentine Society, which led her to foreign travel and the study of voice in public art.  Hartman filmed for Null Skateboards and worked installing contemporary public art in Barcelona, Spain and Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Returning to Colorado and painting, she received the Merwin Altfield Memorial Award for Storytelling in the Arts, she is a Signature Member of the National Watercolor Society and founder of Durango Open Studios.

Artist Statement:

I’m not sure what I fell in love with first, the colors, the pigments, the tools we use to put them on, what we put them on… I am a printmaker without a press, I consider my mediums and the ideas paired with them. Creating is about presence. Physically it can be anything we want; psychologically, I do it, and love it, for the feeling of emptiness. In that space, there is growth. With an emphasis on the role of individuals in contemporary culture, the balance of aggression and transformation, and storytelling, growth is what I paint, draw, sculpt and film.


Crystal Hartman, The Chiropractor, acrylic and oil on canvas Crystal Hartman, The Chiropractor, acrylic and oil on canvas

Crystal Hartman, Nectar of the Gods, chalk, charcoal, ink & watercolorCrystal Hartman, Nectar of the Gods, chalk, charcoal, ink & watercolor

Crystal Hartman, Temptation and Desire, watercolorCrystal Hartman, Temptation and Desire, watercolor

Crystal Hartman studio, wax for sculpting jewelry.

The green block is Crystal Hartman’s favorite piece of wax for sculpting jewelry. She uses the lost-wax casting technique to design her jewelry. The sculpture below the wax block is the beginning of a piece similar to the mookaite pendant, Feathers on Fall, below).

Crystal Hartman, Ruby Radish Pendant, sterling and rubyCrystal Hartman, The Radish, sterling and ruby

Crystal Hartman, Feathers on Fall, mookaite and sterling pendantCrystal Hartman, Feathers on Fall, mookaite and sterling pendant

  1. Malley H (Reply) on Tuesday 6, 2011

    I really enjoyed this article!! Glorious jewelry, wonderful paintings. Very interesting cozy little studio. Keep up the beautiful work!!! M

  2. Dillon Hartman (Reply) on Tuesday 6, 2011

    Great article…. the pictures of your studio came out good. Enjoyed it very much.

  3. […] for an interview that turned discussion of art, process and life…  Read the article here: This entry was posted in Press and tagged American, Contemporary Art, Crystal Hartman, Culture […]

  4. Galina (Reply) on Tuesday 6, 2011

    Crystal, you are very talented.