Steamboat tattoo artist Milo Alfring finds freedom in his work
January 31, 2013
Steamboat Springs — During the day, skin is his canvas. But when Milo Alfring leaves his job at the 9th Street Tattoo Studio, he turns his creative flow to canvas, wood and colorful paints.
"It really never ends, in a way," he said.
As the 27-year-old settled into one of the plush couches in the 9th Street Tattoo Studio, his wall-sized oil and acrylic paintings illuminated the room with bright, expressionist colors while tattoo sketches were spread across a counter upstairs.
No matter the medium — ink on skin or paintbrush on canvas — this is his job whether or not he's at work.
"It really doesn't feel like work ever," he said about his career as a tattoo artist. "You get to be free with it. It has a hard learning curve, but there's really no limit to it."
Alfring will be showing his artwork — along with collaborative pieces he created with Garrett Brown and the work of Jonathan McHugh — at Urbane during February. The show opens during First Friday Artwalk with a reception from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday.
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Always enamored with drawing and watercolors, Alfring started apprenticing at a tattoo shop in Steamboat Springs six years ago with no intention of working as a tattoo artist.
But he grew to love the medium of skin and the dynamic nature of the possibilities in tattoo art.
Still, he couldn't have one medium without the other.
"I came to the realization that tattooing and painting go hand in hand," Alfring said. "That's what made me want to go back and go to art school."
After two years at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, Alfring recently returned to Steamboat and opened the 9th Street Tattoo Studio with artist Sean Blake.
Initially, it was his background in painting that influenced his tattoo art. Now, the reverse is beginning to happen, with gliding script and text peeking into his abstract landscapes inspired by his love of the outdoors and traveling the world.
And he's branching out beyond painting, too. Still a work in progress are a series of 3-D wood reliefs of world maps he's been working on with Denver artist Garrett Brown. The work involves layering, staining and painting sheets of plywood cut into shapes of continents and oceans.
The process isn't refined, but he's found another kind of freedom in the exploration of a new concept.
"We've learned so much, and we're in an experimental phase," he said.
First Friday Artwalk listings
■ Artists’ Gallery of Steamboat, 1009 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-4744
Susan Gill Jackson’s oil paintings of winter scenes focusing on the colors reflected in the snow. Lance Whitner’s acrylic paintings expressing the emotional relationships between landscape elements, color, shape and texture.
■ Colorado Group Realty, 509 Lincoln Ave., 970-875-2917
Carole McDermott’s “Landscapes and Landscapes of the Mind,” plein air Colorado scenes and contemporary abstract oil paintings. Learn more at http://www.carolemcdermott.com.
■ Creekside Cafe & Grill, 131 11th St., 970-879-4925
Ruth Dombrowski’s “Simply the Color.” Inspired by nature, these 3-D oil paintings preserve small buds from a tree, tiny pine cones, colorful fall leaves, tree bark and other natural surroundings.
■ Harwigs/L’Apogee, 911 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-1919
Sonja Hinrichsen’s “Snow Drawings,” an environmental project and photographs. Last winter, Hinrichsen and community volunteers created snow drawings on Rabbit Ears Pass. Aerial photographs were taken of the project, which is organized by the Steamboat Springs Arts Council and Bud Werner Memorial Library with help from RED Contemporary. http://www.steamboatspringsarts.com.
■ Mangelsen-Images of Nature, 730 Lincoln Ave., 970-871-1822
Legendary nature photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen has traveled throughout the natural world for nearly 40 years observing and photographing the Earth’s last great wild places. http://www.mangelsen.com.
■ Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, 68 Ninth St., 970-879-6830
Meghan Hine’s painting technique that resembles traditional stained glass. Hand-painted windows and repurposed items serve as a base to create stunning displays of color.
■ Sleeping Giant Gallery, 601 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-7143
Local art by nature photographer Don Tudor and weathered frames and tables by Peruvian saddlemakers.
■ Steamboat Art Museum, 807 Lincoln Ave., 970-870-1755
A retrospective of the artwork of two distinguished local artists, painter Jean Perry and sculptor Curtis Zabel. The artist's works will be on display at the Helen Rehder Gallery in the museum. The exhibit will be open through April 13. http://www.steamboatartmuseum.org.
■ Steamboat Springs Center for Visual Arts, 837 Lincoln Ave., 970-846-5970
Representing 35 artists from representational landscapes to contemporary images in all mediums: paintings, sculpture, photography, jewelry and more. Paintings by Michelle Ideus and George Fargo’s illustrative photos of skiing in Steamboat. http://www.steamboatartcenter.com.
■ Steaming Bean Coffee Co., 635 S. Lincoln Ave., 970-879-3393
Featuring new work by local artist KAITO.
■ Urbane, 703 Lincoln Ave., Suite B101, 970-879-9169
Works of Milo Alfring, Jonathan McHugh and friends. View a collection of works ranging from pen and ink to oils, acrylics, wood and watercolor. 5 to 9 p.m.
■ Wild Horse Gallery, 802 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-5515
New oil paintings by Chula Beauregard with a 100th anniversary Winter Carnival theme. http://www.wildhorsegallery.com.
■ White Pepper, 601 Lincoln Ave., 970-871-7799
Tori Thompson’s intrinsic delight of bringing new life to something discarded led to a newly discovered knack for repurposing. She usually can be found on her porch in Denver refinishing and building furniture. Paintings often include some element of reuse: old windows, cardboard, fabric scraps and acrylic paints.
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com
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