Wildlife world displayed at Wild Horse

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— When Shirley and Rich Galusha first opened the Wild Horse Gallery in 1998, they had a list of artists in their minds they wanted to represent.

Painter Lee Stroncek was one of them.

A former Steamboat Springs resident and the son of longtime residents Hank and Elaine Stroncek, he was already an established and well-respected wildlife painter whose work was some of the best in photographic realism.

"We knew Elaine and Hank and knew of their son for years," Shirley Galusha said. "We really wanted him when we opened."

As an ardent trout fisherman, much of his work is dedicated to portraying the world of the angler.

"Many of his paintings are of local scenes," Shirley Galusha said.

Stroncek's work is printed by Wild Wings Publishing, a prestigious printing house specializing in wildlife art, Galusha said.

His work has been featured on the cover of L.L. Bean catalogues, Field and Stream Magazine, Fly Fisherman, Yankee and Wildlife Art News.

Several of his paintings were purchased by L.L. Bean Co.'s private collection in Freeport, Maine.

According to a news release, Stroncek started his painting career as a teen-ager in Minnesota, but when it came time to go to college, he chose instead to study wildlife and fisheries biology at the University of Montana and the University of Alaska.

But his passion seemed to be with drawing and painting the things he was studying more than it was with straight science.

He returned to school for two years of art instruction at Colorado State University.

He has been able to support himself as a full-time artist since 1980.

Stroncek currently resides in Bozeman, Mont., with his wife and son.

The Wild Horse Gallery is located in the lobby of the Sheraton Steamboat Resort. Stroncek's work will be on display through Feb. 26 along with the work of Joel Johnson, Linda Lillegraven and Vince Valdez. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. Call 879-7660.

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