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“A Buena Vista Art Legacy” – Collection of Grant Heilman and Conrad Nelson Fundraiser Art Auction

By Terry Stevens

Chaffee Arts is proud to announce a live art auction and sale on July 15 & 16, 2023

at the Heritage Museum Courthouse Gallery, 506 East Main Street, Buena Vista. The proceeds from

the event will benefit both Chaffee Arts and the Heritage Museum. On July 15 at 5:00 – 6:30 pm a

preview party will be held for those who would like to see the art prior to the live auction at 6:30.

Refreshments catered by Sorelle’s will be served at the preview party and the event is open to the

public. Entry to preview party is $5.00 and on Sunday regular museum entry fee applies. The

Courthouse Gallery will also be open on Sunday, July 16 from 11am – 4 pm for purchase of art that

was not sold at the auction. There will be over 70 pieces of art for sale with approximately 20 of

those included in the live art auction.

The collection of fine art has been donated by Conrad Nelson and it spans several decades with art

from both local and nationally known artists. Conrad’s husband, Grant Heilman, collected art over

many years and a great selection of those pieces will be up for auction. Grant and his first wife

Marjorie were also active in the Pennsylvania art scene and many pieces in this auction were part of their joint collection. Grant Heilman and his second wife, Barbara Whipple, were instrumental in the founding of Chaffee Arts in 1985 and supported the Buena Vista art scene for many years. There will also be a Barbara Whipple piece up for auction at the event.

Edward Alloy, a well-known Colorado auctioneer, has agreed to be the emcee and auctioneer for the event. Ed graduated from Continental Auctioneer School in 2004 and is a Certified Auction

Appraiser. Participants must register when they arrive in order to bid on the art pieces and the live

event should prove to be a lot of fun for all who attend! There will also be framed and unframed art

for sale in addition to the auctioned items and the prices will vary over a wide range to meet the

budget of any interested art lover.

“It is my wish that Grant’s collection benefit Chaffee Arts and the Heritage Museum since he was so dedicated to supporting the Buena Vista art scene”, stated Conrad Nelson who has made all this fine art available for sale. Conrad is an accomplished artist who works mainly in mixed media and several of her pieces will also be included in the auction and sale.

Grant Heilman’s legacy in Buena Vista goes back many years. When Grant married Barbara

Whipple, his second wife,

moved to Buena Vista in the early ’70s. Once settled in Buena Vista Barbara and Grant founded Chaffee County Council on the Arts (Chaffee Arts). They set it up, funded it, and along with other local artists and art lovers, started the arts organization that is still

active and provides support for the local art scene. Each year there was an Open Awards Art Show,

which continues to this day, that drew many artists to Buena Vista and Chaffee County. The original location for the group was the Courthouse Gallery at the Heritage Museum (where the art show is staged today) but the brutal stairs hampered a lot of people. Grant contributed the funds for the elevator along with Glenn and Dorothy McGowan. Barbara contributed the lighting fixtures which illuminate the space to this day. Barbara died in 1989 and Grant married his third wife, Conrad Nelson in 1993. Conrad became active in Chaffee Arts, served on the Board, and contributed financially to the organization. Grant died in 2014, however, the volume of art he collected with his first wife Marjorie, second wife Barbara, and third wife Conrad, makes up the sampling of the art that will be auctioned at this event.

Terry Stevens and Conrad Nelson are Co-Chairs for the art auction and committee members include Lyndsay Bertram, Rae Farrar, Suzy Kelly, Susy Ritch, and Lisa Wagner.


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