Making it as an artist |

Making it as an artist

Autumn Phillips

As Rich Galusha painted, a crowd was gathering. It was early morning, and Galusha had painted in silence before the rest of the island seemed to wake. But the sun had since risen, as had most of the tourists and residents on the tiny Greek island of Mykonos.

Galusha’s wife and travel companions brought coffee, and Galusha barely lifted his head from the canvas long enough to thank them and take a sip. Later, his wife told him that a photographer was taking photos of him as he concentrated on re-creating the way a small red fishing boat looked in the water of the harbor.

“When you’re painting, you block out the rest of the world,” he said.

When the last brush stroke hit the canvas, Galusha woke from his trance and joined his companions for a day of traveling.

The image he created that day on a notebook-paper-sized canvas and then repainted onto an imposing 36-by-48-inch canvas will hang this weekend in the Colorado Governor’s Invitational Art Show in Loveland, beside the work of Colorado representational artists including Mark Daily, Kim English, Quang Ho and George Lundeen.

Galusha received his invitation to the governor’s show by mail in September.

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“It’s quite an honor,” he said. “They invite you based on your reputation.”

Galusha’s name made its way to the capital via other artists who have visited Steamboat Springs’ Wild Horse Gallery, which he owns, and where he displays his work.

“If you want to make it as an artist, you need to make it in your hometown first,” he said.

Galusha was the only public school teacher to be invited to the show this year, and perhaps, he said, the only public school teacher in the 13-year history of the show.

He painted “Red Boat — Mykonos” during his summer vacation, a trip he was able to afford thanks to a patron who takes Galusha around the world as a kind of human camera.

His “Katmandu Market” originally was painted during a trip to Nepal three years ago. Galusha reproduced the piece on a large 30-by-40-inch canvas for the governor’s show at the last moment.

“I planned to send a painting called ‘Fall Cottonwoods,’ but it sold Saturday,” Galusha said. “I always wanted to do this one (‘Katmandu Market’) because of the colors and the strong shapes of the baskets.”

After “Fall Cottonwoods” sold, Galusha rushed to complete its replacement, painting until 3 a.m. every night.

“I worked on it during the day at school so the kids could see it,” he said. He finished “Katmandu Market” at 1 a.m. last Thursday, just in time to ship it to the show. “I had a lot of fun painting this one, and when you enjoy it, other people will enjoy it. That’s the goal.”

Galusha has been the art teacher at Steamboat Springs High School for 18 years. At 50, he plans to retire next year and focus on painting full time.

“I’m closing that chapter in my life and opening another,” he said. “I’ve been practicing for when the day comes.”

What: 13th annual Colorado Governor’s Invitational Art Show and Sale Where: Loveland Museum/Gallery, 503 N. Lincoln Ave., Loveland When: Opening receptions will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. and 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. April 24. Opening day and night requires a $55 ticket. Show open to the public for free from April 25 to May 23. Call: (970) 663-0919 to reserve

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