Artist Information

Vincent Tolpo and Carolyn Lee Tolpo background information:

Vincent was born in 1950 to a family of artists. At age ten he started art studies with his artist parents. Tolpo graduated from Barrington High School in Illinois as an All-State baseball pitcher, cello player in community orchestras, and student of many art media. He attended University of Wyoming on a baseball scholarship. Later he attended Chicago Academy of Art while working at American National Bank and HFC. He continued orchestra work with Chicago Civic Symphony and other orchestras. Tolpo moved to Phoenix, Arizona, to study art at Arizona State University (Grad BFA 1974) and to paint the Grand Canyon. Vincent appeared in the first group show of local artists at the opening of the Scottsdale Arts Center in 1973. He sold his work through Suzanne Brown Gallery. He also painted a portrait of Pablo Casals for ASU music library. He was in the Arizona Cello Orchestra.

Carolyn Lee Robiscoe enjoyed growing up in Detroit, Michigan, with parents who were craftpersons. She excelled in swimming winning the citywide backstroke competition. Carolyn participated in student politics and graduated with honors from Cody High School. With academic scholarships Carolyn graduated from Wayne State University as an art educator. She taught art in the Detroit public schools. In 1963 Michael Inglesh was born to Carolyn Robiscoe Inglesh. They moved to Freeport in 1969 where Carolyn continued teaching and coordinated the art program in the Aquin Catholic school system. She also taught guitar privately. Carolyn and Michael then planned a move to Door County, Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, Vincent returned to Stockton, Illinois, to help his father, Carl Tolpo, with the 11 foot bronze statue of Senator Everett Dirksen for the State Capitol of Illinois. Vincent taught art part-time at Highland College in Freeport, Illinois where he met Carolyn Lee Inglesh. In 1975 he founded the Highland Area Arts Council and the Freeport Art Museum with the W.T. Rawleigh Art Collection. He began work as an arts administrator and a part-time artist.

Vincent and Carolyn Lee married in 1976. From 1977-81 he continued arts administration as executive director of Quad City Arts Council, Rock Island, Illinois, and Carolyn began a full-time art career.

In 1981, after Michael, their son, graduated high school and began video broadcast studies at Columbia College in Chicago, they moved to the Rocky Mountains to begin full-time art careers. Vincent and Carolyn Lee opened Shawnee Mountain Gallery in Shawnee, Colorado. Their first large commission was for the First National Bank at Perryton, Texas with Claus Heppner Design.

Through the years other bank commissions were with: First National Bank of Parker, Platte Valley Bank of Brighton, Mega Bank of Englewood, and Commercial Bank of Buena Vista. Building Lobbies: Alamo Center, DT Building, Marriot Hotel, Hamilton Standard, Holly Sugar, Elkhorn Conference Center, all in Colorado Springs. In Denver, Adams Mark Hotel, Glenarm Building, Cyprus Minerals Board Room, Kraft/Westman, Qwest, Waste Tech, Auto Nation Auto Showrooms, Tower Colorado, Outrigger Hotels, Coors Ceramicon, Sheridan Center, Beaumont at Southfield, 8801 & 8811 E. Hampden, Union Tower, Porter Hospital, Littleton Hospital, Digital Corporation, Kim Tech.

Many local patrons have ordered custom art for many private collections.

Nationally, art has been made for hotels, corporations and individuals from New York to California such as: Marriot Hotels in Washington and Ft. Lauderdale, Regal Riverfront Hotel in St. Louis, Beartooth Lodge Montana, Charles Schwab Phoenix.

Vincent was awarded a Co-Vision Grant from the Colorado Arts Council in 1992 to create a sculpture for the Park County Library. Carolyn continues to play guitar and Vincent continues cello practicing, occasionally performing chamber music and jazz-blues.

Sculpted and installed in 2014 was a 13 foot bronze sculpture of Victory for atop the Freeport Illinois Civil War Monument replacing the original 1869 sulpture lost to lightening in 1960. Tolpo’s worked with the civil was monument committee for 15 years to make this project a reality. Concept of work, funding, various committee approvals, the state preservationists, and public hearings were all part of this work.

Current Art Statement:

We live in the Platte River Mountains nestled in a valley at an altitude of 8200 feet within Pike National Forest, Shawnee, Colorado. Like the forest environment, our art ideas have become more varied and eclectic. We are part of the natural environment and our art reflects the abundance of textures, colors and compositions. As artists we have devoted our years to producing work that is non-exploitive, non-violent, and contemplative in nature. We want our designs to give a biophillic influence to our viewers. This includes, however, the excitement of visual details found in the variety of materials. The world of visual identification of textures, colors, contrasts, light, and form are the basis of our art. What we present is art as a visually informative object that is unique to the world and as detailed and diverse as if evolved by nature. Art is created to express energy, inspiration, and peace. Implied realism, pure abstraction, abstractions of natural themes, and expressionism are stylistic descriptions of our definitive and contemplative art. As commission artists we work regularly with organizations, committees, various individuals, interior designers, architects, building developers and other artists. We have become ultimate team players introducing the joy of creating art.

Personal Discoveries:

Landscape without wildlife is about land shapes and light, 1967. Wrapping and constructing fiber art occurred in 1982. Thermal shock glazing techniques found in 1985. Hand-dug local clay slips applied as glaze on pottery found in 1982. Mixed metal sculpture and the braze welding of copper with brass and stainless steel with brass began in 1986. The combination of ceramic tiles and stone with metal utilizes jewelry techniques on a large scale 1998. After these many years we know that every day somewhere in the world someone is enjoying the results of our creative endeavors.

Shawnee Mountain Pottery

Shawnee Mountain Pottery is handcrafted by artists Vincent and Carolyn Lee Tolpo. Vincent and Carolyn began making art pottery in Illinois in 1975. In 1981, the Tolpos founded Shawnee Mountain Pottery and Shawnee Mountain Gallery in the Rock Mountains of Colorado.

Each piece of pottery begins with a ball of clay that is individually hand-thrown on the wheel or is hand-built. The clay is handled many times by the artists before emerging from the kiln as a finished piece: wedging, throwing, trimming, finishing, drying, bisque firing, waxing, slip-trailing, dipping, sponging, and glaze firing.

Handmade pottery is a very labor-intensive art form. All pieces are oxidation fired in an electric kiln to 2291 degrees F. known as cone 6. The pottery is durable stoneware clay and glazed to become weatherproof, lead-free, and safe for the dishwasher, microwave, or conventional oven. The artist signs each piece of pottery.

A popular line of Shawnee Mountain Pottery is the unique Landscape Series. The pottery landscape drawings are drawn onto the wet pot after it has been thrown. Soil samples collected throughout the West become clay slips after cleaning and sieving. These clay slips are refined from soil samples hand-dug at special Colorado locations: Muddy Pass (Steamboat Springs), Garden of the Gods, Flying Raven Mine, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and Lake City. After the first bisque firing the slips are brushed onto the pottery landscape drawings and functional glazes are applied for re-firing.

Jewelry by Carolyn Lee Tolpo

Carolyn’s jewelry is hand made of antique beads, antique metals, and semi-precious and precious stones and metals. The unique materials are described on the back of each jewelry card.

Carolyn creates three distinct styles of jewelry: the International Collection, the Classic Collection, and the Heirloom Collection.

Reflected in the International Collection are elements from many countries. The Heirloom Collection is composed of antique beads and metals from a by-gone era. The Classic Collection is comprised of pearls, precious stones and metals with a timeless style.

Carolyn’s jewelry is represented by galleries, museum gift shops, and boutiques across the United States.

Shawnee Mountain Gallery........open daily year round ...........

Carolyn Lee Tolpo and Vincent Tolpo in 2001