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This is a contributing entry for YMCA of the Rockies: Art and Nature Inspire! Public Art Walking Tour and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.
The Dorsey Museum is currently home to two display backdrops by artist Susan Dailey. Both are located upstairs and depict Mountainside Lodge and a prehistoric rock shelter. Mountainside Lodge was built in 1920 on the side of Emerald Mountain by Dr. John Timothy Stone, a Presbyterian minister from Chicago. He loved the Rocky Mountains and found the area to be the ideal place for contemplation, study, writing, family vacations, and entertaining visitors. The lodge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is representative of western rustic architectural-style. The prehistory room depicts an area on our property where Paleo-Indians from the Late Archaic period sheltered as they moved around the mountains in search of food and other resources. There are several animals hidden in this mural. Find the squirrel. How many elk can you see? How many birds? How does the artist add depth and perspective to these backdrops? How does the 3D aspect of the backdrop affect our connection to the art?

Mural of Mountainside Lodge

A large, rustic, log cabin sits to the right of the image. Two women sit on the rock stairs in front of the door to the lodge. Several trees surround the house and large rocks form barriers between the grass next to the lodge and the gravel in front.

Detail of the rock shelter mural

The rocky, brown edge of the shelter is at the right side of the image. To the left are lots of pine trees and a few elk. Gray mountains of the Mummy Range are in the background, with the "Y" on Mt. Ypsilon visible on the left side of the image.

Mural of Long's Peak - no longer displayed

Long's Peak and a hiker are painted on the wall at the left of the image in a museum exhibition on hiking and climbing. There is a trail register and sign in front of the peak. On the right side next to the informational display, there is a climber with wearing a red hat carrying a red backpack with ropes, water bottle, and other climbing gear.

Foamcore base for the rock shelter

These photos show the early stages of creating the rock shelter. The white foamcore is attached to the ceiling and walls in the corner of the room. The edges are curved to help with the shape of the rock shelter later in the process. The walls are blue with the sky in the mural and unfinished trees sit on the hills surrounding the rock shelter on the walls.

Susan Dailey applying paper mache over the foamcore base

The artist sits on the floor in the center of the image, applying the papier mache over the foamcore to create the shape of the rock shelter. She sits next to a small table that holds the paper mache materials.

The first mural Susan Dailey created for YMCA of the Rockies was the Prehistory room in the museum. Dailey was taking a class at Colorado State University, Fort Collins where she formed a connection with the class professor. They were both muralists. The Dorsey museum's director at the time, Jack Melton, called the professor, asking to have a mural done at the museum. The professor was unable to take the project so Dailey's name was mentioned and her connection to the YMCA of the Rockies began. Dailey said she was given a cabin to stay in as she worked on the room during the winter of 1997. She worked mainly from photos, using acrylic paint on the walls as well as foam core and papier mache to create the replica of the rock.

Over the next several years, Dailey completed more projects for the YMCA of the Rockies and the Dorsey museum. The year after doing the Prehistory room, Dailey finished a mural of Long's Peak inside the museum that was eventually covered up during a later museum remodel. After the renovations of Mountainside Lodge around 2005, Dailey added the mural of the lodge in the museum, working from old photos of the original building from 1925.

For more information on Susan Dailey and her work, use the link below to access her website.

Susan K. Dailey - Multi-Media Artist. Accessed September 26th 2020.