Steamboat artists pull together to raise money for Japan relief |

Steamboat artists pull together to raise money for Japan relief

Local painter spearheads fundraising effort for First Friday Artwalk

Nicole Inglis

Local artist Phil Wright's idea to use his art to help support the Japanese Red Cross has gained momentum with other members of the Artists' Gallery of Steamboat who have contributed pieces to a drawing and sale.
John F. Russell

— About this time of year, local painter Phil Wright can picture Japanese businessmen gathering their lunches to settle in local parks under the blossoming cherry trees.

The soft pink blossoms blanket the country this time of year, an event overshadowed this time around by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake off of the east coast of Japan on March 11, which caused a tsunami that killed thousands and resulted in the threat of nuclear meltdowns at Japanese plants.

Wright worked for Ford Motor Co. in Japan from 1990 to 1995, and a photo he took of the cherry blossoms near Tokyo's Imperial Palace always has nagged at the back of his mind as the inspiration for a painting.

When he and his wife, Katsura, whom he met in Japan, saw the devastation on the news, he knew it was time.

"It's pretty emotional to watch," Wright said. "Maybe because so much of it is on television. It affects people."

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The landscape painter switched gears from his usual rural Colorado scenes — and switched his color palette to include alizarin instead of red — to capture the blossoms.

The resulting painting is on display at the Artists' Gallery of Steamboat, and Wright decided to hold a drawing for the painting to raise money for the Japanese Red Cross.

His idea snowballed as more and more artists got involved. About 10 pieces from a variety of local artists will be given away in a drawing or sold outright for the fundraiser.

The pieces are featured in the front room as well as on a back wall in the gallery, where people will be able to peruse the selections during tonight's First Friday Artwalk.

Tickets for the drawing are available for a $10 donation, and the drawing ends April 11.

"Maybe it'll raise more money, but more importantly, it allows just about anyone to participate," he said about mixing in the giveaways along with the sale.

Items include paintings, sculptures, ceramics, a silk scarf and a book of photography.

Although Katsura's family was safe from the disaster, Wright said the events are continually affecting everyone in his former home.

Still, there is a sort of resolve Wright recognizes in the Japanese people.

"I think the Japanese have a way of pulling together," Wright said.

First Friday Artwalk

❱❱ Artists' Gallery of Steamboat, 1009 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-4744

Several artists from the gallery have donated pieces for sale or for a drawing to benefit the Japanese Red Cross. Featuring an oil painting of the Japanese cherry blossoms by Phil Wright. Tickets for the drawing are available for $10.

❱❱ Images of Nature, 730 Lincoln Ave., 970-871-1822

The fine nature photography of Thomas Mangelsen, a Wyoming-based nature photographer.

❱❱ Jim Steinberg Photography/Portfolio Collection, 1016 Oak St., 970-879-3718

Steinberg will display photographs of Colorado in early spring and summer. 

❱❱ K. Saari Gallery, 837 Lincoln Ave., 970-870-0188

K. Saari Gallery will have a closing reception for local painter Monroe Hodder's Paint Up! and photographer Frederick Hodder's February Light. The show will run through April 15.

❱❱ Sleeping Giant Gallery, 601 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-7143

Local art by nature photographer Don Tudor, Raku stoneware and porcelain by Brown Cannon and turned wooden bowls from beetle-killed pine by Roger Ross.

❱❱ Steamboat Art Museum, 807 Lincoln Ave., 970-870-1755

Western paintings by Jim Norton, cowboy artist. The museum gift shop will offer 10 percent off any item in the shop. Wine and refreshments will be served.

❱❱ Steamboat Springs Center for Visual Arts, 906 Lincoln Ave., 970-846-5970

Steamboat Springs High School AP Art Show: Visit with local art students and support the Artist Mentoring Program. Refreshments will be served.

❱❱ Wild Horse Gallery, 802 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-5515

Wild Horse Gallery will feature new paintings by Richard Galusha. Visit for more information.

❱❱ Colorado Group Realty, 509 Lincoln Ave., 970-875-2917

Local oil painter Adam Zabel will display his new works of various local themes through the different seasonal views of Northern Colorado. Stop by and visit with the artist. 

❱❱ Creekside Cafe, 131 11th St., 970-879-4925

The photography of Danny Rhodehamel takes viewers on a journey with the amazing animals that thrive in Tanzania and Rwanda. Complimentary wine and appetizers will be served.

❱❱ Harwigs/L'Apogee, 911 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-1919.

Celebrate the artists of the past year at Harwigs, including Greg Block, Kim Keith, Susan Schiesser, Patricia Bolton, Jim Steinberg and Greg Effinger — to name a few. Appetizers and wine will be served.

❱❱ Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, 68 Ninth St., 970-879-6830

Explore the wildlife of Madagascar in acrylic, pen and ink and watercolor works by local resident Janelle Schuler. Treats and half-price wine will be served.

❱❱ Urbane, 703 Lincoln Ave., Suite B101, 970-879-9169

Urbane presents its third annual Skate Deck Art Show. Come for a night of art presented only on skateboards.

— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email

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