When Gail and Bill Frasier move to Loveland the end of this month, it’ll take a crane, forklift and flatbed truck – literally!
Gail’s kiln for firing pottery is something that’s become part of her life, and there’s no way she’s leaving it behind.
It wasn’t until college as a math major that she discovered a liking for and a talent in art, a skill she cultivated as a stay-at-home mom. She found herself teaching pottery for the recreation district in Thornton and learned that teaching gave her more experience and expanded her knowledge of the art. Joining arts associations provided the camaraderie, encouragement and reinforcement she was seeking as a young mother.
Evergreen has been their home since the late 1970s when the reputation of Jefferson County schools attracted them to migrate west of Denver, and Gail’s attraction to the mountain area caused them to investigate the small community of Evergreen.
“I felt like I’d come home – for sure I belonged in Colorado. I should have been here all along.” She’d grown up in Florida and begun her work life in St. Louis. Bill was from Loveland, CO.
As a potter, she started with functional pieces – mugs and kitchen implements – but more recently has concentrated on artistic, one-of-a-kind pieces that make a statement in a person’s home.
While throwing pots started as a diversion from raising children, she learned she could make a decent living at it. In fact, selling her pottery helped to put three kids through college. In the meantime, her dirty hands would serve a different purpose. “I would threaten to grab fighting kids with my dirty hands,” she confessed. “I wanted to talk to someone taller than 3 feet,” she admits and decided to join the Evergreen Artists Association, enjoying the opportunity to discuss art with others who had similar interests.
Most of the highlights of her time as an artist have come in one way or another from her affiliation with EAA where she has won some awards at crucial times, providing the impetus to go into galleries, first in Evergreen and later in Santa Fe, New Mexico as well as Crede, CO. Being accepted on six occasions into Loveland’s prestigious Sculpture in the Park represents the pinnacle of her career.
Her involvement at EAA led to life-long friendships and being recruited for other activities in the community like the All Night Party at Evergreen High School. The annual extravaganza had become an important effort in keeping students safe after prom night when too many students had died in car accidents previously. It was Laura Mehmert who got her involved initially, but she would later co-chair the event with Allyson Gottsman for two years in the early 1990s.
When her children were enrolled at Wilmot, she did the usual room mother thing but long after the children had left home, she and her husband served on the Wilmot Council where they started the Artists in Residence program in the 1990s. She was able to tap into her relationships in EAA to help make it successful.
Getting her hands dirty has been a proud trademark of Gail’s. She and her family have participated in numerous building projects for Habitat for Humanity in Mexico and Paraguay. And they made a family project of helping with cleanup in New Orleans after Katrina.
After raising three kids, she and her husband, Bill, decided it was time to fulfill old dreams of someday working with the Peace Corps. At age 60, the two applied for and were accepted into the volunteer program that assigned them to Jamaica for 24 months. Their training began in 2007, and they reported to the Caribbean island not long before Hurricane Dean wreaked havoc on “the land of wood and water.”
“I learned you can’t do anything in less than five years,” she said in summary of the experience. Their first year she and Bill learned that they were not cut out to teach children, but they prided themselves on sticking it out. The second year they devoted considerable time to building homes and working to establish signage at an extraordinary Botanical garden patterned after Kew Gardens in Britain. “The people couldn’t have been nicer,” she said of the experience, quickly following with, “I’ve never seen such poverty.”
Her volunteer work locally has ranged from Art for the Mountain Community (AMC) where he helped the organization expand its sculpture presence into Kittredge, to the Evergreen Animal Protective League (EAPL) where she’s helped for 20 years by answering phones and matching pets with owners.
When the Frasiers relocate to Loveland, Gail will be looking to find like-minded people with whom to share her interests. As for “digging in,” she plans a hiatus from volunteer work but will continue to get her hands dirty with the clay she molds into decorative pieces. She’s left her fingerprints on our community, and we’re proud to think she’ll be identifying herself as “from Evergreen.”