First Friday Artwalk today at downtown Steamboat venues |

First Friday Artwalk today at downtown Steamboat venues

Deb Babcock, front, and Gail Holthausen set up the Pot'anical Exuberance pottery show at the Depot Art Center earlier this week. The Steamboat Clay Artisans are presenting the show, which features the work of 16 clay artists. The show will run through July 27.
John F. Russell

— One of the best date nights in Steamboat is each month's First Friday Artwalk, and today's event promises to be one of the most diverse of the year. An overriding theme is the flora of the Yampa Valley and beyond.

It begins with the Pot'anical Exuberance exhibit presented by the Steamboat Clay Artisans at the Depot Art Center across the river on 13th Street. All 16 participating artists, including some from Craig, have put their own interpretation on a botanical theme. And they've done it in their own style, from Raku to sculptural, hence the Pot'anical play on words.

Even people who attend tonight might want to return Saturday night from 8:30 to 10 p.m., when several artisans will demonstrate the fiery art of Raku in the dark of the parking lot, accompanied by a fire spinning performance.

Who knew that pottery was performance art?

The styles in evidence tonight include sculptural, hand-built, wheel-thrown and horsehair ceramics and stoneware, organizer Deb Babcock said. The artists have executed the botanical theme with everything from birdhouses to handsome salad bowls decorated with painted insects in the glaze.

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Susan Erikson, of Craig, has created birdhouses she calls "faerie havens." They are given imaginative texture by pressing common materials like burlap sacks into the wet clay.

Kathy Thayer came up with an imaginative raspberry soda bottle design, and Jody Elston, of Stagecoach, has produced a school of berry bowls decorated with three-dimensional koi fish perched on the rim of the bowls.

Babcock said the artists agreed to produce bodies of work for the show reflecting modest prices — the pieces can be had for prices from $12 to $275. For example, Elston's lily pad spoon bowls (keep them by the stove) are $30.

Babcock said that instead of following the usual trend of hanging onto all pending sales pottery until the end of the month when the show is over, the artists have agreed to allow patrons to take their purchase with them and constantly replenish their work.

Five blocks away from the Depot Art Center at photographer Jim Steinberg's Portfolio Collection, 1016 Oak St., another form of botanical expression is on display, with his close-ups — and in many cases extreme close-ups — of flower blossoms.

Steinberg, who teaches wildflower photography workshops all across the country, has named his exhibit "The Secret Lives of Flowers." By moving in tight on pistils, stamens and petals, he hopes to show his viewers a view of flowers they've seldom glimpsed.

"For this show I let my imagination go," Steinberg said. "I want to open up people's eyes to a new way to look at these flowers."

Like the potters, the photographer is showing some sensitivity to his patrons' pocketbooks.

People familiar with Steinberg's previous work are accustomed to large-scale landscapes shot with large-format cameras. For this show, he's presenting 8-by-10-inch images in epoxy and priced from $75 to $85.

He has started with 54 images of wildflowers and specimens in botanical gardens but intends to keep expanding and editing this body of work for ongoing shows.

Below is a listing of today's First Friday Artwalk exhibits:

First Friday Artwalk

❱❱ The Artists' Gallery Of Steamboat presents the works of three gallery artists. Phil Wright paints oil landscapes depicting Colorado and other Western scenes. Sandy Graves features stylized bronzes depicting wildlife themes. Jim Gmeiner makes nature and landscape photographs as well as mixed media. Call 879-4744. 1009 Lincoln Ave.

❱❱ Images of Nature features nature and wildlife photos by Thomas D. Mangelsen. Call 871-1822. 730 Lincoln Ave.

❱❱ Jim Steinberg Photography/The Portfolio Collection features Steinberg's new exhibit "The Secret Life of Flowers." There will be a garden party to reveal Steinberg's floral photography and a contest for best garden party hat. The winner will receive a Steinberg print. Call 879-3718. 1016 Oak St.

❱❱ Sleeping Giant Gallery shows the local art of Cully Kistler and nature and wildlife photographs by Don Tudor. Also featured is photography and Raku stoneware by Brown Cannon. Call 879-7143. 601 Lincoln Ave.

❱❱ Steamboat Art Museum features quilts by nationally recognized artist David Taylor, whose work is included in the Denver Art Museum's permanent collection. Call 870-1755. 807 Lincoln Ave.

❱❱ The Steamboat Springs Arts Council at the Depot Art Center presents the Steamboat Clay Artisans and their Pot'anical Exuberance exhibit. Fifteen artists are showing works that depict a garden/botanical theme, including birdhouses, vases, sculptures, garden party items and more. The opening reception is from 5 to 8 p.m. and includes wine and refreshments. Call 879-9008. 1001 13th St.

❱❱ The Center for Visual Arts features new summer work by its 80 local artist members. Patsy Stewart, featured artist member, opens her show featuring mosaic hangings and whimsical expressions of the natural world. Call 846-5970. 906 Lincoln Ave.

❱❱ Tread of Pioneers Museum features a rich collection of historic Routt County photographs. Call 879-2214. 800 Oak St.

❱❱ Wild Horse Gallery features the oil paintings of Jean Perry and bronze sculptures by Curtis Zabel. Call 879-5515. 802 Lincoln Ave.

❱❱ Chocolate Soup shows Professor Charles Hardy's etched and engraved prints creating using Renaissance-era tools. Call 870-0225. 737 Lincoln Ave.

❱❱ Colorado Group Realty features popular prints and a few new works by Susan Schiesser, who will attend today's Artwalk reception. Call 870-8800. 509 Lincoln Ave.

❱❱ Comb Goddess features new work by plein air painter Leslie Lovejoy. Call 871-0606. 1104 Lincoln Ave.

❱❱ Creekside Cafe features the work of printmaker Maggie Smith, who draws images of nature onto plates that are then etched and inked, and applied to paper to create artwork of animals, flowers and landscapes. Call 879-4925. 131 11th St.

❱❱ East West Frame Shop features the show "There Was Once a Romance" by Michelle Ideus, who strives to bring horses, flowers and Steamboat scenes to life. Cheri Duty, meanwhile, will show funky gemstone and wire-wrapped jewelry. Call 879-5225. In the alley at Eighth and Oak streets.

❱❱ Epicurean Cafe features its tribute to "Le Tour Eiffel" with photographs and mixed media oil paintings of Chanticleer by chef/owner/artist Rebecca Pauvert. Call 875-0997. 825 Oak St.

❱❱ Harwig's/L'Apogee presents photographs by Kim Keith, whose new collage art includes local women turning into aspen trees, submerged in water and dancing with butterflies. Call 879-1919. 911 Lincoln Ave.

❱❱ High Mountain Sotheby's International Realty showcases local landscape artist Steve Bolander, who makes his summer debut with a collection of representational oil paintings inspired by the Rocky Mountain region. Call 879-8101. 708 Lincoln Ave.

❱❱ Liberman Photography features landscape photographs by David Liberman as well as custom water fountains incorporating crystals, minerals, stones and bamboo by Robert Yazbeck. Call 303-877-7707 or 846-7685. 24 Fifth St.

❱❱ The Olympian Sales Office shows new work by Laura Wait, presented by K. Saari Gallery. Also featured is "Burlesque in the 21st Century," a documentary exploration by photographer Jessica Maynard of the women who reveal their sensuality through the art form of dance, flirtation and creativity. Call 879-8100. Fifth and Yampa streets.

❱❱ Rustique Home and Garden Collection shows bronze sculptures of Don Beeler, whose art depicts Western lifestyles, horses and cowboys. Call 870-2980. 624 Lincoln Ave.

❱❱ Urbane presents the art of James Milo Alfring. Call 879-9169. 703 Lincoln Ave., Suite B101.

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