Local paints mural in downtown Steamboat Springs
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — For someone who has never spray painted, Gregory Block is pretty good at it.
His lack of skills with the medium originally deterred him from even applying a design for the mural to Steamboat Creates. Eventually, he submitted a painting and he ended up getting the gig, as decided by a jury of locals. Now, he’s learning to spray paint while putting his design on the south side of Aspen Botanicals along 8th street in downtown Steamboat Springs.
“It had been six months of quarantining, more or less, at home in my studio,” said Block. “As comfortable as I am with that, it was time for something new. I was like, ‘Heck this is my hometown, I want to take a risk and try to grow with it.’”
The mural project was put together by Steamboat Creates and the business owner, Russel Atha.
“We wanted something to celebrate all of the artforms that happen here in Steamboat,” said Kim Keith, executive director of Steamboat Creates.
The original painting is called “Elevate.” It features almost a bouquet of visual and performing artforms. A violin is front and center, surrounded by a painter’s palette, sheet music and sketches of dancers and all appear to be floating above the clouds.
“I wanted to incorporate all of those in a way that felt light, and vibrant and rich and also spoke to the high elevation here in Steamboat.”
Keith hopes the piece is a conversation starter. Passerbys may not know that Steamboat is home to an orchestra or the Perry Mansfield Performing Arts School. Seeing dancers and a violin in the mural may prompt them to look into those places.
Steamboat Creates is selling 50 prints of the original painting at the Depot Arts Center on Friday.
Block, a Yampa Valley native, started with a base coat that outlined where everything will be. The first layer gave him a chance to figure out how each nozzle and stroke looked. It also gave him time to learn that the wind changes where the paint hits the wall.
“There’s a huge learning curve,” Block said. “You look at this, and it’s just me trying to muddle through it.”
He’s also learning to use a lift, and is managing how to paint while only having access to a small portion of the painting while on the lift. Block has never painted a mural or worked on such a large scale before.
The second layer will have a bit more detail and and lastly, he’ll go through with a paint brush for the smallest details.
Despite the challenges, Block liked how the painting looked after most of the first layer was complete.
“I’m actually pretty dang impressed with myself,” Block said. “I’m hoping it continues to go in the way a normal painting would go, that I can refine these layers. … I’m really having fun and using lots of new equipment.”
Steamboat Creates collaborates with building owners pretty frequently to add murals to empty walls in Steamboat Springs. Murals create neighborhoods that people want to visit and take care of, according to Keith.
“Murals encourage people to slow down and admire their surroundings,” Keith said.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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