Steamboat art gallery organizes new kind of happy hour |

Steamboat art gallery organizes new kind of happy hour

Johanna Hall, director of the Closer to the Sun, Gallery of Fine Art, stands inside the new business at 635 Lincoln Ave. The art gallery, which is owned by Jonathan Barrett, and the BARley will host a Steamboat Creatives happy hour Thursday evening.
John F. Russell

— This week, a new kind of happy hour will be introduced to Steamboat Springs.

Deemed the Steamboat Creatives happy hour, the event is meant to get people together in one place to talk and offer ideas.

“The concept of putting that word ‘creative’ in there is not meant to pigeonhole it to just architects, artists, designers, writers, etc.,” said Jonathan Barrett, artist in residence and co-owner of the Closer to the Sun, Gallery of Fine Art. “More than anything, it’s meant to invite anyone who falls into that category of creative.”

The Steamboat Creatives Happy Hour will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at The BARley. Food and drink specials will be available for the occasion.

“We love creativity, and it’s an amazing opportunity to have a variety of creative individuals together at the BARley,” said Megan Gray-Stromberg, co-owner of the BARley. “Because crafting things is never easy in any capacity.”

A year ago, Barrett and Johannah Hall opened the Closer to the Sun, Gallery of Fine Art above the BARley in Old Town Square. Both have been residents of Steamboat for about four years in addition to being heavily involved with the arts community.

“There was nothing that exists really that works with creative professionals,” Barrett said.

“Getting like-minded people together and sharing ideas is important and having a space to do that helps create motion and positive change,” Hall added.

While the gallery had a soft opening last year, Barrett and Hall’s intent was to try something new by creating a cultural center by bridging age and style gaps to see what would come of it.

“I was really trying to cross cultural boundaries,” Barrett said. “But I was also trying to stay true to the traditionalism of a lot of the galleries you see in town but wanted to push that contemporary side, as well.”

Starting out with five artists, that number now has grown to 12. Barrett said when he finds artists to showcase, he represents them rather than focusing on rotating shows.

Not necessarily a co-op but run in a similar way, each of the artists under contract at the gallery have a say in how his or her work is displayed. Barrett’s and Hall’s job is to pass on the artist’s message by displaying it and representing it appropriately.

Steamboat can be referred to as a central creative hub, attracting artists, writers, photographers, designers, etc. from across the world, one of the reasons Barrett said Steamboat was an ideal location for this particular gallery and for creating a network of creative individuals.

“It’s important to have a contemporary gallery in town,” Hall said. “We have a handful of contemporary Western-themed galleries, which I think are awesome, but I know from my work in particular, it is less Western and more contemporary so it didn’t really have a place in town. I feel like this gave it a space.”

With Barrett’s experience working in a number of notable galleries and Hall’s involvement with the Steamboat Springs Arts Council on the education committee, they hope to see the arts in Steamboat flourish. This happy hour, they said, is a step in the right direction.

“The biggest thing, especially through my work with the Arts Council, is making this push for Steamboat to up the ante on the arts scene,” Hall said. “What we need is a little bit more support and a couple more great things to happen, we are starting to go in the right direction.”

Barrett said he will do whatever it takes to help get things moving and hopes the stage will be set to get everyone there. Next, he said, is to wait and see what comes from this event.

“It does take effort, ideas and speaking up about what these creative people want to see happen,” Barrett said. “We’ve got a lot of proactive people in this town of all ages that are doing their own thing but are not really tied into something they can fully manifest on their own. This event helps create an environment for that.”

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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