2017 pARTy Testimonial Speeches

We are pleased to share the speeches that were given during the dinner portion of the 2017 pARTy at the Art Base. As great testimonials of the power of the arts, these speeches helped us raise over $40,000 in the live paddle raise. These individuals and their words warm our hearts and we hope they will warm yours too!

Executive Director Genna Moe and speaker Leah Potts. Photo by Jeremy Swanson.

Leah Potts
Adult Student

Good evening,

My name is Leah Potts, and I live here in Aspen.

I’m honored to be here and happy to be a part of the Art Base family.

This time a year ago I took my first art class in 20 years here at The Art Base.

My story goes something like this… I graduated from college with a fine art and graphic design degree. 3 months later, at the young age of 23, I hit a tree in a skiing accident that left me paralyzed from the neck down. With no use of my arms or legs, the doctors actually gave me little hope of recovery.

Art was instantly set aside as I had bigger issues to deal with and therapy became my daily life. Learning to sit up and brushing my teeth became the focus for my survival.

As time went on, and after a lot of hard work and intensive physical therapy (don’t sell yourself short, I have seen how hard you work at the Aspen Club!) I began to regain the use of my limbs; I was skiing again and living a weirdly awkward great life.

But something was missing—my art. For me there is more to life than physical therapy, acupuncture and learning to walk again. I needed an outlet and a way to express what had happened and what was still happening to me.

As the new year was approaching I made a list of goals that I’d like to accomplish over the year and one of them was to take an art class. I took several classes but was left unfulfilled, everything a little too crafty, until I found the Art Base and Meridy Volz, an abstract painter.

I swear I was just calling for information when Holly answered the phone. Before I had an opportunity to back out I was registered with a scholarship and 3 months to think about it!

The class, well it set me free on many levels—to have access, instruction, support, other students for motivation, inspiration and community, a place to get out of my head and create, but most importantly for me, it was another avenue to heal.

What amazed me was the reality that I hadn’t painted in 20 years, I was now using my non-dominant left hand.  It was challenging at first, I wanted to quit the first day, but the teacher and class mates encouraged me to keep at it. Ultimately, it was very rewarding to see the same expressive line that I had witnessed with my right all those years before.  The art filled my heart with renewed hope, desire, passion and connection.

I feel in many ways that getting interested and excited about art again has helped me come full circle in my healing. I have even traveled for classes and have had several pieces commissioned!

We all have our own healing stories that come through in our art. This brings children, adults and families together as a community.

We are here today because we believe we must continue to support the arts with our donations and sponsorships so that arts may continue to educate, inspire and allow us to have a voice to freely express our thoughts, hearts and souls.

Thank you for coming tonight and for supporting this special organization. It changed my life, I hope it can change yours.


Genna Moe and Camila Mellin Gamino, a student at Basalt Elementary School. Photo by Jeremy Swanson.

Camila Mellin Gamino
Grade 4, Basalt Elementary School


My name is Camila Mellin Gamino.

I am a fourth grader at Basalt Elementary School. I was born in Aspen Colorado and Spanish is my main language.

I first came to the Art Base with my classroom on a field trip. I liked that we learned to look at the art close-up and faraway. When we stood far away we could see figures in the art! During the year, I bring my family back to see the shows so I can share with them the art I see in class.

When I came here with my class I learned about the afterschool classes and summer art camps. I love getting messy and painting things so I knew I wanted to come back.

I loved learning that art can be made out of anything. I learned that I can make art at home with the supplies I already have!

It felt really good to get a scholarship for a summer art camp because I always wanted to do art in the summer!  My parents work a lot in the summer and art is more fun than summer school! In my art camp I loved painting and designing a lemonade stand. I donated some of the money I made to help sick dogs because I want to be a veterinarian when I grow up.

I want more kids to be involved in the Art Base and also have the opportunity to come here in the summer and after school. When I am stressed, art helps me concentrate more and I like the Art Base because it helps people through art and I like people.

Thank you!


Basalt Middle School Principal Jennifer Ellsperman. Photo by Jeremy Swanson.

Jennifer Ellsperman
Basalt Middle School Principal

My name is Jennifer Ellsperman and I am the principal at Basalt Middle School. I am grateful to be here tonight amongst such creativity and generosity and to support the Art Base. I have experienced firsthand the benefits of these artistic opportunities through a number of classes I’ve been able to take. We ALL need art.

There are so many beneficial programs that impact our students. The afterschool art clubs are very popular—students have built and decorated skateboards, authored and illustrated comic books, and designed cookbooks during the Art of Cooking.

I like that in addition to clubs and classes for our students, the Art Base also partners with teachers and other organizations to create programs for whole grade levels. From arts career internships with Youth Entity to “artful outing” field trips and the Keith Haring inspired murals—students are experiencing creative outlets in their lives to reduce stress, engage their brains in different ways, and explore their thoughts and opinions more deeply.

One of my former students was privileged to be part of the Claudette Carter Art Mentors program and spent 9 months with a professional artist culminating in a solo show. She is now heading to college to study art therapy.

I can’t begin to share all of the ways the Art Base is changing our students’ lives. Thank you for supporting such an important organization that continues to grow and find new ways to engage our community in creative artistic endeavors.

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