Artists ‘branch out’ with First Friday Artwalk tree-themed show in Steamboat |

Artists ‘branch out’ with First Friday Artwalk tree-themed show in Steamboat

Nicole Inglis

— Like many who move to the Yampa Valley, Adam Zabel fell in love with aspen trees. He was captured by the way their bark reflects nearby colors, the way sunlight bends around the trunks in the evening hours and the towering strength of the largest organism in the world.

"A lot of times, when people are hiking, they don't look up," he said. "We're programmed to look forward."

In his most recent oil-on-canvas paintings, of which he completed more than a dozen in the past month, Zabel plays with altering perspectives and impressionistic colors to illustrate the role of trees in local life and landscape.

Zabel is one of two featured artists this month at the Artists' Gallery of Steamboat. Woodworker Matt Graves also is showing his three-dimensional functional works of art in the open space of gallery's entranceway. A reception for the tree-themed show is from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday during First Friday Artwalk.

Blurring the lines between function and art is where Graves finds his balance.

"It's been a slow building of a dream," he said about his foray into artwork from his formal construction background. "It's an escape from discipline."

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In his furniture and shelves, much of the natural bark is left on the trees, and the odd shapes that once made each living tree unique are left alone.

"It's to be true to the nature of the source," he said. "And to leave evidence of the process."

He said he's seen most of the trees he uses when they were in their natural setting — whether they were aspens blown down or burned in the Hinman fire or beetle-killed pine, he knows the tree's story and incorporates it into the piece.

The one decorative piece is the taproot from a lodgepole pine that had blown over. He turned the roots into a bonsai tree, standing upright and decorated with glass scraps from the work of local artist Denise Bohart Brown to create the leaves.

"I'm attracted to their natural shapes, and I try not to erase the forest from the trees," Graves said.

First Friday Artwalk listings for Jan. 6

❱❱ Artists' Gallery of Steamboat

Featuring two artists: Matt Graves' assembled wood sculptures and one-of-a-kind furniture with glass features, and Adam Zabel's landscape oil paintings focusing on exploration, perspective and color. 1009 Lincoln Ave. 970-879-4744.

❱❱ Mangelsen-Images of Nature

Thomas D. Mangelsen long has been recognized as one of the world's premier nature photographers. He recently was named 2011 Conservation Photographer of the Year, adding to his portfolio as one of the most awarded photographers of our time. 730 Lincoln Ave. 970-871-1822.

❱❱ K. Saari Gallery

K. Saari Gallery is proud to announce the opening of "Color Studies," new work by Denver-based painter Jeffrey Keith. The show will feature more than 10 new works by the established artist. Read more about Keith's show at 837 Lincoln Ave. 970-870-0188.

❱❱ Jim Steinberg Photography/Portfolio Collection

Jim Steinberg's photographs will be half off throughout winter. 1016 Oak St. 970-879-3718.

❱❱ Steamboat Art Museum

Steamboat Art Museum features its winter exhibit, "Quang Ho: A Retrospective," with books, catalogs and DVDs available in the gift shop. 807 Lincoln Ave. 970-870-1755.

❱❱ Steamboat Springs Arts Council at the Depot

Come meet local painters of watercolors, oils, acrylics, pastels and mixed media at the Depot. Enjoy wine and food while you ask the artists how they paint from photos or from life. 1001 13th St. 970-879-9008.

❱❱ Steamboat Springs Center for Visual Arts

The Center for Visual Arts welcomes in the new year with an exciting collection of new work by more than 40 local artist members, including new paintings, stunning photography and fun mixed media. Enjoy complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres. 906 Lincoln Ave. 970-846-5970.

❱❱ Wild Horse Gallery

Wild Horse Gallery will feature the realistic wood bird carvings by Don Van Horn and the oil paintings of Stacey Peterson. 802 Lincoln Ave. 970-879-5515.

❱❱ Sleeping Giant Gallery

Local art by nature photographer Don Tudor, Raku stoneware and porcelain by Brown Cannon. 601 Lincoln Ave. 970-879-7143.

❱❱ The Victoria Building

See the creativity and skill of Steamboat's artisans — from concrete countertops to hardware, ironwork, cabinetry, quilting, ceramics, fabrics and murals, fine furniture and lighting, rugs, towel bars, tile and flooring, signage and framing. 941 Lincoln Ave. 970-879-7596.

❱❱ Creekside Cafe & Grill

Nicki Dollard presents her latest paintings, described as whimsical abstraction derived from photographs. She uses a variety of media including acrylics, pen/ink and watercolor to create works depicting our everyday world in an imaginative way. 131 11th St. 970-879-4925.

❱❱ Harwigs/L'Apogee

Featuring artist Jeffrey Graves. Using traditional darkroom techniques, Graves creates extraordinary images accenting the play of light and shadow. 911 Lincoln Ave. 970-879-1919.

❱❱ Colorado Group Realty

Local artist Michelle Ideus will display giclee prints of her best-known acrylic and mixed-media paintings this month. Bold and bright images of the Steamboat Springs landscape, the old Steamboat barn and her signature horse paintings will adorn the lobby. 509 Lincoln Ave. 970-875-2917.

❱❱ Off the Beaten Path Bookstore

Kim Keith exhibits book art where physical books are transformed from wood-pulp literature into works of three-dimensional art, ornaments, jewelry, framed dioramas and more. Stories from books and poems are woven into a tapestry of inspired forms. 68 Ninth St. 970-879-6830

❱❱ Urbane

Urbane presents artwork from Denver artist/tattoo artist Milo Alfring. 703 Lincoln Ave., Suite B101. 970-879-9169.

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 907-871-4204 or email

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