Kenneth Ober artwork on display through June in Steamboat |

Kenneth Ober artwork on display through June in Steamboat

Artist finds simplicity in a complex process

Nicole Inglis
Artist Kenneth Ober will have his work featured this month at the K. Saari Gallery in a show curated by Kimberly Saari, back left, and Nancy Jeffrey. The show will end with a reception for the artist at 8 p.m. Friday.
John F. Russell

— In Los Angeles, abstract painter Kenneth Ober said, there’s no sense of distance. People flit in and out of boxy buildings, confined by skylines and structures.

But in his paintings, he reaches beyond that tangible space, into a meditative place that is intricate and complex in process but as simple as the beauty of the natural world that inspires him.

“Like a hill or an ocean, it looks simple in a big, graphic way, but everything in nature is so microscopic and depends on every other thing,” he said. “And people are the same way.”

Three series of Ober’s abstract work appear in a cohesive solo show titled “Shortest Distance BTN2PTS,” at K. Saari Gallery this month.

The show, curated by gallery owner Kimberly Saari and local artist Nancy Jeffrey, runs through June 27. There will be an opening reception is Firday night during First Friday Artwalk that features 15 local galleries and venues showcasing local and national artwork.

Ober connected with Saari through his wife, Renee Fox, who has been represented by the local gallery for years. This will be his first show in Steamboat Springs.

The shortest distance between two points is, of course, a straight line, and that’s what Ober uses to create his work. With a small, cylindrical metal device used to draw pinstripes on automobiles, Ober paints thousands of lines in various orientations and configurations, slowly mixing and evolving colors as he works on several paintings at a time.

Using a technique similar to pointillism — but with lines instead — Ober’s intricate process produces work that taps into different optical reactions when viewed from close up or from afar.

At a distance, the paintings are vast and somewhat monochromatic, bearing strong references to the natural structure he depicts with grasslands, seascapes, starscapes and mandala themes.

But the subtle depths of color come into focus as one approaches his work.

“I’m a minimalist in that I like them to be active up close, but resolve into something calm,” he said.

While the show features several themes — the mandalas are exclusively black and white, the starscapes are particularly abstract and the grasslands strong in green and brown hues — both curators are thrilled with the way the show is pulled together by the thin, sweeping lines.

“I’ve seen his work for years, but I’ve never really connected to it until he made this turn three or four years ago,” Jeffrey said. “Now, I’m obsessed. You can really see the meditative aspect, and it’s so sophisticated.”

Ober said that when people look up close at his paintings, there is often a bit of disbelief at the sheer mass of tiny lines that create the layers and texture in his work.

Each piece, he said, can take 40 to 50 hours.

“You can see every mark,” he said. “It has a little bit of shock value.”

Artwalk listings

❱❱ Artists’ Gallery of Steamboat, 1009 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-4744

Plein air painter Susan Gill Jackson unveils oil paintings from across the Yampa Valley. Sandy Graves, collaborating with Ivy McNulty, of Gunnison, unveils necklaces of braided horsehair paired with bronze sculptures to make jewelry.

❱❱ Colorado Group Realty, 509 Lincoln Ave., 970-875-2917

Corey Kopischke’s landscape photographs consist of iconic Steamboat vistas in panoramic format. Visit

❱❱ Comb Goddess, 1104 S. Lincoln Ave., Suite 102, 970-871-0606

Artwork by Lane Schrock, whose primary painting medium is watercolor, with some oil and acrylic.

❱❱ Creekside Cafe, 131 11th St., 970-879-4925

Megan Morgan shows her love of bicycles with playful art on burlap. There will be complimentary snacks and wine. 

❱❱ East West Frame Shop, 810 Lincoln Ave., No. 3, in the alley, 970-879-5225

Michelle Ideus offers bold, beautiful colors on canvas. Semi-precious stones, feathers, and silver handcrafted jewelry by Julia Hebard. There will be wine and appetizers.

❱❱ Harwigs/L’Apogee, 911 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-1919

Local equine and ranch photographer Diane Panetta welcomes horse-lovers and non-horse-lovers to enjoy her work in the upstairs gallery at Harwigs. A portion of sales will be donated to Rescued to Ride, a nonprofit serving rescue horses in need.

❱❱ Images of Nature, 730 Lincoln Ave., 970-871-1822

Thomas D. Mangelsen’s nature and wildlife photographs are displayed.

❱❱ Jim Steinberg Photography/Portfolio Collection, 1016 Oak St., 970-879-3718

Photographs of Colorado in early spring and summer.

❱❱ K. Saari Gallery, 837 Lincoln Ave., 970-870-0188

The Shortest Distance BTN2PTS, an abstract show by Kenneth Ober.

❱❱ Off the Beaten Path, 68 Ninth St., 970-879-6830

Featuring a collection of whimsical birdhouses designed and built by Steve Cobb with the help of Jack Ringer, a fifth-grader and Cobb’s junior partner with Partners in Routt County.

❱❱ Sleeping Giant Gallery, 601 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-7143

Local art by nature photographer Don Tudor, raku-fired stoneware and porcelain by Brown Cannon and turned wooden bowls from beetle-killed pine by Roger Ross.

❱❱ Steamboat Art Museum, 807 Lincoln Ave., 970-870-1755

The Steamboat Art Museum will celebrate the opening of its summer show featuring landscape artist Scott Christensen.

❱❱ Steamboat Springs Center for Visual Arts, 906 Lincoln Ave., 970-846-5970

“Primavera”: Cherie Duty unveils textured florals in impasto. New works by 45 local artists and welcoming new exhibiting artists Gavin Graham, Nancy Porter, Don Schwartz and Keri Searls. There will be complimentary wine and appetizers.

❱❱ Wild Horse Gallery, 802 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-5515

Wild Horse Gallery will be open and featuring works by its gallery artists. Visit

❱❱ Urbane, 703 Lincoln Ave., Suite B101, 970-879-9169

Urbane presents intricate woodwork from Brian Leach, digital mixed media from Justin Hirsch and graffiti work from “Dizzy Deleanquint.”

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