Inspiration and imitation at this month’s First Friday Artwalk in downtown Steamboat |

Inspiration and imitation at this month’s First Friday Artwalk in downtown Steamboat

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Creates is adding a new twist to its latest exhibit at the Depot Art Center. The new March show, titled “Interpretations Through a Visual Lens,” is a collaboration between the arts nonprofit and Steamboat Art Museum.

Steamboat Creates artists were asked to visit the current exhibit at Steamboat Art Museum, “Four Directions, Common Paths,” and choose one piece to create their own interpretation of the master’s work in their own medium.

“We’ve never done something like this before,” said Barb King, visual arts coordinator for Steamboat Creates. “I was a little nervous that our artists wouldn’t be interested in doing something like this — that they wouldn’t want to remake someone else’s work. But it was so much of a success that we’ll probably do it again next year.”

King’s worries turned out to be irrelevant as Steamboat Creates had 22 artists participate in the show, which King says is up from their average of 11 to 15.

Using mediums such as clay, paper, oils and watercolors, the 22 artists recreated scenes from the original artist’s work.

The four artists who are on display at the Steamboat Art Museum are leading western plein air and landscape artists Ralph Oberg, Matt Smith, Dan Young and Skip Whitcomb. Their show represents 30 years of kinship, adventure and masterworks.

Johannah Hildebrand, one of the Steamboat Creates artists, said she was thrilled by the collaboration and was excited to participate after viewing the Steamboat Art Museum exhibit when she was in town this winter. Originally a painter, she has transitioned to mostly creating handcut paper works.

“It was especially fun for me to try to translate a painting into a paper work,” Hildebrand said of her choice, Ralph Oberg’s painting “Above Chamonix.”

She explained that when painting, it is not only the composition that is considered but also the contrast of colors.

“Most of my paper works are less focused on the color in the actual work. It was a fun challenge to bring color into the mix and try to create a piece for which I was already given the composition and the color scheme,” she said. “Challenge often creates change and can be both hard and enlightening. I have been playing with the idea of layers in my paper works for a few months, and this challenge kind of forced me to sort it out and embrace the concept I had been only puzzling over theoretically.”

Dona Steele, another participating artist, chose Dan Young’s piece “Just Passing Through,” because she said it literally thrilled her and gave her goosebumps.

“His painting of the water opening up through the snow captures a particular moment in nature. I knew that trying to recreate it would be challenging,” Steele said.

She notes that rather than trying to imitate Young’s work, she was trying to create her own interpretation of it with a different choice of mediums. In her piece, she used a wood panel layered with different mediums such as oils and soft pastels, acrylics and watercolors plus tissue paper.

The exhibit will be on display in the Depot Art Center’s Bliss Hall through March 28. Those attending First Friday Artwalk are encouraged to stop by both the Depot Art Center and Steamboat Art Museum to see the original paintings as well as the interpretations.

Also at the Depot Art Center, in the main gallery, Riverwalk Collective will feature three new artists this month. Photographer Debbie McCulliss, sculptor Jon Ashburn and painter Jan Rastall will join nine other artists who display their work year-round in the gallery.

Rastall says it’s a high honor to be associated with the artists of the Riverwalk Collective. When she retired in 2012, her goal was to focus on creating art.

“I spent roughly 45 years in Fort Collins working in a career and raising a family, so my creative work was always on the sideline,” she said. “I am thrilled to now live in Steamboat where there is a vibrant arts community with the Depot Art Center serving as the hub.”

After earning a bachelor of fine arts in 2017, she began painting in oils, en plein air and in her studio.

“I enjoy plein air painting for the immediacy of the experience,” she said. “I also enjoy reflections on water because of the abstract qualities found through light.”

Viewers will also find her paintings featuring historic buildings in Routt County, such as schoolhouses and churches, as well as lighthouses on coasts. In her studio, she focuses on vistas from mountain summits.

“I climbed a lot of the 14ers in Colorado and use photographs I have taken,” she explained. “I deconstruct photographs into compositions that at times are playful and lyrical and other times lean toward realism.”

This Friday’s Artwalk also includes exhibits at Jace Romick Gallery, Gallery 89, The Standard, W Gallery, Wildhorse Gallery, Mangelsen’s, Solar Flare Fine Art, Tread of Pioneers Museum and Pine Moon Fine Art, which is featuring a new exhibit of paintings by artist Carol Jean.

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