Vail Valley artist uses Mother Earth’s leftovers |

Vail Valley artist uses Mother Earth’s leftovers

Charlie Owen
Vail, Co Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyVail Valley artist Justin Greshko works on his first three dimensional piece, a monarch butterfly, Wednesday at his home in Edwards, Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado ” Vail Valley, Colorado artists Justin Greshko doesn’t just make art ” he builds it. But first he has to gather supplies to create his work and it’s a lot more effort than driving down to the store and buying some paint. During his hunting, fishing and hiking trips around Eagle County, Greshko gathers antler sheds from elk and deer on trails and lugs back dead wood to pile in his garage. If you see him digging around a construction site dumpster it’s OK, he’s just foraging for plywood scraps to mount his work on. One could say his art is composed almost entirely of leftovers.

“Basically all the materials are reclaimed materials,” Greshko said, pointing to “Mountain Trout,” a 4-by-5 foot, wall-mounted sculpture of a large trout made of antler pieces, wood scraps and stone. “I mean this really sweet wood that I pulled out was just laying out there rotting and being destroyed and I refinished it all,” Greshko said.

f Greshko’s garage at his home in Edwards wasn’t full antlers it would look just like any other garage in any other neighborhood. There’s a workbench, table saw and a wall covered with hanging tools. But where most guys would be tinkering under their cars or trying their hand at carpentry, Greshko is cutting antlers into tiny cross-sections to use in his latest piece ” a large monarch butterfly made of reclaimed wood and elk antlers. It sounds a little weird on paper, but the winged sculpture promises more than the eye can see, and he’s only just begun.

“Antlers ” there’s different densities and textures. They’re really great to work with. They take nails good and carve well and cut really nice,” Greshko said. He points to some “brown” antler sheds ” the most prized and desirable sheds as opposed to the dried up and bleached “craft” antlers ” and makes it clear that they are some “awesome antlers.”

Greshko’s work could be called environmentally-friendly. With the exception of some adhesive, hardware, ink and acrylic paint, everything else is recycled. He shoots for anatomical accuracy in his art by basing many of his pieces on images found in nature books. He has been making these pieces for three years now and said he usually starts with a very general idea or outline of what he wants to create, then goes to work to make all the pieces fit ” kind of like a jigsaw puzzle.

“My artwork is a lot of problem solving,” Greshko said. “I’ll have an image and then I got some beautiful materials and I just got to make it all work. I start with the frame and have the dimensions of things and I just go from there. It kind of works itself out.”

One of his pieces, called “Brown Trout,” will be featured on the TV program “The Ultimate Sportsman’s Lodge” on the DIY (Do It Yourself) Network in the fall, but other than that, Greshko admitted he hasn’t done much to promote his art yet. Greshko did say he should have a Web site up and running soon and his friend Dann Coffey has taken some high-quality photographs of his work at his studio in Riverwalk, Dann Coffey Photographics. Oddly enough, Coffey said that despite their longtime friendship, he was completely unaware of Greshko’s artistic interests.

“I had no idea that he was kind of a closet artist,” Coffey said. “His stuff has a lot of depth to it … I find it to be real organic and very earthy.”

For more information on Justin Greshko’s art, contact him at 970-331-1843 or visit

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