Steamboat artist completes show of paintings with her non-dominant hand |

Steamboat artist completes show of paintings with her non-dominant hand

Nicole Inglis

Local artist Pat Walsh will display her work during a show at Harwigs during the month of December.

— It was just about 24 hours after local gallery owner and painter Pat Walsh had surgery on her wrist that she made the decision.

Despite a plate, a pin and stitches marring her right wrist — her dominant hand — she was going to hang a brand new art show six weeks later. She just had to paint it first.

Entitled "My Left Hand," the show hanging at Harwigs/L'Apogee this month is exemplary of what's possible when obstacles are welcomed as opportunities.

"It turned out to be the greatest thing ever," gushed Walsh on Wednesday as she hung the show. She recently removed the splint from her right hand and is starting physical therapy.

The show will open during First Friday Artwalk from 5 to 8 p.m.

"To me, it wasn't going to be a problem for her," said Susan Schiesser, fellow artist and co-owner with Walsh of RED Contemporary Gallery. "I loved the results. As soon as I saw it, I knew she had always wanted to paint that way."

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Walsh slipped on seemingly the only patch of ice in Routt County in late October, breaking her radius and ulna. She had surgery that evening, and one week later she was completely immersed in a creative problem-solving predicament.

"I was working six days a week trying to make it work with my left hand," she said. "It was a real struggle at first."

It was the struggle itself that proved to be the silver lining to her injury.

She said that in art school it's a common exercise for students to have to paint with their non-dominant hand to help them release their inhibitions.

"The more facile you get, the easier is to make something but the harder it is to be genuine," Walsh said. "This is brutally honest. There's no tricks. I couldn't make anything subtle happen."

Back in August, Walsh had taken a helicopter ride over the Yampa Valley to capture some aerial photos to guide her paintings for this particular show. But with the lack of control she had with her left hand, the subtleties and purposeful movements were replaced with broad, expressionist shapes and dense colors.

"It's what I've sort of always aspired to do," Walsh said.

In addition to eight of the left-handed aerial view paintings, she's also showing two right-handed works from the summer and four monotype prints.

Four historic and restored prints made for the centennial anniversary of Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp also hang on the walls of Harwigs/L'Apogee, all of which were created this summer with the help of Walsh and a group of volunteers.

But it's the eight paintings she created in just a few weeks for the show that are a point of pride. And going forward in her career with a healing right hand, they’re also a source of inspiration.

"It's hard to make it come out as natural and rough and unstylized," she said. "You step back and look and see color. And all of a sudden, I had to let that be enough."

Friday’s Artwalk listings

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

Dana Lee Stoner photographs two of the American West’s great animals: the horse and the bison. Leo Atkinson features his mineral and fossil sculptures, including a new series of smaller sculptures created in collaboration with his daughter, Siara.

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

Christie Ginanni Stepan, of Fancy Ink Press, will be showing a selection of letterpress printed goods and limited edition etchings. In addition to her works on paper, the display will feature the debut of her 2012 holiday letterpress greeting cards.

Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St., 970-879-9008

MiJíKa: a filter that creatively interprets reality. The Steamboat Springs Arts Council presents a group exhibition of Michelle Ideus, Jill Bergman and Karen Schulman.

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

Harwigs presents new works in oil by local painter Pat Walsh. The show is titled “My Left Hand” and represents the vistas of the Yampa Valley, the Yampa River and downtown Steamboat created under a set of unusual circumstances.

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

Legendary nature photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen was named Conservation Photographer of the Year and is one of the most awarded photographers of our time. His work is featured at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and in Nature’s Best Magazine.

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

Off the Beaten Path will feature Wendy Kowynia’s “Paper House,” pictures crafted of knotted paper yarn and journals made of hand-woven paper.

Rumor Design Studio, 345 Lincoln Ave., 970-819-9721

Rumor Design Studio features the colorful, abstract work and sculptures of Jan Marét Willman, contemporary landscapes by Jeanne Dunn, meditative works in metallic and acrylic by Kenneth Ober and a side of delicately carved wooden orbs by Jeffery Simon, of Whitewood Designs. Mini cupcakes will be served.

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

The Steamboat Art Museum is very proud to present the American Watercolor Society's 145th International Exhibition-2012. The museum is one of a small number of select venues to show the exhibit as it makes its way across the country, highlighting the best works and award winners of 2012. On display through Dec. 18.

Steamboat Springs Center for Visual Arts, 837 Lincoln Ave., 970-846-5970

The Center for Visual Arts unveils a full slate of 35 artist members for the 2013 season. Welcome back all your favorite artists and feast your eyes on fresh work by new members, including painter Tedi Jensen, painter Jennifer Lynn Haskett, printmaker Anna Lee Lipman and painter Tracy Riser. Complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres.

Steaming Bean Coffee Co., 635 S. Lincoln Ave., 970-879-3393

Ashley Paul is a graphic designer, photographer and snowboarder best known for her unique style of drawing, bold use of color and interesting nickname, Shitz. Her husband, Tom, of TLP Creations, builds frames for all of the photographs printed. The frames are made of recycled Wyoming snow fence.

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

Urbane presents Colorado artists Kelli Poole, Veronika Khanisenko and Harrison Nealey. Mediums range from oil on wood panels to works on skateboards.

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

Wild Horse Gallery will feature its "Holiday Gift Show," highlighting gift ideas from all of the gallery artists.

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email