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Deeply connected

Connie Steiert

Owner Mario Kontny’s new Gore Creek Gallery may just now be celebrating its grand opening, but Kontny is no newcomer to the world of art.A respected artist in his own right, who continues to show andsell his work in galleries around the country, Kontny has been immersed in art his entire life. His father, Pawel Kontny, is a well-known artist of tremendous talent and versatility out of Denver. It is at his father’s feet that young Mario learned about art not only how to appreciate it, but how to create it.At the top of Bridge Street, Kontny’s new Gore Creek Gallery is hosting a grand opening party from 6-9 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15. The public is invited and hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served as they view the work of some of the finest artists Colorado, and the Gore Creek Gallery, has to offer.After making his living through art all his life, Kontny’s father recently planted the seed that his son would do well operating a gallery, possessing a good eye for art and many existing artist connections.Sometimes you just know things are meant to happen. A Vail homeowner for nine years, Kontny was strolling around town with his wife Margarita last October when he spotted an empty storefront on Hanson Ranch Road he felt would make a wonderful gallery. But he said nothing to Margarita. A week later, Margarita made the exact same observation to her husband.&quotIt confirmed my thought,&quot says Kontny. The landlord was delighted to have a gallery as a tenant, and every artist Kontny contacted immediately agreed to show in his new gallery. He even found an eager manager in his niece, Patti Canseco, who had just graduated from Princeton with a degree in art. &quotEvery piece of the puzzle fell into place,&quot he says.Gore Creek Gallery’s outstanding artwork ranges from realism to abstract, and the tables and bookcases are filled with beautiful and intriguing sculptures and a surprising find of antiquarian books and maps.There are artists from all over the country displayed, from Arkansas to New Mexico to Georgia. But most have a strong Colorado connection, and all are immensely talented.&quotThese artists either live in Colorado or have lived here,&quot Kontny explains.Lorenzo Chavez lived and painted in Denver for many years before moving to Portland, and has been featured in numerous magazines and shows. He is known primarily for his wonderful pastels and plein air landscapes: snowcapped mountains, rushing streams and wistful farmlands.A book has been published about Wheatridge artist Doug Dawson and his wonderful pastels. At the Gore Creek Gallery you can examine how Dawson’s talent stretches from capturing ebullient, cascading streams, to nailing the essence of day to day life in Denver.Denver artist Desmond O’Hagan also prefers pastels, although he occasionally works in oils and alternates short strokes of brilliant colors with more subdued tones to create hauntingly vivid pictures in often mundane places, such as his &quotPub on Hanover Street.&quotOn a more whimsical note, Carole Katchen paints lighthearted paintings with joyful colors and satirical subjects. In &quotLe Whisk,&quot a chef haughtily poses with, of course, his whisk. In another, &quotWe’rehelping the National Economy,&quot two ladies show off their shopping finds. Katchen has penned 11 books on art, including her latest, &quotExpress Yourself! With Pastel.&quotKontny’s father has several of his diverse pieces of artwork at Gore Creek Gallery as well.&quotMy dad can do everything. He is one of the most versatile artists I’ve ever known,&quot says Kontny. Pawel Kontny’s pieces range from realism to abstract.Take his painting, &quotCosmic Travel,&quot a striking abstract. Yet his nearby &quotMediterranean Impression&quot is a serene landscape of a portside village, whose brilliant colors reflect the happy, casual scene.Both paintings use an unusual medium of oil and marble dust to create a painting that exudes another dimension of reality. It is a technique he created nearly 50 years ago, and passed on to his son. Today, the two Kontnys are the only artists to use this memorable technique.&quotIt creates a real 3-D effect,&quot Kontny explains. &quotIt makes you feel like you could walk right into it.&quotKontny, of course, has some of his own work in the gallery. He focuses strictly on landscapes whether they are the sun-bleached and earthy, such as his oil and marble dust painting of Mesa Verde ruins, or lush settings, such as his watercolor of a flower-surrounded cottage in Devon, England.&quotIt’s unique to have a father and son exhibit in the same gallery,&quot Kontny assures.But Kontny and Kontny are not the only father and son act in the gallery. Ramon Kelley and his son Ben are also featured artists at the Gore Creek Gallery.&quotRamon Kelley and my dad are two of the old time patriarchs of the Denver art scene,&quot Kontny says.Ramon Kelley concentrates mostly on creating masterful paintings of figures, with exquisite detailing, rich, emotive colors and poignant settings. His son, Ben Kelley, also favors painting faces in his own wonderful style, but paints the occasional beautiful landscape as well.In addition to the fine paintings, Gore Creek Gallery features the exquisite work of sculptor Mark Hopkins.His bronzes of wildlife are amazingly true to life, yet posses an abstract quality designed to trigger the imagination.Yet as talented as all the artists in Gore Creek Gallery are, they offer their work at reasonable prices another unique aspect about the gallery. With few exceptions, most of the artwork at Gore Creek Gallery can grace a home for between a few hundred dollars to $3,000.&quotI try to make good art available to more people,&quot says Kontny.Gore Creek Gallery is also unique in that it is the only dealer of antiquarian books and maps in the area. There are several, rare first editions, including Hemingways and Faulkners and, the pice de rsistance, an autographed copy of John Steinbeck’s novel, &quotRedPony.&quotKontny is excited about his new venture in the art world. &quotThe one place I wanted to put a gallery was in Vail.&quotThe Gore Creek Gallery is located at 302 Hanson Ranch Road #206 at the top of Bridge Street, past the fountain and the Chocolate Factory. For more information, call (970) 477-4621.


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