New Landscapes | Rural Art in Colorado’s Eastern Plains

Head to any museum in the world and you will find paintings, sculptures, and artifacts all representing what we view as art. Nonetheless, art doesn’t always have to exist in a museum. Art exists all around us, in many different forms. And for those who are willing to venture beyond the museum walls, art can also be found in the eastern plains of Colorado.

Most may not know (I didn’t until recently) but Colorado is home to an artistic movement called the M12 Collective. A group of award-winning inter-disciplinary group of artists, researchers, and writers living in Colorado who create what they call “context-based artworks, research projects, and education initiatives.” Their projects, which span all over the world from Colorado to Australia, focus on the rural lifestyle and its landscapes.

The project I had set out to see a few months back was The Last Chance Module Array. Located in Last Chance, CO, a town that got its name for being the “last chance” to fuel up and grab a quick bite before heading further east. A few miles south of the town’s intersection (HWY 36 & 71) is where the module is found.

Getting there

Wanting to capture the sculpture at sunrise I booked a night’s stay at The Inn at the Feed Store of Byers America, a little bed and breakfast in Byers, CO, about 30 minutes west of Last Chance. The inn actually served as the base of operations for the M12 project from 2011-2017. 

image of the Inn at Byers, CO

The Inn at the Feed Store of Byers America

That next morning I set out at 4:30 AM to capture this special spot in the world during the golden hour. Knowing what I was looking for, I found it easy to spot, even in the dark. But for those passing by, unaware of its existence, it could easily be overlooked.

image of M12 Collective project at sunrise

M12 Collective module

As I made my turn off onto the gravel road, I could see an array of what appeared to be old timber beams positioned in the middle of a grass field. Standing tall and proud were eight wooden squares, akin to pieces that might have been left behind after the burning of a barn or a small home. But as I approached and took the time to look closer one could see that this was no accident. Perfectly spaced, these wooden beams served a purpose. I couldn’t help but stand in admiration of its simplistic beauty and the story it was meant to tell.

image of M12 Collective Last Chance Module Array

Last Chance Module Array

According to the project’s creators, the Last Chance Module Array is meant to question the relationship, both negative and positive, of the natural and built landscape of the American High Plains. The openness of the plains is represented in the structure’s unobstructed installation and its many different vantage points.

Image of M12 Collective Last Chance Module Array

The Last Chance Module Array pays homage to the complex and oftentimes unexamined relationship with the land in a beautiful and simple way.

image of M12 Collective project

If you are looking to expand your visual art portfolio this is one spot you should put on your list.

To learn more about The Last Chance Module Array and the other projects from M12 Collective, view their studio online here.

And for more about traveling through Colorado be sure to visit my travel blog. 

This entry was posted in My Love for Colorado, Photography, Travel.