Houston Llew released a brand new collection of Spiritiles! The Frontiers Collection features three new Spiritiles with a frontier adventure theme. Read on to explore Houston's story on this fantastic new release.
Embarking on new journeys are always nerves-fueled, "will-it-work?" adventures.
As an artist, I've seen my fair share of trailblazing and risk-taking, and this will always, always be the question: But what will happen?
203 - 'In the Air' - Everyone has oceans to fly... Is it reckless? Maybe. But What do dreams know of boundaries? - Amelia Earhart
Journey with me for a moment... put in some headphones and start up the song "Ecstasy of Gold" from Clint Eastwood's The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly.
Really listen to it.
Now imagine that endeavor you're on the brink of taking.
204 - 'Round the Bend' - "I Hear the Train a Comin' It's Rolling 'round the Bend." - Johnny Cash
OK, so let's picture you're now on the track of your endeavor - and like in 'Folsom Prison Blues' - you've hit a few bumps, you've been stumped by a few setbacks, but that train of life keeps running, and you can roll around that bend or you can stay where you are; but where's the fun in standing at the station?
205 - 'On the Road' - "Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road." - Jack Kerouac
Now let's get back on the road. At some point, you'll laugh, knowing that no matter the twists and turns, the embarkations, the bumps, the stunning views, whenever or wherever your adventure, you'll always find the road is life.
This summer, find yourself - lost - found - in that moment, in the gift of whatever is your frontier. Pursue it. Take the risk.
Colorado's landscapes are grand, beautiful, diverse and so much more. The state has the kind of views that so many of our visitors wish they could bring home with them. While it would be impossible to move the mountains, Colorado's artists are skilled at capturing their surroundings. Many of them are adept at doing so in ways that present far more than an exact representation of the landscape. They create works that capture the memories and emotions experienced while exploring Colorado's grandeur. And they do so with artwork that can certainly be moved from state to state, or even from country to country.
Throughout their ten years in business, Raitman Art Galleries has mastered finding Colorado's finest artists and fostering their unique interpretations of the state's beauty. The Raitmans have spent the past decade curating a collection of fine art that speaks to their love for the wilderness and their love for exceptional art.
One of the galleries' longest standing artists, Lelija Roy, says, "Part of my role as an artist is to preserve the image of our beautiful earth and to incite conservation through my art. I want viewers to feel as if they are walking amongst the trees. The rich textures and subtle changes in color in my work mimic the immersive experience of exploring the wilderness. I want people to fall in love with the wilderness, to want to protect and preserve it."
Tracy Felix has crafted quite the career out of his works in oil depicting Colorado's most iconic peaks. Felix's work can be found in museums throughout the state, including the Denver Art Museum. He is highly regarded for offering an idealized view of the landscape, with works paying homage to the American Regionalist movement and the artists of the famed Hudson River School. The peaks in Felix's work are often immediately recognizable, yet each piece as a whole is clearly not realistic. His work captures Colorado in a manner that makes the iconic landscapes seem dreamlike and stunningly lucid.
The Raitmans desire to represent Colorado artists is two-fold. For one, they see it as a necessary tribute to the beautiful place they find themselves fortunate enough to call home. They also do it for you, their treasured art collectors. So many visitors seek to bring a piece of their journey to Colorado back home with them. Artwork is the perfect way to do that.
Kristof Kosmowski was a prodigy in the European art world. He was awarded with 25 one-man shows in the largest cities of his native Poland by the time he was 25. He was also honored to show his work in the countries of Germany and Finland at such a young age. Kosmowski's training at both the Escola Massana Centre d'Art in Barcelona, Spain and the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland intensified his focus and furthered his career.
Today, he resides in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. We are a state fortunate to have such a skilled artist amongst us. This weekend, he will be making appearances in the downtown Breckenridge gallery, Art on a Whim on Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 pm.
Kosmowski's early recognition came from realistic renderings of a variety of sports. These paintings can be found in significant collections around the world. He was commissioned by the country of Poland to create a series of work which was used as postal stamps. In 2008 his work was used as the official poster of The Davis Cup, one of the world's premier tennis tournaments. Kosmowski's work is on display at the National Museum in Warsaw, Poland and in the Finnish Parliament building. Interesting collectors include Andy Roddick, Richard Petty, Greg Popovich, Leonard Taylor and plenty of corporations.
In 2009 Kosmowski moved to Colorado. In 2010, Kosmowski's life of creative exploration took a turn for the abstract. He began painting in a new style with new materials. His modern, expressionistic approach features his love for the landscape as his muse, as he loosely portrays Colorado's mountainous landscapes, aspen groves and bodies of water. His inspiration is drawn from past masters such as Monet, Rothko, Klimt, Cezanne and more.
Kosmowski says, “My paintings come from the colors. I stopped caring to much about defined shapes and I started to care more about colors and how they contrast in nature. I got bored painting subjects. If you have a minute to stand in front of a Rothko painting and look at it for a while, you get a different dimension. I am trying to do the same thing in a different way. I am constantly learning from the masters. If you focus you can see and feel realism within my paintings.”
Much of Kosmowski’s artwork is about neuroaesthetics. They are about shifting our perception of the world around us. He frequently depicts mental representations of an object, typically nature, rather than its actual form. Kosmowski’s artwork does not adhere to the light, shadows and color properties of objects in the physical world, yet it appeals to us because they reveal just enough form for our brains to complete the puzzle he has presented us with. His new painting “Valley View Lake” serves as a perfect example.
Kosmowski’s challenging medium of Venetian Plaster and oil paints provides his work with depth, texture and a rich vibrancy. Venetian Plaster is primarily composed of crushed marble and lime putty. Its extensive history dates all the way back to Roman times, with a resurgence during the Renaissance era in Venice and again with the skilled hands of Kristof Kosmowski.
On Venetian Plaster as his medium of choice, Kosmowski recalls, “I lived in France and visited the Palace of Versailles in 1978. The things you could not touch were composed of Venetian Plaster. It was so well done and I didn’t know things could be done in this technique. It stuck with me and I decided to explore it later in life. Now it comprises all of my artwork. I love working with the medium because you never know what is going to come up. It is organic, you cannot tell what is going to lie behind the surface after you complete polishing it. Shades are always shifting and I am always surprised by what I am able to reveal. When I start a painting I know roughly what colors I want to use but after I apply the pigments the polish will always give me different, spontaneous colors. I’m running around the painting like crazy, painting and scraping and polishing.”
Every variation Kosmowski infuses into his medium is applied with a random, controlled and immeasurable quality. His extemporaneous and emotional inspiration draws from a deep energy that translates into the poetic motions of his palette knives and brushes. It is impossible to duplicate a Kosmowski original, giving every piece intense feelings of mystery and excitement. Kosmowski's bold use of color and texture reflect his inner essence and love for the land. These are the signature marks of this Colorado based, international artist. You are invited to explore Kosmowski’s latest creations and meet the artist at the Art on a Whim Gallery this weekend. Be ready for your perceptions to shift.
Our bronze sculptor, Casey Horn, known for his incredible three-dimensional renditions of Chinese written characters, has created a new series of sculptures. The new series is called "The Heart." Currently, Casey has two pieces completed, "Heart" and "Mindfulness," and is in the process of creating others for the series. The pieces will be grass script - a simplified fluid way of writing the characters - and some will be kinetic. Typically "Heart" will form the base for each sculpture in the series, with another symbol on top to create an exquisite symbol and sculpture. Because edition sizes will be small (typically nine castings per piece), we will be taking pre-cast orders.
In many modern cultures, there is a heart-mind dichotomy which expresses the heart as the center for emotions and the brain as the origin of thought. However, traditional Chinese culture views the heart as the organ of both emotion and thought -- it is the center of a person's intellectual, mental, and emotional being. The written character for heart can be interpreted as heart, mind, or spirit, and is a key foundation that words involving emotion and thinking are built upon. When present, the character for heart encompasses feelings and ideas, as both are processes that evolve within the heart. In translation, the piece Mindfulness (pictured to the right) means "the practice of recognizing where your heart is now." As you will see in the first picture below, "Mindfulness" is created with the symbol for "Now" above "Heart-Mind."
Click here to view "Mindfulness" in our online gallery. A video of the piece in motion is at the end of this blog post. It is the very first piece cast in the series to be available for acquisition from our gallery. Currently #1 of 9 of the edition is in Vail, while #2 is in Breckenridge.
Here is a description of the sculpting process for "Heart":
The sculpting process starts with the study of the character. This includes its meaning, composition, stroke order, and writing style
Once a three-dimensional sketch has been created, preliminary shapes are cut out of sheet bronze using a plasma cutting torch.
During the annealing process, the material is heated just short of its melting point and allowed to cool at room temperature in order to make it malleable.
The material is now easier to hammer and form into the shapes needed to create the sculpture.
The shapes are welded together, forming the basic sculptural design.
Additional sides are fitted and welded to create the appearance of a solid form. Many grinding techniques are used to refine and texture the sculpture in prepartion for the patina (coloring).
We are proud to be hosting a couple events for the 13th annual Vail Film Festival! One of our artists, David V. Gonzales, painted the official image for the film festival poster. We have the original painting on display in the Vail gallery, as well as poster for sale. Gonzales will be at the Vail Cascade signing poster on Saturday, April 9th, from 3 to 6 PM. Click here to order the poster.
We are also hosting a party in our Vail gallery from 1-3 PM on Sunday, April 10th, for one of the featured documentaries at the film festival. Out of the Ashes is a brilliant film about a story of friendship and a dream taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the United States. The two main subjects in the movie, Prince and Grace, will be in the gallery during the party to sign stills from the movie. We will also be serving a traditional West African food dish, as well as refreshments.
We hope you can join us for one or both events this weekend!
Similar to so many others, Don DeMott's life took a major turn after his first foray into the wondrous forests and mountains of Colorado. Unlike most people in the world, DeMott has been able to take his awe struck experience and turn it into something that strikes awe in others. The realism with which he captures Colorado's mystical aspen groves and pine forests is simply stunning.
Don DeMott has been sculpting since he was 15 years old. He learned to weld from his brother John, who is also an extremely accomplished artist. Together, they created and sold thousands upon thousands of metal sculptures while doing business as the DeMott Corporation. Chances are, if you visited a department store in the 1970's or 1980's you have seen the DeMott's work. Stores such as Macy's, J.C. Penney's, Broadway and Bullocks featured their sculptures in their collections. Many of the sculptures depicted sailboats set on stone bases. DeMott's early mix of metal and stone still informs his work today. However, the subject matter has shifted to reflect something much closer to his heart and his adopted home state of Colorado.
DeMott's transformative drive through Colorado took place in 1979. His favorite song was "Rocky Mountain High" by John Denver. Inspired by Denver's skilled lyricism, DeMott detoured through Colorado on his way from Texas back to California. He says, "I was a big John Denver fan and that drive over Wolf Creek Pass and down into Durango was like something straight out of "Rocky Mountain High." Aspens have been stuck in my head ever since.”
Shortly after that life altering drive, DeMott began using the materials he had mastered for his early work and began sculpting and welding aspen groves set on alabaster bases. Fittingly, he sold his first aspen sculpture at John Denver's auction to benefit his Windstar Project in 1981. DeMott recently shared a fantastic picture of John Denver holding the piece on stage while Jimmy Buffett stood behind him as the auctioneer. Given the quality of DeMott's work, it is no wonder that the beginnings of his one of a kind collection of aspen sculptures were not exactly humble.
DeMott's work begins with finding an alabaster stone or two to set the tone and composition of his sculpture. In a piece such as "Blue River Aspens," DeMott found two stones whose shapes mirror each other to create the feel of a river flowing through a narrow canyon. DeMott will spend hours digging through piles of stone to find just the right piece to bring back to his studio.
Once back in the studio, DeMott begins the painstaking process of shaping and welding steel rods into perfectly shaped tree trunks. Just like in the wild, no tree trunk is the same shape or size. Every trunk in a DeMott sculpture is one of a kind. His aspens tend to be smoother with less branches. His pines are heavily textured through heat and up to two thousand welds are used to create all of the branches necessary to do the trees justice. DeMott's sculptures are so precise that he must mark which tree goes into which carefully drilled hole in the alabaster foreground. Skipping that necessary step could lead to some serious headaches while putting the final pieces into place.
Color never ceases to fascinate viewers of DeMott's work. The meticulously sculpted tree trunks are carefully painted with enamels and tiny paint brushes. The detail DeMott captures in his aspens makes one feel like the tiny eyes in the trees are looking right back at them. Darker marks in the trees show where scars have formed from the tree's age or its use by passing elk and moose to rub their antlers.
Fall foliage is a must-see in Colorado's high country. Sadly, it is so fleeting. DeMott's sculptures present the far too short time of year on a permanent basis. He uses organic materials to form both aspen leaves and pine needles. The material is dyed in natural colors and often presents fall at its perfect peak. Light dances through the leaves much as it would as if the viewer were in the forest, seemingly changing the color of the sculpture throughout the day.
Finding sculptures as realistic as DeMott's is not a common occurrence. The moment DeMott reached out to the Art on a Whim Galleries about showing his sculptures last summer the gallery's owner and director were instantly hooked. They were on the phone with DeMott within minutes of seeing photographs of his work. Only later did the Raitman family discover that they have owned one of DeMott's early sailboats for years. It makes presenting a show of DeMott's latest creations quite the show in the making.
A bike race is intense. Adrenaline pumps through the rider's veins. Their pedals spin furiously with each push of the legs. Their faces are full of focus and determination. Viewers rarely catch more than a glimpse of the riders. Despite the fleeting moment they are left with an abundance of energy from the rush of flesh, metal and rubber that just flew by them. Translating a moment so quick, yet so powerful, into a work of art is a challenging endeavor. David V. Gonzales has built quite the fine-art career by mastering the motion and energy that makes bike racing so enthralling.
Gonzales has been painting professionally for most of his adult life. By the time he was seventeen he had work hanging at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and in the governor's mansion in New Mexico. He received a full scholarship to study at the San Antonio Art Institute. His career took off after he began to masterfully express his fascination with relative objects moving through space and time. For the past year, much like a bike race, awards and acclaim for Gonzales' work have been coming fast and furious.
Gonzales' original acrylic painting titled "The Peloton" was selected to represent the USA Pro Cycling Challenge this year. After the race passes through Breckenridge the piece will be en route to a museum. His painting titled "Destination" represented the Breckenridge stage of the race last year, while "The Undertaking" represented the Woodland Park stage. His pieces titled "Through Independence" and "Golden's Pro Race" represent the Aspen and Golden stages of the race this year. "ULLR Flipping for Snow" was selected to represent Breckenridge's ULLR Festival this past winter. His painting "60th Annual Pikes Peak Marathon" was chosen to represent the historic anniversary of the incredible marathon, known for its ascent of Pikes Peak.
The glue that holds Gonzales' collection of work together is the powerful and purposeful brushstrokes with which he paints. To capture speed and motion like Gonzales is able, an artist must maintain an intense focus. It is only through channeling the same inner drive to achieve that elite athletes are able to attain that an artist can translate their pursuits to panel. Gonzales prefers to work with acrylics on panel as the quick drying time of the paint and the rigidity of the panels he works on allows him to work quickly, thus capturing the intense rush of athletes in motion. None of Gonzales' paintings depict static moments in time. Rather, every new creation is like a living entity. Each painting depicts a past, present and future; ever moving and unfolding. Blurred brush strokes combine with a knack for realism to translate people and objects moving quickly through their environments. This makes every painting come alive with a combination of color and energy. It makes Gonzales' work instantly recognizable. Often, he has been likened to Colorado's modern day version of the past master Leroy Neiman.
On his process, Gonzales says, "I start a painting with just a few colors and start to see the interaction of movement, color and form. My first few marks are just to capture the motion of the rider and I build upon that. I don't stay in one spot when working on the piece. I move around the painting much as a rider moves through the scenery. There are often surprises stemming from not knowing exactly where you are going. It is necessary to keep that enthusiastic element, that life force, alive throughout the painting. I strive to keep that surprise element present throughout the entire painting. Sometimes you have more hurdles to overcome in doing so but it is that unexpected trust within yourself that you can elevate your motions to the next stage to accomplish something extraordinary."
Organic. Unique. Contemporary. Classic. Combined, each adjective perfectly sums up the work of Cynthia Duff. Her wooden canvases literally pop off of the wall. Each piece undulates with a perfect combination of form, color and composition. Duff's show, hanging at the Art on a Whim gallery, presents a wondrous experience of discovering what can be accomplished when an artist steps outside of the box and literally bends their medium in new directions.
Duff says, “I start my work with this raw magnificent inspiration. I visualize it... I become one with it. I use music, color, subject, shape and line to help me orchestrate my art. Once the work has started it follows a journey of its own. My inner self must be allowed to flow and create. I am often amazed at the results."Working with wood seemed to come by accident for Duff. Years ago, she was invited to display her work in a show titled “Bent.” Duff searched far and wide for a manufacturer or a DIY method to bend canvas into a rounded form. Without the means to manipulate canvas in such a manner, she turned to wood. Today, she has gained worldwide acclaim for creating a series of work that adds an incredible amount of natural beauty to the spaces it decorates.
Duff’s work begins with picking a flat piece of birch wood. She carefully mixes a combination of acrylics and wood stains to both add color to the piece and enhance the beautiful wood grains that are already inherent in it. Duff’s use of layered gold leaf provides an elegant and stunning shine to the top layers of each contemporary painting. Fracturing, a technique she developed to highlight the intricacy of her work, allows for color blocking to come in swirling, seemingly dancing, patterns. In her landscapes, the technique allows her to present different parts of the day within the same painting by slicing the composition into sections.
A major piece included in Duff's current show, measuring 60" x 60", is titled "Glades of the Gore." The painting is a perfect example of her fracturing process. The majestic Gore Range stands tall above an aspen and spruce covered hillside hidden somewhere on Vail mountain. The peaks are bathed in a glorious alpenglow while the rest of the painting shifts seamlessly between morning, afternoon and nighttime light. Interestingly, the painting was done with a combination of brushes and hotel room key cards. Duff collects key cards from her travels throughout the world. They were laying around her studio one day and seemed like they would add another dimension to her painting technique. As evidenced in "Glades of the Gore," they worked perfectly.
While most artists would be content to stop with a perfectly composed painting, Duff’s work is only part done. She hand shapes each piece of painted wood into three-dimensional, rounded curves. As viewer’s walk past her work different parts of the painting appear. Looking at each piece changes dramatically depending on the angle from which it is viewed. The curves mimic the shape of the tree trunk upon which she has painted, breathing life back into the tree. With Colorado being such an outdoorsy state, the wooden canvases speak to the pristine environment in which Duff resides.In Duff's abstracts, the colors contrast and blend beautifully throughout the piece. Much of her recent work has focused on abstraction. She says, “I love painting landscapes but when I begin an abstract composition the colors and shapes start dancing in front of me. I paint with music on and I’m sure that has something to do with it. Historically I have created more landscapes, figurative and wildlife work but at the moment I am having so much fun with shapes. As much as I plan each piece, the final result of every abstracted painting is still a surprise to me.”
Duff demonstrated her work and explaining her process in the Art on a Whim gallery in Vail this March. With several significant sales so far, this is a show worth seeing. Duff says, "God gives you a gift and to me part of my gift is to bring pleasure to people through their eyes. The gallery is a happy sanctuary to view, be inspired and bring that joy back home."
Name a Disney movie between 1985 and 2005 and chances are Ellen Woodbury worked on it. Here are a few: Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King and The Beauty and the Beast. Having been born in the early 1980’s myself; Woodbury spent her career bringing the stories that shaped my childhood to life. As a Directing Animator at the company that brought us The Magic Kingdom, Mickey Mouse and more, Woodbury’s career is marked with highlights and prestige. This weekend, she is meeting collectors while showing a collection of her sculpture at the Art on a Whim gallery in Vail Village.
Woodbury broke down barriers with her work on The Lion King, becoming the first female Supervising Character Animator in the long and storied history of Disney. Her character, Zazu, is the little hornbill (a tropical bird) in the film. Woodbury was known among the animation industry as one of the most disciplined and accomplished individuals in the field. Film producer Don Hahn said he has, “never seen anybody get into a character as much as Woodbury would.” For this, and many other significant achievements, Woodbury is regarded as one of the 50 Most Influential Disney Animators. Today, she spends her time in Loveland, Colorado creating classic and contemporary stone sculptures from precious stones found throughout the world.
Woodbury turned to stone sculpting in 2005, having resigned from her position at Disney in order to pursue a career as an independent artist. Long before, her path in education took her to the film program at Syracuse University, which she credits for teaching her how to analyze and for opening her mind. In 1982 Woodbury enrolled at The California Institute of the Arts. Here, she became the prized pupil of master animator and artist Jules Engel. With her background in animation well established at this point, Engel simply pushed Woodbury to another level. She says, “He was just so charming. There was something about him right from the start. He showed me the work and it really blew me away! Where my mind was stretched, Jules filled it up with all these different ways of animating, all these different mediums and ideas.”
According to Engel, “A mentor is someone who may be trained in academia, but who is more concerned with the 'big' picture of highly personal, cutting-edge experimentation and individual thinking about the arts.” The combination of Engel’s influence and Disney’s wondrous and innocent characters are ever present in each of Woodbury’s one-of-a-kind sculptures. She is an artist who is not afraid to strike out on her own, drawing upon her extensive training while spending hundreds of hours painstakingly creating each unique sculpture.
On her piece depicting two white-tailed ptarmigans, titled “Squash and Stretch,” Woodbury says; “Squash and stretch is one of the most important ingredients in traditional Disney animation. It is defined as change in shape with no change in volume, as illustrated by the poses of these ptarmigans. The principle of squash and stretch gives character animation life, weight and flexibility and makes Disney animation fun to watch and create.” Soft curves, crisp edges and changes in shape highlight the piece. The sculpture is created from Sivec Marble, which was quarried in Greece. It is the same stone used in ancient Greek temples, plazas and statues. The marble is pristine, with medium sized crystals resembling the snow the famed ptarmigans are so adept at blending into.
Amongst a collection of ten original pieces, Woodbury’s show stopper is titled “Phoenix Rising.” The sculpture is inspired by hope and new beginnings. The piece is made from Yule Marble, which was quarried not from here in Marble, Colorado. From the base to the tip of the Phoenix’ taller wing the piece measures 30” high. Light plays off of the smooth sculpted surface, as the piece is designed by using a combination of curved and faceted lines. Crystals found within the ancient stone sparkle like snowflakes when they catch the light. The piece held up to 623 hours of rigorous sculpting while being formed thanks to the strong bedding plane that the stone Woodbury chose was discovered in. Both tips of the bird’s wings delicately curve outwards, giving the piece the feeling of flight and reaching for the next step in life. Woodbury says, “Every bit of careful effort you put into your sculpting returns to you ten times over in successful forms, pristine color, subtle veining and dazzling snowflake crystal. This bird rises from the embers of one art form (animation) to inspire and inform another.”
Woodbury’s current show at the Art on a Whim gallery represents well over a year’s worth of work. Given her preferred medium of stone, each piece is truly unique and is not created in editions. Woodbury will be wet-sanding a new piece while talking about her extensive background and incredible techniques in the gallery throughout the weekend. A master of animation and a master sculptor, Woodbury’s work is a sight to see.
The landscapes of artist Lelija Roy are all about emotion. They are about feeling. Each unique piece captures a pristine moment in time. Rather than a realistic interpretation of the scene, each painting portrays the awe that nature's beauty leaves within its witnesses.
Lelija's work has been highly sought after since her introduction in the Art on a Whim gallery five and a half years ago. The evolution of her work has been as impressive as watching the leaves of aspens turn from green to gold each fall. Aspens, of course, are a staple in Lelija's subject matter. She is quick to say, "I am always inspired by the inter-connectedness of aspen groves. They strike me as all being a part of a sisterhood." As such, every painting displays the unity found amongst Colorado's iconic trees. With such a classic subject as her muse, Lelija has excelled at creating an innovative technique to portray the magic of the forests.
Dozens of layers of mixed-media materials bring Lelija's landscapes to life through immense texture and color. The primary components of her paintings are rice papers, silk, lace and other fabrics mixed with acrylics, metallic and iridescent paints, inks and more. The materials combine seamlessly to replicate the depth we find when wandering through the mountains. Depending on the perspective Lelija seeks to capture in every new painting her viewers will find themselves immersed within an aspen grove, standing on the edge of a meadow enjoying the distant scenery or soaring above the scenery with a bird's eye view.
A new piece titled "Magic Touch" has the viewer soaking in an alpine valley, surrounded by jagged peaks. Mountains made of silk grace the skyline. Rice papers create the winter laden aspen trees. A shimmering copper sky, composed of metallic and iridescent paints, shifts color as one moves past the painting. All told, the painted and textured landscape undulates much as the valley, peaks and sky would in nature itself. It is impossible to look at the piece and not feel at peace with the world, knowing that places like this are waiting to be explored. Lelija says, I want those appreciating my art to "know that they have the power to preserve this beautiful piece of nature."
Impressions are a large part of what Lelija creates. Each piece is both realistic and abstracted at the same time, leaving a clear and telling image. The impressionist masters, such as Monet, are a large influence on Lelija's latest works. Her dreams have started to work their way into her creations as well, giving many new pieces a delicate, supernal quality.
"Heart Path" lights up her new collection. The 40" by 30" piece is alive with burgundy and gold. Lelija says, "It epitomizes the vibrancy of the Pantone color of the year, Marsala." Impressionist brush strokes create thick foliage, allowing the viewer to get lost in the color of the aspen grove. Lelija's masterful use of texture provides definition to each leaf as it sways in the breeze. Lelija's objective with the painting is to allow one to "feel the heart beat of Mother Earth."
The tradition of landscape painters using their skill to preserve the places they paint is not lost on Lelija. She says, "Every new painting seeks to bring us to that peaceful place where we become lost in the ever changing and always beautiful planet we live on."
Art on a Whim Hosts Action Painter David V. Gonzales
Movement, energy and speed are intrinsic to skiing and snowboarding. The sports embody the spirit of interacting with nature. Combine their speed with big, pristine mountains and you will find an unrivaled sense of freedom and joy. David V. Gonzales seeks to capture all of the above in his lively acrylic paintings of skiers and snowboarders.
Gonzales exploded onto the Breckenridge art scene this summer upon being selected to represent the town with the Stage 5 Pro Cycling Challenge Poster. He is known for painting motion and transferring the speed of sports into two-dimensional scenes that make viewers feel as if they are witnessing athletic feats as they are happening. The Manitou Springs-based artist has fallen in love with Breckenridge over the past several months, having witnessed the excitement of the Pro Cycling Challenge and the opening of the 2014-2015 ski season. As a result, he strives to emulate the town's character and liveliness in all of his recent works.
When asked about his current show at the Art on a Whim gallery, Gonzales said, "Breckenridge! Skiing and snowboarding are one of the main components of the town's culture. The slopes are an inherent part of the spirit of the town. Watching people excitedly carry their skis and boards all around downtown is very cool. You don't have to travel far out of downtown to get on the mountain. This show brings it all together; the fact that there is skiing outside the gallery door, the enthusiasm throughout town and paintings that represent both inside the gallery. Seeing all the excitement, the movement and colors throughout Breckenridge make me want to capture that feeling in my work."
Gonzales loves to paint the motion of skiing and snowboarding. He thrives on portraying the essence of speed and motion in the sports through color, strong brush strokes and unique compositions. On his creative process, he says, "I start a painting with just a few colors and start to see the interaction of movement, color and form. My first few marks are just to capture the motion of the skier or rider and I build upon that. I don't stay in one spot when working on the piece. I move around the painting much as a skier would on a mountain. There are often surprises stemming from not knowing exactly where you are going. It is necessary to keep that enthusiastic element, that life force, alive throughout the painting. Much like skiing, I want to keep that surprise element present throughout the entire painting. Sometimes you have more hurdles to overcome in doing so but it is that unexpected trust within yourself that you can elevate your motions to the next stage to accomplish something extraordinary."
Speaking of unexpected trust, much of Gonzales' work depicts skiers or snowboarders flying through the air. He says, "Between the wind and the movement, it is exhilarating to be up in the air. You have almost an uncontrollable faith in yourself in going beyond the normal abilities of a two footed human being by launching into the air on skis or a board." Several of his paintings capture this flying feeling, with "Aerial Spin Over 8" and "With the Stars in Breck" serving as great examples. "Aerial Spin Over 8" shows Peaks 8 and 7 behind a skier performing a back flip. Gonzales finds the peaks stunning, thanks to the large saddle separating them and the way the slopes look sculpted between the trees. Of the painting he says, "It is that fun feeling being unleashed in the sky." "With the Stars in Breck" happened serendipitously according to Gonzales. "It was a spontaneous journey of color and movement. Creating the painting captured going to a place you have never been and going with whatever happens along the way. You just trust your gut and go big. I love the night sky in Breckenridge and it was fun to present the mountain at an unusual time of day for skiing."
One of Gonzales' originals is being auctioned as a donation to Team Summit. The painting, titled "Bobby Brown Crossing the Air” depicts four time X Games gold medalist and Sochi Olympics participant Bobby Brown performing a cross air trick, overlapping his skis in front of a bright blue sky. Brown is a Colorado native who grew up skiing for Team Summit, the home ski team for each of the Summit County resorts. 100% of the proceeds from the painting will be donated to Team Summit's mission of promoting character development through athletics by stressing self-reliance, persistence, dedication and achievement. Gonzales finds that their work as a ski and ride team "transcends sports and carries on into every aspect of the child's life. They are helping to build our future by raising physically and socially aware children through sports." T-shirts and posters are also available for purchase, with a portion of proceeds from the sales being donated to Team Summit as well.
Gonzales will be in the Art on a Whim gallery in Breckenridge this Friday and Saturday evenings from 4 to 8 pm. He will be painting live in the gallery while showing the collection of his newest original works. After finishing a day on the slopes après ski is always a good time but rarely can you be transported to the feeling of being back on the mountain. The action in Gonzales' work has the ability to bring you right back to those perfect moments on the slopes.
Cynthia Duff’s sculpted wooden canvases embody the contemporary side of Colorado. Each piece undulates with a perfect combination of form, color and composition. Hailing from Grand Junction, Colorado, the artist’s work literally pops off of the wall. Her show, hanging at the Art on a Whim gallery, presents a wondrous experience of discovering what can be accomplished when an artist steps outside of the box and literally bends their medium in new directions.
Working with wood seemed to come by accident for Duff. Years ago, she was invited to display her work in a show titled “Bent.” Duff searched far and wide for a manufacturer or a DIY method to bend canvas into a rounded form. Without the means to manipulate canvas in such a manner, she turned to wood. Today, she has gained worldwide acclaim for creating a series of work that adds an incredible amount of natural beauty to the spaces it decorates.
Duff says, “I start my work with this raw magnificent inspiration. I visualize it... I become one with it. I use music, color, subject, shape and line to help me orchestrate my art. Once the work has started it follows a journey of its own. My inner self must be allowed to flow and create. I am often amazed at the results."
Duff’s work begins with picking a flat piece of birch wood. She carefully mixes a combination of acrylics and wood stains to both add color to the piece and enhance the beautiful wood grains that are already inherent in it. Duff’s use of layered gold leaf provides an elegant and stunning shine to the top layers of each contemporary painting. Fracturing, a technique she developed to highlight the intricacy of her work, allows for color blocking to come in swirling, seemingly dancing, patterns. In her landscapes, the technique allows her to present different parts of the day within the same painting by slicing the composition into sections. In her abstracts, the colors contrast and blend beautifully throughout the piece. Much of Duff’s recent work has focused on abstraction. She says, “I love painting landscapes but when I begin an abstract composition the colors and shapes start dancing in front of me. I paint with music on and I’m sure that has something to do with it. Historically I have created more landscapes, figurative and wildlife work but at the moment I am having so much fun with shapes. As much as I plan each piece, the final result of every abstracted painting is still a surprise to me.”
While most artists would be content to stop with a perfectly composed painting, Duff’s work is only part done. She hand shapes each piece of painted wood into three-dimensional, rounded curves. As viewer’s walk past her work different parts of the painting appear. Looking at each piece changes dramatically depending on the angle from which it is viewed. The curves mimic the shape of the tree trunk upon which she has painted, breathing life back into the tree. With Colorado being such an outdoorsy state, the wooden canvases speak to the pristine environment in which Duff resides.
Duff has also created a line of functional pieces that quite literally glows. For years viewers posed the question as to whether or not her wall sculptures could be sconces. As a result, Duff found a way to add light to her work and make the answer to the question a joyful, “yes, indeed.” She says, “Lighting my work had been an idea for quite some time. I wanted to create something with bent wood that was both sculptural, like my wall pieces, and free-standing. I began incorporating the idea of a light and the series started coming together when I participated in a woodworkers show in 2012. I created a series of six or seven lights on pedestals and have been making them ever since. People love them because they are fine art with ambience and functionality. During the day you see the visual art of the painted wood but at night the pieces transform themselves into a glowing sculpture.”
At its core a bike race is all about movement. It is fast, frenzied and fascinating. The work of artist David V. Gonzales was chosen to represent the Breckenridge and Woodland Park stages of the 2014 Pro Cycling Challenge for just this reason.
Gonzales’ winning piece for the Breckenridge stage of the race is titled “Destination.” Through bright colors and swift movement the piece captures the essence of the Pro Cycling Challenge’s intense finish. Gonzales says, “It is the finish for the stage so I wanted something where the adrenaline, the heightened physicality of racing to the finish line was captured. The painting reflects completing the race.” Gonzales set the scene through capturing a group of riders cruising through Breckenridge with focused faces, controlled rhythm and intentionally blurred bikes. Gonzales’ intentional use of extra lines throughout the piece provides a sense of flying through the time and space that the bikers occupy in the painting. There is a clear destination just past the viewer’s perspective and whichever rider reaches that place first has clearly met their goal. Peak 8 of the Ten Mile Range is unmistakable, making Breckenridge a central figure in the epic race to the finish.
The work is available through the Art on a Whim gallery in downtown Breckenridge as well as from a booth in the festival village. The festival village will be open from noon to six pm and the gallery from 11 to 9 pm.
Capturing the speed and intensity of a bike race is no easy task. Gonzales draws upon his love of sport and his reliance on a bike as his only source of transportation to make it happen. Movement inspires the sports theme found in much of Gonzales’ work. He loves experiencing that “instinctual feeling in which you don’t have time to think.” For Gonzales, the feeling is found both in participating in high energy sports and in working quickly with acrylics. Much of Gonzales’ sports themed collection is created right after expending all of his energy practicing martial arts, playing basketball or riding his bike. He will end the activity and immediately begin a painting in order to carry over the energy created through intense physical activity. He finds that this perfectly transfers the vigor of the sport into the painting. He says, “If I trust the process, apply the same method that I would in a basketball game or bike riding really hard, there’s a lot of life that pulls through into the painting. So that’s what I like about sports, is that very thing. If I can do that as an artist and pull that experience onto the surface — wow. That’s where I live and breathe at when I’m painting sports scenes.”
Gonzales’ piece titled “The Undertaking” was also selected to represent the Pro Cycling Challenge for the town of Woodland Park, which hosts the beginning of today’s Stage 5 of the race. Despite winning this painting competition, Gonzales’ believes, “Competitive spirit is not about winning, it is about pouring out your heart and soul in that moment. I want to capture that same feeling in my work.” His work exemplifies the spirit of this magnificent race. The color and movement bring vivacity to the paintings, much as the race does to the mountains.
Vitreous enamel is an ancient art form. The medium dates back thousands of years but it is rarely seen these days. This weekend, two of the artists chiefly responsible for keeping vitreous enamel alive are in Breckenridge to show off the wide ranging collections of their work. The stories of how they began working with such a unique process are as steeped in history as the medium itself.
Vitreous enamel is the process of combining glass to metal through the use of heat. It is defined as a vitreous, glass-like coating fused to a metal base and is best explained as glass on metal. The medium was born in fire. Today the fusing process typically takes place in a kiln. The materials are fired at temperatures ranging from 1300 to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. The process has as much to do with the longevity of the unique medium as does its beauty. Firing the glass to metal bonds the work; making it scratch, chemical and fire resistant, all necessary components in the medium’s rich history.
The first use of decorative enameling dates all the way back to 13th Century B.C. Six gold rings decorated in cloisonné enamel were discovered in a tomb on the island of Cyprus. Together they are known as the “Kouklia Rings.” They were created with gold, twisted wire and glass. Later, a gold scepter and orb decorated with white, pink and green glass was found. From here, cloisonné was born and centuries later Faberge eggs appeared as perhaps the best known use of vitreous enameling.
The more recent history of vitreous enamel involves a passing of the torch, so to speak. In addition, large scale iterations of the medium have taken a turn towards the fine arts. Fred Ball was born in 1945 and passed far too early in 1985. His experiments with vitreous enamel gained him critical acclaim as an artist and many of his massive murals are still visible today. Ball passed on his knowledge and expertise to Craig Ruwe, who in turn was responsible for teaching the artist Zingaro beginning in 2001. Ruwe too passed at a young age. Just prior he charged Zingaro with continuing the evolution of the medium by teaching more young artists how to work with the ancient technique. Zingaro kept this tradition alive by introducing the young Houston Llew to vitreous enamel.
Zingaro’s background as a painter has allowed him to approach the medium in a painterly manner. He is a master of color, movement and design. His formal art training began at the age of 11 as a student at the Swain School of Design. At the age of 16 he travelled from his home in Massachusetts to Tucson, Arizona, where he gained employment as a commercial mural artist and signwriter. His years as a professional artist are now measured in decades and his studies have taken place with several masters of their mediums, including Craig Ruwe, George Mandevellis and David Michael Kennedy. Today, Zingaro is seen as the master of vitreous enamel. His body of work includes nearly 1,000 original pieces, both large and small in scale. His work highlights the collections of renowned institutions like the National Dance Institute in New York and the Institute for Cultural Diversity in Berlin, as well as the private collections of Kelly Clarkson and Denzel Washington. Selected works will be on display this weekend at the Art on a Whim gallery.
Zingaro’s student, Houston Llew, has taken vitreous enamel and quickly risen to the top of our country’s young emerging artists. Llew began apprenticing with Zingaro in 2008 and quickly developed his own style within the ancient art form. Photo realistic imagery and inspiring quotes characterize his series of work. His “Spiritiles” combine wit and wisdom from timeless quotes with incredible designs. For example, Llew’s piece showing the silhouette of a child on a beach reads, “When you need a miracle, just look at your child and realize you created one.” His dragonfly borrows Mary Oliver’s verse and says, “I want to be improbable and beautiful and afraid of nothing as if I had wings.” Like Zingaro, Llew’s work has been avidly collected throughout the world.
Both artists will be in Breckenridge this weekend inscribing their work for collectors. Their work is always on display at the Art on a Whim gallery. Viewing their chosen medium of vitreous enamel is even more fascinating than the story behind the work. Luminous and contemporary yet rustic at the same time, each original work of art glows. The story behind the work, and the gentlemen responsible for carrying the torch of the ancient medium, just serves to enhance the brilliance that is vitreous enamel and the work of Zingaro and Houston Llew.
Detail from "Fun Time," A Zingaro and Houston Llew collaboration.
I have been carving stone for 8 years. It has happened during those years that I am struck with an idea for a sculpture that cannot be safely sculpted in stone because the possibility of breakage is too high. Until now, I have simply abandoned those ideas and moved on. However, the inspiration for “Listen Hard, Walk Softly” was too powerful for me to ignore.
Last year I read a book entitled What the Robin Knows, by Jon Young. This little book is a fascinating manual for understanding what birds are communicating to one another and to other inhabitants of the forest through their songs and actions. I discovered in my reading that I am what Young calls a “bird plow.” I am unable to stifle my exuberance when out hiking and, consequently, disturb all the birds in the area. The birds sing alarm calls to other forest dwellers, and all the wildlife is gone 5 minutes before I arrive at any given location. My husband, Brian, has suggested often that I be quiet and subdued. I try, but never really succeed in containing my joy at being out in Nature. My behavior has a name. This is an embarrassment, a revelation, and a turning point, I hope.
I began to think of the larger context of our culture. Most of the land where I live is paved over with streets and houses and parking lots. Cars travel by my house and studio everyday and make a lot of noise. We are plugged in to our own personal soundtracks with radio and iPods. Our culture is intent on the opposite: we have a tremendous impact on the earth, and do not listen at all.
When I was in Elementary School, my Dad bought land in the woods and had a house built, which we lived in for many years. The woods were home to many white-tailed deer. I often had deer encounters where the deer and I would share eye contact for a couple of seconds until the deer walked or ran away. Those were memorable moments for me. “Listen Hard, Walk Softly” is an amalgam of experiences colliding and mixing together: my shame in being a bird plow, my sadness at the loss of Nature where I live, and the quiet magic of a wild creature. These meditations struck a responsive chord so strong I had to make this sculpture in bronze. The ears would never have survived in stone, and they are the integral element. If I don’t listen, I will never hear.
Playful only begins to describe the work of sculptor Marty Goldstein. The bronze dogs that make up his “Harvey Dogs” series are all full of personality. Every single piece is sculpted with one purpose: to bring laughter and joy to the lives of the people who collect his work. If a piece doesn’t bring a smile to his lips while he is sculpting the clay form, it doesn’t get put through the arduous lost wax process to be cast in bronze.
“Look at a whimsical dog, and for the moment, you forget about the ills of the world, politics and other not-so-nice things,” Goldstein said.
The Art on a Whim galleries in Vail and Breckenridge will host artist receptions for Goldstein on Friday, June 27, and Saturday, June 28. The joy that Goldstein brings to the world through his happy “Harvey Dogs” is always on display in the galleries, but this weekend, Goldstein will be adding his ebullient and humorous personality to the viewing experience.
Art is meant to strike an emotional response in its viewers, and Goldstein’s work does just that. The quizzical faces, soulful eyes and playful poses of his pieces immediately disarm people and bring them right to the innocent, care-free moments of playing with their furry companions. For Goldstein, it takes him back to his childhood, which he spent with two adoring Irish setters.
It seems that Goldstein was always meant to sculpt. It took him 66 years to make it happen, however. He endured the rigors and stress of the corporate world, all the while telling his wife, Barbara, that she needed to remind him to sculpt upon his retirement. She had been told that most retired guys just get in the way of their wives after wrapping up their careers, so Goldstein knew he better find something to do with himself.
At Barbara’s urging, he took a series of sculpting classes at their local art center. From there, a series of 130 limited-edition bronze sculptures was born and a new career was launched. Goldstein has since garnered international acclaim for his creative work. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum even has a piece modeled after the president’s Scottish terrier Fala.
Process of transformation
When Goldstein begins a new sculpture, he isn’t quite sure where it is intended to go. Each piece can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to complete. Add in the several months it takes to transform the sculpted piece from clay to bronze, and when you stop into the Art on a Whim gallery this weekend, you will be looking at a collection that has taken years to amass.
Every piece begins with Goldstein’s determination of the size and pose that he will form. The facial characteristics and priceless expressions are always saved for last. While the perfectly smooth forms and exaggerated features of his dogs comprise a great deal of the work, it is the details that truly bring them to life. They bring a unique personality to each piece, whether it’s in the appearance of inquiring eyes or silly wrinkles.
His piece “Sylvester” stands perched in the downward dog position, ready to play with every willing passer-by. With his head cocked to the side, he seems to always be asking if you are ready to bounce around the room with him. The contented look on the face of “Charlie” compliments his oversized droopy ears, showing one easy-going and happy puppy. Each large piece has bright gold toenails. Why? Just to add a bit of the sparkle that dogs add to our lives.
The bulk of Goldstein’s work is not specific to any breed. Rather, he seeks to capture the essence of innocence and beauty that all canines possess.
“Whimsical dogs remind me that life sometimes gets too serious and that we need a release,” the artist said. “Funny-looking dogs do that for me.”
Goldstein will be in the Art on a Whim Vail gallery on June 27th, 2014 and the Breckenridge Art on a Whim gallery the following afternoon.
Photographer Matt Angiono is showing his nature and action sports images at Art on a Whim Gallery in Vail
Matt Angiono | Special to the Vail Daily
During the GoPro Mountain Games this past year, photographer Matt Angiono trekked straight up Vail Mountain, camera in hand, and was rewarded with a stunning shot of the Gore Range.
“There was a sunset rainbow over the range,” he remembered. “I hiked up and all of a sudden a huge rainbow appeared. The mountains were all orange. It was really cool.”
Angiono had his camera set on a time lapse, which means he got a pretty amazing sequence of photos.
“You can watch the rainbow form. I was getting rained on while I was taking it. I was covering the camera with my jacket and shirt to keep water off the lens. I was like ‘You can’t miss this shot.’”
That photo, along with plenty of other nature photography as well as action-sports oriented shots, is on display at Art on a Whim gallery on Bridge Street in Vail this weekend. In between shooting events such as slopestyle and freestyle kayaking at this years Games, Angiono will be in the gallery discussing his artwork.
This past year, Angiono took the top prize in two of the photography categories in the Mountain Games photography competition with one photo. The photograph features “Sketchy” Andy Lewis as he performs in the Slackline World Championships. It was the first time Angiono had ever photographed slacklining. Lewis is shown mid-air and mid-flip in front of an awe-struck crowd and the Water Tree sculpture in Vail Village. The sun seems to serve as a point of rotation for Lewis as he performs his gravity defying trick.
“I like to shoot into the sun, get that back lit shadow effect,” said Angiono, who is always hunting for what he calls “epic light.” He took the photo using his Go Pro and entered a color version and a black and white version of the same photo in two different categories.
“It won best Go Pro action shot and best Go Pro moment,” Angiono said.
The shot speaks to the focus, determination and daring all needed for athletes to perform at their highest level, on the highest stage.
Composing the canopy
Angiono has photographed events at the Mountain Games for the past five years, he said, but he’s primarily a nature photographer.
“I want people to look and have a connection with nature,” he said. “That’s a big part of my motivation — inspiring people to be outside, enjoy the outdoors, take care of them, all that good stuff.”
“Buena Vista Aspen Canopy,” perhaps Angiono’s signature piece to date, was taken while he spent a day lying on his back looking for the perfect combination of composition and light. The piece has the viewer staring straight up into a golden canopy of aspen leaves back dropped by a bluebird sky. An enormous 40-inch-by-50-inch version of the photo is on display at Art on a Whim.
“The piece is incredible,” said Art on a Whim gallery owner Brian Raitman who is good friends with Angiono. “You see a lot of photographers shoot similar compositions and, in all honesty, they are far from being on the same level. It is one of those pieces that instantly sucks you in. The colors exemplify that perfect bluebird, classic Colorado fall day and the piece is a wonderful mix of realism and abstraction, which I find is very hard to capture with photography.”
You never see Angiono without his camera, Raitman said, and he’s an expert at finding art in all of his surroundings.
“He has a way of capturing light that is very surreal and sublime at the same time,” Raitman said. “His depth of field is incredible. Details are always vivid in his work, to the point that you can pick out rock croppings on a distant mountain in a small print. You can tell he works hard for his shots too, as many of them come from hard to reach wilderness areas. Others come from the simplest of places, like his backyard.”
Here's a great article that ran in the Summit Daily recently:
On occasion, though not frequently enough, art derives its sole purpose from putting a smile on its viewer’s faces. Such is the case with the work of Talia Swartz. Her international acclaim for creating lively cityscapes and landscapes is derived in large part from the uplifting personalities each of her original paintings possesses. Swartz’s work has the ability to transport us into a world in which buildings, trees and mountains have enough rhythm and vibrancy to make us feel like children again. Simply put, her work makes people smile.
The artist will be in the Art on a Whim gallery on Saturday, April 12, and Sunday, April 13, greeting visitors and demonstrating her work. She will be working on a collection of miniature paintings inspired by her time in the mountains.
Swartz’s love of children’s books and their colorful illustrations inform and inspire her work. She relishes in bringing an animated style to each new piece. Fittingly, she loves sharing art with children, too. When she is not busy adding spirited swaths of color to a new piece, she can be found teaching children how to do what she does. This love of the innocent side of the art world is ever present in her work. The joy she is able to communicate through paint is infectious, as well. Students of “Miss Talia” love seeing her gallery shows and light up when they enter a room filled with her work.
Buildings twisted into intriguing shapes and painted with brilliant colors, often framed in angular and completely nontraditional frames, comprise the majority of Swartz’s subjects over the years. She finds that a city or town’s true character comes from the inanimate structures that become permanent fixtures of a place. As such, people will not make appearances in her paintings.
Due to finding inspiration in the lines, angles and shapes that form a town, she is able to take signature parts of the places she paints and make them entirely her own. For example, “Main Street,” a depiction of downtown Breckenridge, features the symbolic angular roofline that the town has become known for. In addition, as is the case with each Breckenridge-based painting Swartz has created over the years, the whimsical purple peace signs on a white building add a touch of character to the piece. The painting’s bright colors bring the piece to life, portraying Breckenridge as the happy little ski town that it is.
Swartz’s fascination with architecture stems from her upbringing in Ohio. Having lived in Colorado for the better part of a decade, the beautiful state has found itself working inspiration into her collection, as well. Much of the work she is showing today takes the focus off of architecture and puts it on the landscapes that make Colorado so stunning.
Energetic, fun and peaceful scenes depicting mountains, aspens, flowers, campsites and more have all been painted in Swartz’s signature animated style. “Rendezvous” shows aspens and peaks bathed in a beautiful blue moonlit glow. The aspen grove is home to a campsite, and a playful fire brings warmth to the piece. “Paintbrush Passing” presents a winding mountain road underneath a golden sunset. Recently bloomed stands of Indian paintbrush add a splash of red to the piece, reminding us that summer is just around the corner.
Below is a fantastic article that just ran in the Summit Daily. Lelija will be demonstrating today and tomorrow in the Breckenridge gallery.
It is safe to say that artist Lelija Roy is obsessed with aspens. After moving to Colorado 10 years ago, she quickly developed a deep affinity for the tree. An aspen grove’s striking white and black trunks, shimmering textures and changing leaf colors combine to form the heart of Lelija’s richly textured landscapes. Add in some of the Rocky Mountains’ most iconic peaks, and you have an artist whose skilled hands perfectly capture the wonder of the High Country.
This weekend, the Art on a Whim gallery is filled with Lelija’s wondrous aspen groves and silky summits; paintings depicting every season populate the gallery. Lelija’s newest collection provides viewers with a glimpse into each part of the year in the High Country. In the midst of an epic snow year, her winter scenes sparkle with metallic and iridescent paints. Her fall scenes show Summit County when the leaves are golden, giving those not lucky enough to visit in September or October a peek into the golden canopies that cover our forests. Summer and spring pieces warm up the space with a splash of vibrant color and the deep textures for which Lelija has received worldwide acclaim.
“What intrigues me about aspens is that when you are in a grove, you are in the middle of a single organism,” Lelija said. “Each grove is a sisterhood unto itself.”
Aspens are unique trees. Every aspen grove is indeed composed of a single, connected organism. The oldest and heaviest organism on Earth is said to be an aspen grove. Aspen forests thrive at elevations above 5,000 feet, making them a staple of Colorado’s mountain towns. Given such a unique tree, it takes a unique approach to truly capture its beauty.
Lelija’s work is composed of multiple layers, much like one would find while walking through the forest. She fuses layer upon layer of painted rice papers, silk, lace and other fabrics with acrylic paints, pastels, ink and more to create her dreamy aspen groves. Lelija’s trees are made from individual strands of hand-painted rice paper. This provides viewers with the feeling of discovering unique trees amongst the whole of the grove. Her mountains and rocks are often composed of silk and lace, softening each piece into a serene and peaceful scene. Acrylic paints are combined with color-shifting metallic and iridescent paints to capture the ever-changing light one witnesses while observing an aspen grove.
Highlights of her current show include “Winter Waterfall,” a purple and blue depiction of an ice-covered Sawmill Creek running down the side of Peak 8 in Breckenridge. “By the Light of the Moon” presents a mountainous landscape on which the moonlight shimmers on a fresh layer of snow and the sky changes from purple to black as viewers move past the piece. The show stopper is the largest piece Lelija has created to date, a 5 foot tall by 12 foot wide piece showing the Grand Tetons in all of their glory, titled “Teton Majesty.”
The end result of Lelija’s efforts has found her work collected throughout the world. She invites curious art lovers to watch her paint this weekend at Art on a Whim, take in her creativity and “step into the next part of what the wilderness will offer you.”
Matt Angiono found his calling as a photographer on a trip to Australia in 2006. His aunt Laura took him around the continent, backpacking and camping for two months. The adventure travel, combined with a camera Angiono borrowed a friend, saw him fall instantly in love. Today, the combination influences almost every single waking moment for the young artist.
Angiono was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado. As a result, the vast majority of his fine art photography captures the beauty of his home state. Both this weekend and next he will be spending his time in the Art on a Whim gallery in Breckenridge, regaling visitors with stories of his adventures and sharing his unique vision.
Angiono’s newest release, titled “Epic Isabelle Sunset Part II,” comes from the last evening of a journey the photographer took in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. As is often the case with Angiono’s backpacking trips, the plan was to hike as much as possible and stop any time the inspiration for another incredible photograph happened to strike. Brainard Lake was to be the starting point, with Lone Eagle Peak as the ultimate destination. This meant a three day out and back over Pawnee Pass was in order. While difficult hiking and a 3,000 plus foot vertical gain was a planned obstacle, a malfunctioning camera battery was certainly not anticipated. As a result, Angiono’s shot selection quickly became extremely limited and his camera seemed to be nothing more than extra weight.
An unspectacular sunset and sunrise on the first day and night of the trip left much to be desired. Of course, one cannot complain when they are blessed enough to spend the night in the wilderness. Hail can change that attitude quickly, however. Day two of his trip saw the weather turn for the worst, as it often can when traversing 12,000 plus foot passes. Shortly after descending from the top of the pass the sky opened up and hail began pouring down. Angiono rushed to find some semblance of shelter, eventually scaling a cliff side to take refuge under its overhang. A debate ensued over whether or not it would be wise to set up camp in the storm or to wait in hopes that it may pass. Thoughts of climbing and shooting Lone Eagle Peak at sunset were quickly abandoned and replaced with ideas on keeping as warm and dry as possible. The storm hung around through the night, eventually forcing Angiono to pitch his tent in the dark and in the rain.
When morning arrived the sun managed to burn its way through the clouds, albeit not in time for sunrise. A staple in Angiono’s work is capturing incredible light, making sunrise and sunset the most important times of day for the photographer. At this point, with twelve miles to go and nearly fifty pounds to carry on his back, the trip seemed to be a bust. The camera battery’s issues hardly seemed relevant. A wonderful day was in the wings, however.
Sun beamed down throughout the afternoon. As Angiono climbed and descended Pawnee Pass for the second time in two days it became clear that the sunset was going to present what he refers to as “epic light.”
Tired legs didn’t seem to matter anymore as he began running to position himself at the front of the beautiful Lake Isabelle. Angiono is known for doing anything necessary to get the best angle for his work. Wading knee deep into a stream is far from being out of the question. He carefully staged his tripod in the middle of the stream flowing from the lake, just on top of a nearly 100 foot waterfall, and asked his camera battery for one small moment of cooperation. The sunset to follow was incredible. The camera battery managed to work for just long enough to capture what Angiono describes as, “the most incredible sunset I have ever seen.”
The resulting photographs exist as living proof that if you push yourself, work hard and remain patient, the sky can greet you with miracles. Fiery reds, hot pinks and glowing oranges danced across Navajo, Apache and Shoshone Peaks. All the while the colors were reflected in the glass like stillness of the lake.
Angiono does extremely minimal post-processing to his work, preferring to let the camera capture what he sees and communicate that to his viewers. He is known for pushing his equipment to its technical limits and ambitiously exploring the dynamic range of his camera. His eye for detail and addiction to color enable his viewers to feel like they were standing there with him while he was shooting the photo. His out of the box ways of thinking and viewing the world are reflected not only in the unique angles he shoots from but also in the way in which he presents his work. He opts to gallery wrap the majority of his canvases, rather than frame them, to allow the photos to bleed over the edges of the canvas and seemingly go on forever. Printing on canvas gives his work a painterly feel, softening the scenes and providing an ethereal quality not often seen in photography.
Angiono’s adventurous nature has led him on countless journeys deep into the Rocky Mountain’s pristine wilderness. Capturing the areas he frequents on camera enables him to provide us with the opportunity to forever keep nature at our finger tips. Moments like his evening at Lake Isabelle are certainly worth preserving and sharing with the world. And he will be quick to tell you, it was well worth hiking the remainder of the trail in the pitch dark.
Here is a great article that ran in the Summit Daily about Carol Fennell showing in our Breckenridge gallery:
Artist Carol Fennell is prone to drawing inspiration from her surroundings. Lucky for Fennell and viewers of her work alike, she lives among the dramatic landscapes of Colorado. Fennell strives to capture the innocence of nature in her work. Her three-dimensional ceramic paintings stretch not only our view of our natural surroundings, but also our ideas of how fine art can be presented.
Fennell’s work is on display in the Art on a Whim Gallery in Breckenridge. For the next two weekends, she will be in the gallery demonstrating her work and elaborating on her process. Through the use of bold color and effortless line work, Fennell captures the whimsical essence of our environments. She brings her playful spirit to every piece, rather than depicting exact representations in the landscapes she creates.
“With mountains, aspens and pine in my constant view, I seek to use the strongest, yet simplest form to represent my subject,” Fennell said. “I never tire of drawing the elegant lines of aspen or the whimsical pines that fill my canvas. All these subjects have stories to tell, and I try to bring a bit of the innocence and whimsy that I see in them into the piece.”
Fennell’s work stems from the pure, trouble-free and serene experience of walking through an aspen grove, climbing a peak or discovering a new lake. When inspiration strikes while on a hike, she will either sketch the landscape en plein air or capture the scene on camera. The sketches and photos are transformed into more polished pencil drawings upon Fennell’s return to her studio. Quick and bright strokes of color are added to the drawings to further enhance the reference.
The real work begins when Fennell pulls out slabs of clay and rolls them into canvas-sized blocks. Lines forming rivers, lakes or mountains are carved into the surface of the wet slabs, and her bas-relief work has commenced. By incorporating sculpted clay, she adds layers of texture to the top of the initial block to provide dimension.
From there, pines start twisting toward each other, seemingly lost in conversation. Knots are added to aspen trunks, and items found in nature, such as grass, leaves or bits of wood, are often pressed into the wet clay to leave the impression of their existence in the natural world.
Upon completing her process of carving and sculpting, Fennell allows her work to dry for several weeks. This allows moisture to evaporate from the once-soft clay. Each piece is then carefully placed in a kiln and fired. The bas-relief tiles come out of the kiln bisque ware, as a durable ceramic piece ready to be painted. Fennell’s use of acrylic paints pushes the limits of traditional ceramic work. This choice allows for vibrant colors, helping to enhance the happy, playful look Fennell is striving to create.
“I want the viewer to see what I see — a whimsical innocence of nature,” she said.
This is a great article that ran in the Vail Daily over the weekend:
Meet artists Houston Llew and Chris Lundy at Vail gallery
Through the use of innovative techniques and the mastery of ancient art forms, Houston Llew and Chris Lundy have risen to the top of the long list of America’s most talented and collected young artists. Both artists will show their work at Art on a Whim galleries in Vail Village this weekend.
It was a journey westward that marked a transformative experience in Llew’s life. Fueling his Winnebago along the way with the occasional poker game, Llew eventually landed in Santa Fe, New Mexico and met his mentor, the master enamelist Zingaro, who introduced Llew to the ancient world of vitreous enamel.
Bringing Together FIRED GLASS AND METAL
Vitreous enamel is the luminous combination of fired glass on metal. Its history dates back to artifacts found in the ruins of ancient Greece, China and the Isle of Man. In both Zingaro and Llew’s work, it is the application of molten glass layered onto blocks of copper. When Llew first fired his own designs in a kiln, he knew he had found himself as an artist.
Llew’s discovery of vitreous enamel launched him to the forefront of emerging American artists and spawned his creation of Spiritiles late in 2008. Created with the vitreous enamel process, Llew begins each piece by shaping and sizing a block of copper mined from the American southwest. Next, he forms colored bits of glass into the designs seen on his finished Spiritiles. The tiles are kiln-fired to hold the glass in its final, beautiful resting place on top of the durable copper. For the final part of the process, Llew intentionally cracks each piece to provide a rustic look to an otherwise contemporary looking medium.
Perhaps the most interesting part of each Spiritile is the quote found on its golden sides. For example, Llew’s depiction of fluttering birds titled “Aloft” reads, “To our children we give two things — one is roots, the other wings,” by Hodding Carter. His heart design reads, “I carry your heart with me. I carry it in my heart,” an E.E. Cummings quote. And Llew’s bicycle piece “Brilliant Ride” states, “I thought of that while riding my bicycle,” since Albert Einstein had some great ideas while riding his bicycle. Llew signs the bottom of each piece.
Works by CHRIS LUNDY
Chris Lundy creates multidimensional, mixed-media paintings that reflect his love for the universe as a whole. As a master and innovator of the modern illuminist technique, Lundy’s work is all about reflection.
Modern illuminism is a far-from-common artistic style. In fact, research shows that Lundy is one of only a handful of people in the world working in the style. While contemporary in approach, composition and form, the art form traces its earliest roots to Renaissance painter Matthias Grunewald and later to masters such as Rembrant and William Turner.
At its core, and at the core of every one of Lundy’s original works, modern illuminism is defined by the art of reflecting light through painting. The glue that holds Lundy’s collection together and truly separates him from his artistic counterparts is the multi-dimensional, luminescent, color changing, light refracting properties found in every new creation.
Lundy combines epoxy resins with various mediums to create his pieces. Many viewers mistake Lundy’s works for blown glass, sand, geodes, marble or other beautiful, naturally occurring materials that have been manipulated and shaped into form on canvas. The reflective quality in Lundy’s work comes from the fact that his pieces are anywhere from a single layer to 15 layers deep. Every Lundy piece changes with the amount of lighting shown on the painting, giving his work a chameleon-like effect as it interacts with the light in the room.
Much of Lundy’s new work takes inspiration from his fascination with crystals and the energy they are said to create. His piece “Whispers of Winter” conveys the beauty the artist finds in nature, while maintaining Lundy’s sense of surrealism and imagination. Incorporated into the sculpted tree Lundy shaped into the piece’s focal point are Swarovski crystals and pieces of amethyst. The movement and cool colors in the piece invoke a sense of the passing of the old while stepping into the new.
Here's a great article that ran in the Summit Daily while Mary Kollman was showing in our Breckenridge gallery:
Painter Mary Kollman is well-known for her oil depictions of big skies floating over serene landscapes. A color enthusiast, each of Kollman’s paintings is alive with brilliant shades of every color under the sun. Rich tones and intriguing textures are staples in her body of work, and each piece evokes the feeling of a wonderful memory.
Kollman has been painting in the Art on a Whim gallery in Breckenridge every weekend since Thanksgiving. This weekend marks the close of her show and a final opportunity to meet the artist and browse her newest works.
“I love to talk to patrons, as it’s so inspiring for new paintings,” Kollman said. “Painting is like breathing for me, I’ve got to do it!”
Kollman recently moved back to Colorado and is erecting her studio in Grand Junction. Her showing at Art on a Whim seems to be driven by fate just as much as talent. She stumbled across the gallery’s website and read about the owners, the Raitman family, discovering that they had much in common. It turns out that they used to live only a few blocks from each other in a small town outside of Portland, Ore. This connection, coupled with the fact that Kollman’s paintings are a perfect fit for Art on a Whim, led to the show at the gallery.
On display is a collection of Kollman’s signature big-sky landscapes, several of which express the emotions she felt upon her first visit to Breckenridge. “Anticipation,” a 20-inch-by-20-inch oil painting, captures the excitement of driving down Highway 9 and seeing the ski resort beckon in the distance.
Her painting “Sanctuary” gives viewers the same peaceful and welcoming vibe that so many visitors to our mountains are greeted with. Having found inspiration in all the skiers and snowboarders she has met over the past several
weekends, Kollman has been spending her time in the gallery painting riders buried waist deep in powder or launching themselves off of cliffs.
“My paintings transfer a good memory,” Kollman said. “There’s a feeling of wholeness, goodness and peace. I try to get out of the way and let the painting unfold. It’s like learning to ride a bike and trusting gravity. I have sustained courage and try to bring the magic to what I’m creating.”
Here is a great little article that ran in the Vail Daily today:
The Art on a Whim gallery in Vail is currently exhibiting work by two artists: Lelija Roy and Ellen Woodbury. Both artists have gained worldwide acclaim for working with traditional subjects in a wholly atypical fashion.
Roy is notorious for her self-described obsession with aspens. She loves the look and textures of the trees; the way their leaves shimmer in the wind never ceases to amaze her. Perhaps the largest source of inspiration for her work is the fact that every aspen grove is a single organism. She loves the sisterhood concept that she finds in the serenity of an aspen forest, she said.
Roy fuses layer upon layer of painted rice papers, silk, lace and other fabrics with acrylic paints, pastels, ink and more to create her dreamlike aspen groves. Each piece consists of approximately two dozen layers in all. Roy’s trees are made from individual strands of hand-painted rice paper. This provides viewers with the feeling of discovering unique trees amongst the whole of the grove. Her mountains and rocks are often made from silk and lace, giving each piece a feeling of suppleness not often found in the art world. Acrylic paints are combined with color shifting metallic and iridescent paints to capture the changing light one experiences while observing an aspen grove.
For six weeks, Roy has been painting in the Art on a Whim show space on a near daily basis. Given the mix of materials Roy combines to create her work, watching her work can easily be likened to watching a forest grow. It is a fascinating experience. The end result of her efforts has found her work collected throughout the world.
Woodbury spent the majority of her career working as a directing animator at Disney. Name a Disney movie made from the late 1980s to early 2000s, and she has worked on it. Highlights include “Aladdin,” “The Little Mermaid,” “The Lion King” and many more. In 2005, Woodbury left her career at Disney to pursue a stronger passion. These days she spends several hundreds of hours carving stylized animals out of precious and exotic stones.
Woodbury’s work speaks to the innocence in its viewers. The Disney connection is evident in each piece she creates.
“I apply my knowledge of and experience in animation to my process of designing and carving stone,” Woodbury said. “I think of my creative life as an ascending spiral where one medium inspires and informs another.”
“Squash and Stretch,” a lovely depiction of white tailed ptarmigans made from Sivec and Mogolian Imperial Black Marble, is named after one of the most important ingredients in Disney animation. It is defined by change in shape with no change in volume. Soft curves and crisp edges highlight “Squash and Stretch,” causing light to play over the surfaces to gently reveal the variety of forms and the crystals in the marble. Also on display in the Art on a Whim show space is a Phoenix, coyote, blue bird, a frog and two zebras. Each piece is one-of-a-kind and uniquely whimsical. Woodbury does not believe in editions for sculptures and once she creates a piece it is never to be cast or recreated again.
Both artists thoroughly enjoy explaining their techniques and inviting collectors, new and old, to browse their works. Their show is housed in a 900-plus square foot show space in the heart of Vail Village. The Art on a Whim gallery is the newest gallery in Vail. For more information visit artonawhim.com or call 970-476-4883.
The Art on a Whim Gallery has arrived in Vail with a unique concept. Art should be fun. It should make us smile. While beauty is ever present in the Art on a Whim collection, the gallery derives its distinctive presence from the belief that pushing the envelope and having fun while doing so is what makes art worthwhile. As a result, you would be hard pressed to leave their Bridge Street locations without a smile on your face.
Art on a Whim opened in Breckenridge in 2007, gaining acclaim and a strong following on the other side of Vail Pass. The gallery is a family-owned business and one of the Raitmans is always on hand to provide an intriguing tour through their collection. In addition, each weekend throughout the winter season one or more of the gallery’s artists will be on hand offering demonstrations and in-depth explanations about their techniques.
The Raitman family set upon naming their gallery Art on a Whim for a multitude of reasons. For one, the idea of opening a gallery was just a dream for the family for a number of years. In 2007 they woke up one day and decided, on a whim, that making the dream of owning a fine art gallery would be a great idea. Given the gallery’s name, and the Raitman’s propensity for showing work that makes people smile, there are several artists with permanent homes in the collection that create work which can certainly be described as whimsical. For example, DD LaRue’s “Dog in a VW Door” sculptures of dogs hanging their furry heads out of car windows are certainly off the wall, quirky and fun. Art on a Whim is also a testament to those of us who love to, on a whim, look at art. Discovering an impressive collection in the heart of Vail Village is a great way to spend the day.
The two brand new gallery spaces mean a wide array of new artists have been introduced to Vail this season. Most of Art on a Whim’s artists make their homes right here in Colorado. Upon the opening of the new gallery spaces, Lelija Roy decided to make her home in Vail for the onset of the winter season. She can be seen painting her richly textured mixed-media aspen scenes in the gallery’s show space every day. Roy combines up to twenty layers of hand-made rice papers, fabrics, acrylics, india inks and more to perfectly capture Colorado’s most stunning scenery. Artists like Chris Lundy and Cynthia Duff provide a unique flair to the gallery through their use of untypical mediums to create deep, reflective resin paintings and bent birch wood wall sculptures, respectively. Alex Gupton, Tracy Felix and Robert Bissell bring fun to the collection with phenomenally detailed pieces showing musical instruments inside of music notes, marshmallow clouds floating through the mountains and bears playing in landscapes resembling our ideals of Eden. The gallery features approximately 20 artists and ensures that each well-regarded and accomplished artist finds a niche within the gallery. This both distinguishes each artist within the gallery and the gallery as a whole, making Art on a Whim a lovely addition to the Vail Village’s world-class collection of galleries.
This Friday Art on a Whim welcomes you to join in the spirit of the holiday season and celebrate the opening of their new locations. The Raitman family and several of the gallery’s artists will be on hand to help spread joy and prepare to ring in the New Year. Artist talks will take place throughout the evening and food and drinks will be served to help commemorate the gallery’s grand opening. Art on a Whim is located at 227 Bridge Street and 286 Bridge Street. The party will take place from 4 to 8 pm and all are invited!
Why do we have a new website? There are many reasons for it, but the primary reason is security. Our new website allows us to provide the highest level of online shopping protection you can find on the web. With Level 1 PCI compliance, you can be assured your information is always secure. This allows us to offer something we've always wanted for our frequent online shoppers: the ability to create a customer account for our site. This will allow you to safely store your information and greatly reduce the amount of time you spend checking out of your online shopping cart by eliminating the need to retype your information for every purchase you make through our site. You'll be able to add multiple ship to addresses, select your shipping method and see shipping costs prior to checkout, use discount codes and more. It should make the online ordering process much, much easier.
It will also be much easier to find the artwork you're looking for on our site. With the search bar in the top right corner of your screen you can type any keyword that might help you find the piece you're looking for. Let's say you want to find a painting but only remember part of the title. You can type in the part you remember and the search will scan our entire site for those keywords and direct you to the right place. Looking for a Spiritile but only remember that it was a Confucius quote? No problem - just type "Confucius" into the search bar and you'll see 024 - Wheel of Fortune and 063 - Wind Dancer. There are two pages of Spiritiles, so if you're looking through all of them, make sure to click on to the second page!
This new site also has better navigation features. Our Art on a Whim online gallery is now a picture gallery so you can match an artist's name to their style of work. No more clicking on every artist name or category until you find what you're looking for; it'll be right in front of your eyes as soon as you click on Online Gallery. If you know the artist you're looking for ahead of time, you can also use the Artists drop down menu and go straight to that artist's page from our home screen.
Another great navigation feature of our new site is the ability to filter through an artist's collection. If you want to just see the music themed Spiritiles, just click on the drop down box next to "Browse" on the right side of the screen and select "Music."
This site allows us to add something a lot of you have asked for and you are currently reading: a blog! We'll have guest blogs from our artists, which will give you great insight into their creation process and ideas behind individual pieces. Over time we will also add videos and more images of the gallery to help you connect more with our gallery.
There will also be multiple images for most pieces. This will allow us to show you different angles of pieces, or the piece with just the image and also a view with it in its frame. Just click on the thumbnails next to each image to see the different view.
A fantastic feature of this site is that it's also optimized for viewing on a mobile device. Images will automatically resize to your smart phone's screen and eliminate the need for zooming in and out to get the right view. You'll be able to order directly from your phone as well!
If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or just want to chat, feel free to give us a call: