Updated: May 30, 2021
In the summer of 1970, three recent college art grads were sharing a beer in Vail, Colorado.
The basic concept of Summervail is to bring together a small number of students and instructors who can work together on individual and group projects in the related arts. Those involved will have a close and informal atmosphere in which to work. Each student may take a maximum of two classes and each instructor will teach only one class. This should allow relatively deep involvement in projects for the two week period. Students and instructors will also be encouraged to participate in any class or seminar they are not directly involved with, which hopefully will stimulate an interrelation of ideas and thoughts. Classes may range from small rap sessions to wilderness trips to large group projects. Planned projects include; an open air theatre, production of the summer edition of Afternoon magazine, an amateur rodeo, and an art carnival. [Class Handout, Continuing Education Division, Colorado Mountain College, 1971]
In the summer of 1970, three recent college art grads were sharing a beer in Vail, Colorado. Jim Cotter and Dan Taleen had opened a jewelry shop a couple of years previously and Randy Milhoan was a recent resident. Although Vail had been incorporated as a town in 1966, it had yet to make much traction overcoming its image as a ski resort. Business was slow - summers were dead. Randy floated the idea of starting some sort of summer arts program as a way of attracting artists to the area as well as boosting the local economy.
Randy had learned that Colorado Mountain College was interested in establishing classes in Vail. The group thought that CMC might be interested in offering art classes as a part of their Continuing Education curriculum to be staffed by visiting artists. A few calls to friends around the country inquiring of their interest in teaching these classes elicited an enthusiastically positive response.
Colorado Mountain College was agreeable, so the first Summervail Workshop in Art and Critical Studies debuted the summer of 1971 featuring 17 faculty teaching 14 classes to an enrollment of 248 students.