A horse is a horse is a horse. Right?
Not when it comes to how different artists chose to depict the creatures.
And this weekend at the annual summer art festival in Beaver Creek, you'll see an animal central to western art expressed in dozens of ways in the booths splayed across the plaza.
For Louisville, Colo. artist Anthony Grant, a horse isn't white or brown or black, or some combination of those traditional colors. It's the outline of a horse, abstractly painted a combination of purple and sky blue, with orange, tangerine and lime green accents. At least in his painting titled "Horse #6," it is.
"(The horse) is a subject that's common in Colorado, for sure," said Grant, whose contemporary western paintings are popular at shows in Colorado as well as Texas, he said.
Meanwhile artist Fritz Anders' horse is a little more representational, at least as far as color goes. In his cleverly titled "Barn Door's Open," a tan horse with a dark brown mane and a white stripe down his nose stares out at the viewer. The barn doors are a slight blue color, reminiscent of blue Levi's. He uses a soldering iron and wood stains on birch, pine or oak plywood to create his often tongue-in-cheek panels. Each piece has a "humorous twist," said Anders, who lives in Castle Rock. "I try to make it more than just a picture of something."
In Douglas Wodark oil painting "Monochromatic," we find perhaps the most traditional rendering of a horse. The artist, who is also from Castle Rock, has been fascinated with cowboys, Indians and the like since he was a young boy.
"And I guess I haven't grown up that much, as they still (fascinate)," he said. "The raw beauty of a western landscape and those that have called it home give me all the challenge I need to tell a story with paint."
Saturday and Sunday an annual Beaver Creek tradition is back for year 25. Around 200 artists and crafters from Colorado and around the country will show (and hopefully sell) their work. The artists are hand-selected from hundreds of applicants based on quality and diversity and required to be on site for the duration of the festival, available to discuss their art and inspiration with passersby.
While Grant and Wodark have participated in the Beaver Creek Art Festival in years past, this year marks the first year that Anders will attend.
"I'm still trying to figure out which shows to do," he said. "(The Beaver Creek festival) is one that everyone says is one of the best shows in the mountains and I'm excited to be a part of it this year."
Anders calls himself an "accidental artist." Using the wood burners his kids had for crafts, he decided to create some pictures using natural wood grain for backgrounds of cloudy skies, running water and rolling landscapes. He found several scraps of wood and was on his way; burning several images around the patterns then coloring them with wood stains so the natural grain showed through. He incorporates characteristics within the wood in the pieces, using knots in the wood as the eyes for an animal and so on. Before he quit his "real" job in 2007 to pursue art full time, he made a living designing hardware and software programs.
"The economy has been rough on the arts but I've been hanging in there and slowly building a client base," he said.
The first year Grant attended in 2010 was a good one - he sold some paintings and met his now girlfriend, he said.
"Now she comes with me every year and helps, and we celebrate our anniversary while we're up there," he said.
At the Beaver Creek Art Festival, "the painting is all over the map," said Grant who is trained as an architect but has been painting for more than 30 years.
"You have guys that do abstract mixed media, expressionist type work, to people who are very traditional, with landscapes and what not," Grant said. "I'm pretty sure I'm the only artist who paints the way I do and that helps. There's less competition. That's always the challenge with art festivals - the number of fine art painters. You have to have your own edge, style if you want people to be interested in your work."
This summer, Grant's paintings of 1940s cruisers bicycles have been very popular, he said. He sells at least one bike painting at each show, which means he's been busy painting during the week so he has enough inventory to bring to all of the art festivals he's signed up to do this summer.
"It's a good problem to have," he said.
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or firstname.lastname@example.org.