Yampa Valley and beyond highlighted at All Arts Festival this weekend | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa Valley and beyond highlighted at All Arts Festival this weekend

Nicole Inglis

Dan Benjamin is one of the local artists featured at the 2012 All Arts Festival's Yampa River Art Stroll on Yampa Street. The event goes through Sunday in downtown Steamboat.

— While Dan Benjamin was cooking at Carl's Tavern on Thursday evening, he glimpsed across the street more than 30 professional artists and craft workers from across the country setting up their booths for the Yampa River Art Stroll this weekend.

But waiting at home was his own artwork; a little-known — until now — collection of paintings that earned a place among the seasoned professional artists.

A piece of Benjamin's artwork was chosen as the brochure cover of the 2012 All Arts Festival, the fourth annual, five-day celebration of arts in the Yampa Valley.

The oil painting depicting Mount Werner in rich green and blue hues was used in the event's promotional materials, and the honor came with a booth at the Art Stroll.

The painting is rooted deeply in the essence of Steamboat community: above Mount Werner, Benjamin painted a surreal self-portrait of his face made of tree roots spreading out like a sunburst into the sky.

"I think of them as people," he said about the roots, a common theme in his artwork. "How in this town, we're all interconnected."

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Artists of all types kicked off the Art Stroll at 10 a.m. Friday, and culinary demonstrations and live music continued through the afternoon.

The Art Stroll is on Yampa Street between Fifth and Seventh streets, and it continues from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

On Saturday, culinary demonstrations and wine pairings from La Montana, Truffle Pig, Cottonwood Grill and Mambo Italiano will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. for free. Trevor G. Potter plays at 2 p.m.

Forty-six booths house 37 artists in addition to food and other vendors, and Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association spokesperson Michelle Krasilinec said one could "fill their houses" with the variety of crafts offered, from handmade Poluschka purses to cedar coffee tables, jewelry, frames and international photography.

"It's a good mix of stuff," Krasilinec said. "We have some of the great returning artists, and we have some really good new ones.”

In its fourth year, the All Arts Festival offers a variety of arts and entertainment activities to give the mid-August weekend a boost. According to the Chamber's weekly lodging barometer, about 7,300 visitors are expected this weekend, filling 49 percent of lodging properties.

"The kids are going back to school … and this is kind of a last hurrah as summer's winding down," Krasilinec said.

Away from Yampa Street, the All Arts Festival features productions from various local arts organizations including Emerald City Opera's "The Marriage of Figaro,” Steamboat Symphony Orchestra's Opening Concert and Pirate Theatre's "Powder Haze" parody.

As the Yampa Street fair swung into gear midday Friday, Benjamin said he was thankful for the opportunity to be a part of All Arts.

"This has been a good chance for me to get serious and make some new work," he said. He painted five new pieces in the past five months, even finishing one of his interpretations of the Sleeping Giant the night before the Art Stroll.

The 10-year Steamboat resident said many of the artists around him travel from art show to art show across the country and this is his first fair.

He said he's shown work in former businesses Mocha Molly's, and Chelsea's in Oak Creek.

A graphic design student in college, Benjamin said that while studying technique and the craft of painting is important to him, it's the not the focus of his work.

"Having a message, a point of view, is more important than being a craftsman," he said. "That's what art is. It's not just painting."

Click here to see a full schedule of All Arts Festival events.

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com

All Arts Festival

Click here for the full schedule of All Arts Festival events.

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