Local artists, Steamboat Creates collaborate on another downtown mural | SteamboatToday.com

Local artists, Steamboat Creates collaborate on another downtown mural

Greg Effinger turned a sketch by Ben Rock into a mural as part of Steamboat Creates' initiative to add murals downtown. The mural is behind Straightline Sports on Eighth Street between Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street. (Photo by Shelby Reardon)

Over the past two weeks, Greg Effinger has been working on a mural behind Straightline Sports in downtown Steamboat Springs. Every once in a while, a group of kids will speed by on skateboards, scooters or bikes and shout, “Nice painting!”

He’s not sure how they see it, zooming by as they do, but he enjoys the compliment nonetheless. Effinger painted for two weeks to complete the newest public art installment visible along Eighth Street between Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street. He’s adding color and his own take to a sketch by Ben Rock with a theme worthy of Straightline Sports.

The piece is bright and bubbly and cartoon-like. It contains no straight lines and nearly every color of the rainbow. It’s everything Yampa Valley residents know and love — vibrant aspens, rushing water, majestic elk, jumping fish and snow-capped peaks.

Rock’s original sketch was vertical, so to fit the space, Effinger spread out and added some of the elements of the piece. It was very much a collaboration, as Effinger felt like he was just translating or transposing Rock’s creation onto the wall.

Greg Effinger, owner of Creative Bearings, was selected by Steamboat Creates to paint a mural behind Straightline Sports on Eighth Street between Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street. Effinger reworked a vertical sketch from Straightline Sports guide Ben Rock to fit the space. (Photo by Shelby Reardon)

The design was selected by Steamboat Creates as part of its ongoing project to add murals to the exterior businesses downtown. This is mural No. 19 in the collection.

Rock’s design was inspired by his job as a fly-fishing guide and the things he loves about the Yampa Valley.

“It’s an all-inclusive representation of the Steamboat area,” Rock said. “It’s kind of how I see the world out here with this whimsical artistic perspective of things I’m passionate about and enjoy doing — fishing, everything outdoors and the mountain sports. When I think about the perfect image of our area, the fall time leaps out at me as being the ideal beautiful season with the colors and the wilderness.”

Effinger, who owns Creative Bearings, enjoyed that the painting wasn’t entirely his own. It took some pressure off, and he wasn’t constantly questioning its composition and appearance. However, the physical task of putting the work on the side of a building was no less difficult.

Last Friday, he began the task of projecting the outline onto the building. Moving the projector to four different spots, including high up on a ladder, he completed the outline in black paint. He spent the first day painting the top right corner of the painting, and at the rate he was going, he thought it would take less than a week to complete. However, the next day, he started painting the leaves, and that took longer than expected. The details in the water proved even more tedious, but it’s the detail that made Effinger love the design.

“I like the complexity; I really do eat that up,” Effinger said. “It’s something nobody else would try.”

One of the most impressive parts of the piece was the most painstaking for Effinger. He used the painting to camouflage the electric boxes and pipes that run up the side of the building. They blend in beautifully, but it took a lot of work.

If you haven’t heard of Rock, it’s because he isn’t a regular on the Steamboat artist scene. When he first moved to Steamboat about 15 years ago he had a show at Urbane with counter culture pieces, but he’s spent the past 10-plus years focusing on his fly-fishing guide career and his own passions, which include hunting.

“This season coming out of COVID, having more time to focus on hobbies and passions, I started doing some artwork again partially incentivised from Straightline wanting to get more design work for T-shirts,” Rock said.

The design will soon be sold on T-shirts at Straightline Sports.

He’s noticed there is a lot more fine art and graphic design in the hunting and fishing world now, and this mural is motivation to hit the ground running and push himself to make art a larger part of his career.

“I’m seeing a niche for my artwork in the industry I’m already in,” Rock said.

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