High honors from high altitude
From the Grammys to alpine ski racing, awards made in Ridgway are all over the world
By Leslie Vreeland, Contributing Editor
Lisa Issenberg (Photo by Eric Ming)
What are the odds that two artisans from the same mountain town are responsible for producing some of the world’s most prestigious honors? That their businesses should be located not only on the same street in downtown Ridgway (population: 973) but in the same building?
The creative output of Ridgway metalworkers Lisa Issenberg, owner of Kiitellä, and John Billings of Billings Artworks has touched thousands of lives in some of the most elite professions on the planet.
Billings is responsible for the music industry’s highest honor, the Grammy Award, every one of which is individually crafted in the basement of his Ridgway studio.
Issenberg has designed awards for the American Alpine Club and for competitors in many winter alpine sports. Slalom superstar Mikaela Shiffrin of Vail has hoisted at least 10 of Issenberg’s made-in-Ridgway awards overhead in her brief career, and female racing greats Lindsey Vonn, also of Vail, and Bernadette Schild of Austria, Federica Brignone of Italy and Tessa Worley of France have all won Issenberg’s medals, too.
Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup is one of the biggest ski competitions of the year — and the awards and celebrations should reflect that.
To do so, the Vail Valley Foundation commissioned Colorado metal artist Lisa Issenberg to craft medals for the event — medals that will be awarded to world-class athletes for more-than-impressive performances.
Telluride AIDS Benefit: Metal Artist Issenberg Honors #25
by Susan Viebrock
The Telluride AIDS Benefit continues to wave its “Fight.Fund.Educate” banner on high – and with good reason…
To honor TAB’s silver anniversary, artist Lisa Issenberg’s uber cool cuff is now on sale for $75 at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art. The Gallery has represented Lisa’s work, primarily her jewelry, since 1992.
In the spirit of the Olympics and other award-winning competitions, 303 Magazine spoke with an artist from Ridgway, Colorado who spends her time crafting awards that are as special as the people who win them.
“Snowmass Grand Prix is an important stop on the road to 2018 Winter Olympics”
by Austin Colbert
The medals handed out at this week’s Toyota U.S. Grand Prix were designed by Ridgway artist Lisa Issenberg, who designed the medals for last year’s FIS World Cup Finals in Aspen and other events. For the Grand Prix, Issenberg said she used a mix of handcrafted and industrial techniques and no two medals are the same. In celebration of Snowmass’s 50th anniversary season, Issenberg incorporated the “Snowmass 50” logo as the bib.
World Cup Medals Created by Ridgway Artist
Lisa Issenberg’s custom awards spread around the globe
by Tanya Ishikawa
Lisa Issenberg works in her Ridgway studio. “There’s so much joy around the whole process of creating awards that honor people’s accomplishments,” she says. (Photo by Elizabeth Riley)
This week, a few works of Colorado art are headed to Switzerland, Germany and Norway, among other countries called home by the winners of the Audi Birds of Prey World Cup. Designed and handcrafted in a Ridgway studio, the medals from last weekend’s ski race in Beaver Creek are just the first few by metal artist Lisa Issenberg that will be awarded this winter.
In past years, top American winter athletes also have taken home an original medal by Kiitellä, Issenberg’s studio’s name, which means “to thank, applaud, praise” in Finnish. Ten of her awards have been won by Mikaela Shiffrin, six by Megan McJames, five by Tim Jitloff, four by Ted Ligety, and two by Lindsey Vonn, to name a few.
The story behind the Birds of Prey medals
by Ross Leonhart
You won’t find participation trophies at the Birds of Prey World Cup races at Beaver Creek. For the three fastest men in three disciplines, a custom, hand-made medal awaits at the podium — made by Lisa Issenberg, of Telluride [Ridgway, CO].
“The Birds of Prey I see as a high-level, sophisticated and traditional event — gold, silver and bronze represented with a classic, clean medal,” said Issenberg, who’s been commissioned by the Vail Valley Foundation to make the medals for the Birds of Prey races for a few years now. “Whereas some of the other ones — like some of the snowboard and free skiing medals — I make a little edgier. It just depends.”
Small Footprint, Outsized Potential
Microbusinesses help strengthen, diversify local economy
by Amy M. Peters
Many of this area’s businesses are based in real estate, agriculture and tourism, but the tri-county region also brims with craft manufacturers. Smaller companies may be less well-known. But they are important, because they help strengthen and diversify the economy.
Big businesses are “very unstable,” said Paul Major, the Telluride Foundation’s executive director. “They get overconcentrated (and lack) diversity, so when commodity prices go down, they’re all standing with their pants around their ankles asking, what happened to our economy here?”
Two Ridgway Artists Share A Building And A Passion
by Deb Dion Kees
The building at 609 Clinton Street is weathered, and the wooden floorboards creak when people pass over them. From the outside, the structure looks more historical than industrial, but when you step inside there is a faint smell of machinery and metal in the air, and also a little bit of creative magic.
Upstairs, artist Lisa lssenberg of Kiitella is busy polishing metal in her studio, and in the basement workshop, artist John Billings stands among a tall pile of boxes ready to be shipped. They each have their own business, but they share something in common besides the building and working as artists: They both make awards.
Kiitella creates custom awards for the outdoor industry — from national skiing events including the U.S. Alpine Championships, the Audi Birds of Prey World Cups, U.S. Freeskiing & Snowboarding National Championships, and a host of other outdoor events, to non-profits such as The American Alpine Club, American Mountain Guides Association, American Avalanche Association, and American Mountaineering Museum, to outdoor product manufacturers prAna, The North Face, and Marmot, to donor recognition walls and many local organizations where she got her introduction to the award-making business — her first award commission was for Telluride Mountainfilm in 1994.
lssenberg custom designs each piece, and fabricates using both industrial and hand techniques. The main material is metal — steel, brass, or bronze — and often incorporates other materials. Because they are handcrafted, each piece is slightly different, or “delightfully imperfect,” says lssenberg. “I’m so thankful the Japanese have an official term for this: wabi-sabi.”
The Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Colorado Main Street program awarded the 2014 Colorado Main Street of the Year to the City of Lamar… and Kiitella exercised creative license with the Colorado license plate!