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Steamboat Art Museum to present new winter exhibition this Friday

Steamboat Arts Museum's Richard Galusha levels a painting by Len Chmiel earlier this week while setting up for the latest show at the Steamboat Art Museum.
John F. Russell

If You Go:

What: “Len Chmiel: A Retrospective” opening reception

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4

Where: Steamboat Art Museum, 801 Lincoln Ave.

— Life is “organized chaos.”

At least, that’s how renowned artist Len Chmiel sees it.

“I see nature as organized chaos,” he said. “Everything is a jumble until you start to analyze it. When you look at the logic, there is order there if you look for it. I see myself as part of that organized chaos of landscapes.”



If You Go:

What: “Len Chmiel: A Retrospective” opening reception

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4



Where: Steamboat Art Museum, 801 Lincoln Ave.

Through his approach, which lies somewhere between photorealism and abstraction, Chmiel recreates landscapes from around the world, including England, Scotland, Mexico, Guatemala and Uruguay and even as far away as Nepal and Thailand.

The Steamboat Art Museum’s newest exhibition, “Len Chmiel: A Retrospective” — featuring images from those faraway places captured through the course of 50 years — will open to the public Friday with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. in conjunction with the First Friday Artwalk. The exhibition will continue until April 9.

“His work is based in rarity, but there is a certain feeling of abstract or impressionism in what he does,” said Rod Hanna, board president for the Steamboat Art Museum. “The brush work is really incredible.”

While Chmiel’s vigorous brush work may seem chaotically abstract up close, when the viewer steps away, the image takes on the look of a photograph, capturing the light of a scene frozen in time.

A firm believer in creating a good foundation for each piece, Chmiel utilizes a process whereby he creates small drawings and paintings while traveling. Using those images as references and inspiration, he then works on a larger scale at his home studio in Hotchkiss, Colorado.

Following a monthlong trip to Nepal, Chmiel returned with about 30 small paintings to remember the places and scenes he encountered there.

“I satisfy my own composition desires by changing colors or shapes or whatever it may be,” he said. “I feel that freedom to change things to suit my own sensibilities.”

Chmiel said he has worked as an artist since the 1970s and got his start by creating commercial work as an advertising designer and illustrator in Los Angeles. In this exhibit, his work — acquired from collectors across the country — will be on display in one place for the first time in many years.

“It will be interesting to see how I painted early on when I was younger and how I became more confident with it and who I am as a painter,” Chmiel said.

Chmiel’s work has also been included in two books on oil painting, “Contemporary American Oil Painting” and “Freshen Your Painting with New Ideas,” as well as in magazines such as, “Southwest Art Magazine,” “Business Week,” “Western Art Digest” and “American Artist Magazine.”

He has also participated in prestigious shows, including the Prix de West Invitational and the Masters of the American West at the Autry Museum, where he was honored with the Artists’ Choice Award in 2002, 2010 and 2011.

In addition to the opening reception, Chmiel will lead a demonstration at the museum at 10 a.m. Saturday for $20 per person. Later that evening, the “Night at the Museum” fundraising dinner will be held for $75 per person.

Tickets can be purchased at the Steamboat Art Museum or the Wild Horse Gallery.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@ExploreSteamboat.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1


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