Steamboat Springs It may be cowboy sacrilege. At first the paintings look like traditional Western art lone horse posed in front of a ranch house.
One step closer to painter Michelle Ideus' work cocks the head. The horse is standing at the corner of Hollywood and Vine, next to a bowl of fruit, a cup and a saucer as part of a surreal still life.
Ideus graduated from Colorado State University in Fort Collins with a degree in painting, but it wasn't until now, at 34, that she decided to make the move toward a full-time art career. Her colorful, sane, but strange mixed-media work is the series she hopes will launch her in Steamboat.
Her work is on display and for sale in Gondola Square at the Steamboat Ski Area from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. Her paintings of landscapes from Maui to Oregon can be purchased for anywhere from $80 to $2,500.
Steamboat residents may have seen her work at the Artisan's Market on Lincoln Avenue or met her during the winter at her Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. job in the food and beverage department.
Ideus' work is on display with that of a half-dozen other local artists as part of Steamboat Springs' Fourth of July celebration.
Across the aisle from Ideus, Joe Gatto set up a boot of traditional Venezuelan hammocks, maracas, incense and jewelry.
This time three weeks ago, he was in the Amazon. Two and a half weeks ago he returned to the States and is traveling around the country visiting old friends and selling goods from his time in South America.
"I want to educate people that Venezuela is not just an oil country with beauty queens and crazy politicians," Gatto said. In his booth he has a map of Venezuela and copies of articles about native artisans.
Gatto spent two and a half years in Caracas, capital of Venezuela, working as a journalist for the local English language newspaper. He traveled all over the country interviewing artists as a cultural writer.
He picked up the incense he sells while doing a story in a small southern Indian town whose locals are trying to increase awareness about the plight of the Amazon.
Gatto bought the hammocks from a weaver in the Andean foothills, in a village known for its textiles.
As a journalist, he learned something new every day. "The weather was perfect and the people were cool," he said. "But now I'm doing things I missed about America while I was gone, like going to festivals. You can't see James Brown in Venezuela."