Ecology in Art with Brian Napier


We are excited to announce the Rocky Mountain Land Library’s second Summer Workshop at Buffalo Peaks Ranch:


This is a conceptually focused course discussing the role that artists can play in the rapidly evolving conversation with our environment. The course will dive into issues ecology, sustainability, and environmental activism through the lens of leading contemporary artists today. Students will have a chance to openly discuss strategies that can be used in the creation of ecological conscious art, as well was brainstorm their own ideas in how to make artwork dealing with the local environment of Colorado. This course will be split evenly between lecture, discussion, and hands on project drafting.

Saturday, June 10th, 10am to 4pm,  $50 class fee.



Rhythm II by Brian Napier

Brian Napier is a Denver artist whose work has been featured in several galleries, and in Westword, and Garo. Brian artist statement reads: “My work exists in the indifferent nature of nature. Examining the existential play of human beings and the debris left in our wake.”

A native of the Oklahoma plains, Brian moved to California where he quickly fell in love with his natural surroundings and with the Earth’s ability to relieve stress and create new perspective. — Kristopher Wright, Odessa

We’ll have plenty of thought-provoking books on hand for Brian’s workshop too!




“I don’t like to frame the work in a negative manner. It would be very easy for me to take this tragic material and display it in a tragic way. So, I try as hard as I can to play a neutral role in making the work, because I too am involved in this whole processes of consumption, destruction, and renewal.” — Brian Napier, from Odessa

Class in Session at Buffalo Peaks Ranch!


Sherrie York’s Illustrating Nature class doing some warm-up drawing exercises, 2016

The Land Library is very excited about the upcoming summer of workshops, classes and field studies at Buffalo Peaks Ranch. With programs on art, photography, writing, natural history, natural building, there is a lot to choose from.

We’re also thrilled to host the Land Library’s third Annual Summer Book Club at the ranch. This year’s selection is Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, a classic that is bound to generate a great discussion!

Take a look at our Summer Schedule, and start planning your next trip to South Park’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch!



Water & the Reverse Architecture of India’s Vanishing Stepwells


This has to be one of the most unique volumes in the Land Library’s Water collection– what a treasure! For several years author and photographer Victoria Lautman documented over 200 of India’s remarkable stepwells — water storage structures displaying magnificent engineering and great geometric beauty. Lautman’s The Vanishing Stepwells of India features 75 stepwells across India. She writes: “People don’t even know they’re there. They are hiding in plain sight.”

“It’s hard to imagine an entire category of architecture slipping off history’s grid, and yet that seems to be the case with India’s incomparable stepwells. Never heard of ‘em? Don’t fret, you’re not alone: millions of tourists – and any number of locals – lured to the subcontinent’s palaces, forts, tombs, and temples are oblivious to these centuries-old water-structures that can even be found hiding-in-plain-sight close to thronged destinations like Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi or Agra’s Taj Mahal.

But now, India’s burgeoning water crisis might lead to redemption for at least some of these subterranean edifices, which are being re-evaluated for their ability to collect and store water. With any luck, tourist itineraries will also start incorporating what are otherwise an “endangered species” of the architecture world.” Victoria Lautman


“Over the centuries, stepwell construction evolved so that by the 11th century they were astoundingly complex feats of engineering, architecture, and art.”


“Rudimentary stepwells first appeared in India between the 2nd and 4th centuries A.D., born of necessity in a capricious climate zone bone-dry for much of the year followed by torrential monsoon rains for many weeks. It was essential to guarantee a year-round water-supply for drinking, bathing, irrigation and washing, particularly in the arid states of Gujarat (where they’re called vavs) and Rajasthan (where they’re baoli, baori, or bawdi) where the water table could be inconveniently buried ten-stories or more underground.”


Helical Vav, Champaner, early 16th century: This simple, spiraling stepwell is so well hidden that it took the author several attempts to find it.


“By building down into the earth rather than the expected “up”, a sort of reverse architecture was created and, since many stepwells have little presence above the surface other than a low masonry wall, a sudden encounter with one of these vertiginous, man-made chasms generates both a sense of utter surprise and total dislocation. Once inside, the telescoping views, towering pavilions, and the powerful play of light and shadow are equally disorienting, while also making them devilishly difficult to photograph.”

For more on India’s stepwells, take a look at this short clip!

Chand Baori is a famous stepwell situated in the village Abhaneri near Jaipur in Indian state of Rajasthan. This step well is located opposite Harshat Mata Temple and is one of the deepest and largest step wells in India. It was built in 9th century and has 3500 narrow steps and 13 stories and is 100 feet deep.


Books, Empathy, and Earth Day 2017


The Land Library often refers to books as powerful tools to understand the places where we live. Books also seem to be a wonderful repository of empathy for others. Just being surrounded by books, we’re more likely to think beyond ourselves, feel what others might feel, imagine how other species live their lives. Perhaps even imagine the impact we have on our brilliant blue planet.

Here’s one of our favorite passages from Neil Gaiman, as he writes about the importance of books, libraries, and empathy:

For me, closing libraries is the equivalent of eating your seed corn to save a little money. They recently did a survey that showed that among poor white boys in England, 45% have reading difficulties and cannot read for pleasure. Which is a monstrous statistic, especially when you start thinking about it as a statistic that measures not just literacy but also as a measure of imagination and empathy, because a book is a little empathy machine. It puts you inside somebody else’s head. You see out of the world through somebody else’s eyes.

We love the spark of other lives that books such as these provide:


Empathy, joy and understanding gained from wildlife across the globe, and from around our neighborhoods!


With curiosity as our compass, we have a world to explore, sometimes just a few inches from our eyes.


Many an artist has found beauty in the simplest shapes on the landscape.


A sense of wonder, that sparks both empathy and poetry. Laying the seeds for love and concern for the planet on which we live.

We hope you have a wonderful Earth Day this Saturday, with time outdoors, perhaps a book at night. What will the year ahead be for our planet, and what can we do to help steer a good course ahead?

We’re Excited: Let the Summer Begin!


Looking up valley, toward Mount Silverheels in morning mist. photo by Jay Halsey

The Rocky Mountain Land Library is very excited about our Summer Schedule at Buffalo Peaks Ranch. Some favorites return from our first two summers, along with many new workshops, classes, and field courses — along with our third annual Summer Book Club. All will be announced on May 1st — stay tuned!

To give you a feel for what’s ahead this season, here is our first ranch workshop, taught by an accomplished Denver artist:


This daylong workshop will focus on the process of seeing and translating the experience of the landscape in simplified shapes and colors. You will explore a drawing technique that combines elements of collage, pencil line drawing and ink washes to emphasize space and movement within a landscape. This will be a outdoor workshop, with all materials included.

Saturday, May 27th, 10am to 4pm,  $50 class fee.


Meghan Wilbar received her BA from Knox College and her MFA from the New York Studio School. She has been awarded several fellowships for artist residencies and has her work in private and public collections. She currently lives and works in Denver. For more, view Meghan’s website here.

For Meghan, the landscape provides inspiration, emotional and spatial relationships, and an overall connection to the human experience. She aims to squeeze an expansive landscape into a compressed, tension-filled space. The result: the landscape’s own experience of reality. Each painting is conceived through a series of on-site drawings. The drawings extract form, movement, and space in simple shades of white, brown, and black. The process of painting integrates the shapes from the drawings into the dialogue of paint. The application of layers, washes, and drips of oil paint furthers the exploration of the emotive quality of the landscape.

“The natural world holds the key to abstraction through the dance between colliding forms and the interchange of negative and positive space, light and color. I use this natural abstraction to create paintings that evoke the experiences one has within one’s surroundings. The paintings are brief histories of moments constantly shifting, reorganizing to reveal the underlying structure in the landscape.” – Meghan Wilbar

For more information, and how to register, contact Jeff Lee at, 303-321-3574.

New Goal in sight: over 1,000 Backers!


The Rocky Mountain Land Library is thrilled to have reached our $125,000 Kickstarter goal. Thanks to all our remarkable backers (over 850 strong) we will be able to completely renovate the Cooks House. With that we’ll have two lodgings, a warm & wonderful kitchen, a large meeting space, and the ranch’s first library.

But with two full days to go in our campaign, we aren’t finished yet. We’ll keep reaching out to new & current backers to help us do even more at the ranch this summer.

Our new goal at the end of this exciting campaign is to bring even more people to the Land Library project.

We would love to gain over 1,000 backers by the end of this Friday! 

There are several manageable work projects that we are itching to accomplish this summer, including fixing up this cozy, donated caravan:


Along with a roomy bed, there’s even space for a writing desk!

Food, and the communal act of cooking,  will always be an important part of Buffalo Peaks Ranch. With additional Kickstarter funds we’ll be able to dust off this wonderful old Forest Service Manual, and build our very own Hillside Oven:


“Cooking is all about connection, I’ve learned, between us and other species, other times, other cultures (human and microbial both), but, most important, other people. Cooking is one of the more beautiful forms that human generosity takes…. Michael Pollan, from Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation.

Then, for the comfort of all (and always trying to live lighter on the land) we would love to build two compostable toilet/outhouses for ranch visitors:


It’s always about much more than the work: Each additional project funded in our Kickstarter campaign’s final hours will be achieved by expert advice and volunteer labor. They will also be occasions that bring people together at the ranch, giving us the chance to work on something greater than ourselves — building something for the common good we all care so much about.

We have until Friday, 11:59 pm. Please pledge your support and share our Kickstarter link with friends!


Help bring books, people & programs to Colorado’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch. With your support we will transform a historic high mountain ranch into a residential library devoted to land, community, and the many positive ways we can all move forward together.

But first, CLICK HERE and you’ll find out much more. Learn how you can be an important part of this land-inspired, book-loving grassroots project!



One of our volunteer-built Leopold Benches, with Mount Silverheels at sunrise.

The Important Work of Daydreaming


A Good Place to Daydream? Buffalo Peaks Ranch in South Park, Colorado. photo by Jay Halsey

In 2013, author Neil Gaiman delivered a speech at the Barbican Centre in London. The second annual Reading Agency Lecture was titled Reading and Obligation. Neil Gaiman’s words on the power of books, libraries, and reading has guided the Rocky Mountain Land Library ever since.

Here’s just a short passage that we especially love!

“We all — adults and children, writers and readers — have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.

Look around you: I mean it. Pause, for a moment and look around the room that you are in. I’m going to point out something so obvious that it tends to be forgotten. It’s this: that everything you can see, including the walls, was, at some point imagined. Someone decided it was easier to sit on a chair than on the ground and imagined the chair….This room and the things in it, and all the other things in this building, this city exists because, over and over and over, people imagined things. They daydreamed, they pondered….

And then, in time, they succeeded. Political movements, personal movements, all began with people imagining another way of existing.” — Neil Gaiman, from his Reading Agency Lecture, October 14, 2013


Author Neil Gaiman at his writing desk

The Land Library at Buffalo Peaks Ranch will always be a place to ponder, to daydream and, of course, to read.  As Neil Gaiman writes: “Books are the way we communicate with the dead. The way we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over.


“They daydreamed, they pondered…”  Buffalo Peaks Ranch with Reinecker Ridge in the distance.  photo by Carl Young

We have 8 more days to reach our all-or-nothing goal! Please pledge your support and share our Kickstarter link with friends!


Help bring books, people & programs to Colorado’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch. With your support we will transform a historic high mountain ranch into a residential library devoted to land, community, and the many positive ways we can all move forward together.

But first, CLICK HERE and you’ll find out much more. Learn how you can be an important part of this land-inspired, book-loving grassroots project!