'You name it, I've painted it'

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It is a short show to make a big announcement. One of Steamboat's favorite artists is changing galleries. Jean Perry is now represented by Mad Creek Gallery.

Perry's one-week, one-woman show features her latest plein air paintings of everything Steamboat.

What: Jean Perry: One Woman Show When: Through Saturday Where: Mad Creek Gallery, 811 Lincoln Call: 875-1301

"I've painted Fish Creek and all up and down the Elk River. I've painted up and down the Springs Creek trail, the Zirkels and the Flat Tops," Perry said. "You name it, I've painted it."

From a distance, Perry's paintings seem to have incredible detail, but up close, the detail disappears into thick, piled impressionistic brush strokes.

Perry moved to Steamboat in 1980. She was in her 40s and was the mother of four grown children. She had a mind to focus on her career as an artist for the first time.

"I told myself that if I didn't get better in five years, I would quit," Perry said. "Of course, you paint that much, you get better, and by then, you're addicted."

Perry took a workshop in 1982 from an artist at the Home Ranch who painted outdoors.

"At the time, most people didn't know what plein air painting was," Perry said. "It was spring, and it started to rain on us. Then it turned to sleet. We had to tilt our easels to keep painting.

"I remember thinking, 'This is a kick in the pants.'"

Perry abandoned the large abstracts she had been painting and started carrying her paints outdoors -- doing whole paintings on location.

"I go out alone," Perry said. "It's hard work carrying your paints on your back. You climb up a mountain. It's windy and cold, and you paint. But it's glorious to be outside. I have so much fun."

Perry's work first debuted on the walls of Steamboat when she was accepted into a SummerArt show at the Depot Art Center.

People noticed her work and soon she was sharing larger shows with the likes of Curt Zabel at the Depot.

"The Arts Council called me an artist long before I called myself an artist," Perry said. "They took me seriously before I took myself seriously."

As Perry reaches the pinnacle of her career, participating in shows across the country, she still believes in the importance of showing and selling in your hometown.

"I had people tell me that I should leave (for a bigger market)," Perry said. "But I belong to national organizations (such as the Plein Air Painters of America) that allow me to live in this town.

"I think I'll do this forever. Thank God people are buying my work so I can."

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