Steamboat Art Museum hosting week of plein air painting events |

Steamboat Art Museum hosting week of plein air painting events

Mike Lawrence

Plein air artist Linda Hamlet uses paint to record the scene on the shores of Fish Creek Monday afternoon. Hamlet, a Steamboat Springs resident, will be taking part in The Plein Air Event, which is taking place this week across the county and is hosted by Steamboat Art Museum.

Steamboat Art Museum president and curator Shirley Stocks said painting outdoors is about much more than enjoying beautiful weather and scenery in the Yampa Valley.

"It's painting from life. It's about the light, the colors and the values," she said Monday, referring to "values" as the play of light and darkness in a painting's setting. "You can't get correct light, colors and values from a photograph."

About 35 artists — many from locations across the country — are in Steamboat Springs this week to try their hand at expressing those values in The Plein Air Event, a week of outdoor, or plein air, painting at locations across Routt County. The week culminates in Friday's public reception, exhibit and sale of plein air artwork from 5 to 8 p.m. at the downtown museum, followed by Saturday's "quick draw" painting event, barbecue and auction along the Yampa River.

Friday's exhibit will be the first displayed in Steamboat Art Museum's new wing, in the part of the historic Rehder Building formerly occupied by Antares Restaurant.

On Monday morning, Steam­boat Art Museum Education and Library Director Richard Galusha was working hard to get the new wing ready for public display. The space includes a room that will serve as the museum's art library. Stocks said the museum is accepting donations of art books and selling $200 bookcase sponsorships, which include a plaque with the sponsor's name on a library bookcase.

In March, Steamboat Springs City Council approved a long-term, $1-a-year lease of the Rehder Building to the Steamboat Art Museum. The lease agreement states the museum is liable for interior maintenance of the building, while the city is liable for all major exterior maintenance.

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The city spent $311,000 on repairs to the building in 2008-09. The city also has received a $150,000 grant from a state historic society and $75,000 from the Rehder estate for additional improvements.

Stocks said the interior expenses, such as utility bills, are proving costly. Proceeds from Saturday's auction of plein air work will benefit the museum. Call 970-870-1755 to learn about other ways to help.

Artists will paint from 10 a.m. to noon in Saturday's quick-draw event. The silent auction and barbecue is from noon to 2 p.m. in the backyard of the office building next to Sunpie's Bistro on Yampa Street. Admission is $10.

"It's a fun event to see what they do in two hours," museum volunteer Dee Hawley said about the artists' timed efforts. "You never know how it's going to come out."

But the results usually are very good, she added.

"It's really beautiful, finished work," she said.

Stocks said the week of plein air painting allows artists to gather socially and share ideas about capturing natural scenes in the outdoors.

"Working from life is the best way to work," she said.

The Plein Air Event

Steamboat Art Museum is hosting outdoor, or plein air, painting events all week.

Friday’s public reception, exhibit of plein air work and sale is from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Steamboat Art Museum, 807 Lincoln Ave. Saturday’s quick-draw event is from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by a barbecue and silent auction of quick-draw work from noon to 2 p.m. along the Yampa River, at the office building next to Sunpie’s Bistro on Yampa Street. Saturday’s auction and lunch costs $10.

Call the museum at 970-870-1755, or visit to learn more.