With new energy and leadership, IdiomArt offers a welcoming art-space for all of Cuenca

Oct 24, 2021 | 4 comments

The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising and gave to it neither power nor time.
— Mary Oliver

Sarah HB was raised under the prayer flags of big skies, glaciated mountains, and the determination to make creative use of her time; attributes that define her hometown of Bozeman, Montana.

It is in Bozeman that Sarah learned the essential ingredients of community building: self-reliance, care for those who require assistance, and an appreciation for those who explore their talents with flair and panache. It is also where she picked up the generations-old wanderlust of westerners anxious to pack lightly and explore what is over the horizon. She took to the road with her son, Leif, in 2005, and arrived on the coast of Ecuador in 2009, where she lived for years before trekking to the “Athens of the Andes.” She now calls Cuenca home.

Sarah HB took over operations of IdiomArt (Presidente Cordova 1-77 y Miguel Angel Estrella) from founder Sara Koppler in the summer of 2021 and is now the organization’s director.

What joy it is to visit IdiomArt; this singular place has ignited a once nearly moribund community art scene, and set it afire with a phantasmagoria of classes, events, workshops, concerts, and exhibitions. Sarah is creating a lively, cohesive center for the creative arts that offers all the opportunity and encouragement required to thrive. Actually, it is much more than that; it is akin to being cradled in loving hands anxious for your well-being. She said she wants folks to get their bodies as involved in art as their mind, and that it be a magical experience. She said, “The experience will change your understanding of the artistic process and give you the confidence to explore your perception of the world from a higher plateau.”

IdiomArt is much more than a gallery or events center; it is a trailhead leading to a mosaic of creative community energy. I could feel it in the air.

I loved visiting IdiomArt in ways that surprised me. It was as invigorating to mingle with accomplished artists and budding colorists as it was to rest in an uncommonly attractive garden courtyard, complete with street art and flowers in bloom. I liked being offered complimentary coffee. It is a nice touch.

I asked Sarah to describe her venue. She said, “IdiomArt is housed in a 3,000 sq ft. century-old home featuring an art gallery, classrooms, workshop, community kitchen, concert venue, dance and yoga studio, lounge, two public bathrooms, and reliable wifi — all on the ground floor. The second floor supports two artist studios and one artist-in-residence living space.”

While that may seem, at first blush, to be a formidable undertaking fraught with potential mishap, everything I saw is bound with well-honed confidence and hard-won expertise permeated with loving care. When I asked Sarah if IdiomArt caters to both gringos, and locals, she demurred. She does not see it that way; to her, IdomArt caters to those who interact with art and those that do not, it hosts as many young local artists who visit because they are hungry to enroll in the school of the “Jaded,” by Daniel Williams, as it does gringos who are drawn here for the opportunity to quietly reflect at the contemplative stillness of “Twigs” by Moya Foley, an expat from the U.S. who has lived in Ecuador for 45 years.

Her intent is not to highlight distinction but to join all experience into a unified whole. A Mandala.

And, that ain’t the half of it; IdiomArt recently offered a two-day Shibori Japanese fabric dying class, a Qigong Butoh dance workshop, and will host their first drum circle this weekend.

Upcoming exhibitions include two of my favorite ceramic artists, Eduardo Segovia, and Juan Guillermo Vega.

She is just getting started. One Sunday a month is dedicated to a “Garden Sessions” concert series; an event that is already so popular it is certain to support an expanding repertoire of performing musicians from all of South America. Another of the more promising cultural exchange programs is, ‘CCC Spanish’; a Spanish language class focused on Conversation, Culture, and Context.


IdiomArt has regular gallery hours: Tues – Thurs 10 a.m to 3 p.m. Fri & Sat 10 a.m. to close, with other schedules for special events.

It will do you good to see for yourself this marvelous addition to our recovery from a difficult and fitful sleep. There are bright stars on the horizon and this is among the very brightest, so get up early and get out often. IdiomArt will welcome you.

To keep abreast of the comings and goings at idiomART, please “like” and “follow” the IdiomART Facebook page. You can also follow their Facebook group, “Create Community in Cuenca.”

Robert Bradley

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