Local artist catches attention of Sundance fans amid new Steamboat exhibit
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Local painter Lance Whitner’s stock has just skyrocketed, having been chosen to be one of the artists whose work can be found in the prestigious Sundance Catalog, which was originally created as part of legendary actor and Sundance Institute founder Robert Redford’s vision to support the creative arts.
“I am thrilled to have my paintings in the Sundance Catalog,” said Whitner.
The Sundance Catalog features many handcrafted products from art to clothing, whose sales not only support the artists themselves but help outside causes. Portions of the catalog sales go to nonprofit, art-friendly groups all across the country. Under the catalog, the Sundance retail division is one of several Sundance brand entities including the Sundance Institute, Sundance Channel, the Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Cinemas and the Sundance Resort.
An art agent had spotted Whitner’s work on social media and invited her to participate as one of five new artists for the catalog.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to be a part of a community of artists that I have admired for many years, and I get to expand my audience beyond the borders of our little mountain town to an international clientele,” she said.
Whitner’s modesty belies her talent, which can be seen in many homes and businesses across America through her colorful and dynamic acrylic paintings and prints of nature.
News of Whitner’s Sundance collection comes at a perfect time for local art fans if they want to see exactly why Sundance officials sought out this talented mother of three.
Whitner’s latest exhibition, “Views From My Bike,” is being featured at the Pine Moon Fine Art gallery on Ninth Street in downtown Steamboat Springs until the end of August.
She started painting her latest exhibit after finishing her custom work for Sundance, only to find a pandemic in the way.
“It was a weird time with the COVID … mid-March, it was super emotional,” said Whitner as she walked through her exhibition. “David’s work (her photographer husband) slowed down, all the kids were home from school and businesses were closing. I had trouble painting, and I didn’t want to put all that anxiety and negativity into my work.”
Still, Whitner had committed to an August show and decided to participate in a 100-day challenge. In her case, she would make herself sketch every day for 100 days. She packed up her bicycle with pens, watercolors and a 4-by-5-inch sketchbook. She took off on her first bike ride with her husband amid a rollercoaster of uncertainty.
“We’d been quarantined and I was riding on (Routt County Road) 44 by the Elk River and stopped to sketch. Then a friend ran by and we talked, and then my brother in law came by and we talked to him,” she recalled. “Here I was starting this project during a time of global uncertainty, and through my work, I felt this sense of community and that the world would be OK.”
As the nature of biking with her husband took over, Whitner realized she was sketching faster than usual, using her brain in a different way, so they could quickly get back on the trails.
“It was so hard in the beginning. It pushed me out of my comfort zone. I had to shut off my editing brain,” Whitner said.
As she rode the trails and roads of the Yampa Valley — giving herself less time to sketch and less time to paint at the studio — it helped Whitner get to a more abstract yet more authentic self.
“I’m not interested in going more realistic, rather I’m curious, can I get more abstract,” Whitner said. “For me I’m really interested in this place where you can get up close to a painting — it can look abstract like a bunch of marks that don’t make a lot of sense — but then as you step back you can see it’s a picture in the backcountry or even a trail you can recognize and name.”
“Views From My Bike” was originally planned to coincide with the world-class biking event SBT GRVL this month, but the event was officially canceled. Still, many bikers chose to ride one of the race’s courses on their own, including Whitner who chose to ride a 64-mile route.
Whitner’s exhibit continues at Pine Moon until the end of August. To get a look at her original Sundance collection, visit sundancecatalog.com.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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