When Don Tudor welcomed construction clients into his home, they often said the same thing when they saw his large landscape photographs:
"Don, you're in the wrong business."
This weekend, Tudor plans to take those comments to heart as he and partner, Jill Bergman, open Sleeping Giant Gallery.
"I got to the point with construction that I couldn't physically do it anymore. I saw construction as an art, and when I couldn't be a carpenter anymore, I decided to quit instead of just supervise from the office," Tudor said. "While I was still working, I found myself driving around and looking around. I always saw great photographs, but I was too busy to stop. I knew I could wait until my next life to pursue photography or do it now."
Tudor focuses on large local landscapes such as Emerald Mountain, Buffalo Pass and Sleeping Giant. His photos are either wide-angle depictions of recognizable scenes or almost abstract examinations of nature details.
The new gallery will exhibit digital prints of Tudor's photographs, Bergman's funny linoleum block prints and jewelry created by Don's daughter, Jessica Tudor.
The owners also plan to host monthly shows of artists in any style or medium.
But because the market is saturated with Western art, Bergman said, the gallery will consider it only if it is local and unique.
To offset the risk of selling art in an expensive downtown location, the two also have opened a full-service frame shop and wide-format digital print-making shop in the back room.
Bergman has been a framer much of her professional life and met Tudor when she matted some of his photographs.
"It just evolved from there," she said.
Bergman moved from Missoula, Mont., to Steamboat Springs one year ago. She knew the town well from growing up in Laramie, Wyo. Although she has a degree in music and played the oboe for years, she put down her oboe and started doing artwork. All she will say about leaving music is "it's a long story."
Her art has the feel of a brightly colored children's book.
Bergman recently completed two large wood pieces, "Still Life" and "The Bather," both on display at the new gallery.
"I like making art that makes people laugh," she said.
Both pieces are interactive. By pulling a wooden lever, "The Bather" opens her towel.
"I have to put a sign up that says 'It's OK to touch the art,'" Bergman said. "Sometimes I even have to show them by doing it myself. People are indoctrinated by museums that there is a line they can't cross."