Steamboat Springs resident Paul Hobson builds his Estrus surfboards in a shop located behind his downtown Steam­boat home. Hobson uses balsa and redwood to create the custom boards.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs resident Paul Hobson builds his Estrus surfboards in a shop located behind his downtown Steam­boat home. Hobson uses balsa and redwood to create the custom boards.

Steamboat surfboard maker puts boards on display during Artwalk

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— Hundreds of miles from an ocean and in the midst of Steamboat Springs winters, Paul Hobson spends his evenings grinding and sanding away at his line of custom-built wooden surfboards, imagining the waves underneath them when they finally see salt water.

He knows there’s something a little bit strange about that.

“First of all, I’m a terrible surfer,” Hobson said Tuesday, sitting in his backyard near the shop where his five custom surfboards were born. “I surf maybe six days a year. But as far as personal surfing goes, I see this long trajectory; I like the vibe of it, everything about it works for me.

“Catching that wave … getting tapped into that energy, that’s what got me started.”

His five boards, ranging in length from about 7 feet to nearly 11 feet, will be on display at Urbane this month. An opening reception for the show, which includes the woodcarvings of local artist Brian Leach, is from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday during First Friday Artwalk.

Hobson first laid his feet on a modern foam board about 10 years ago and was instantly connected to the dynamic nature of surfing. As a career carpenter, he looked into the origin of the surfboard in an effort to understand its shape and construction.

He was then compelled to make his own as an artistic supplement to the sharp angles of the finish and furniture work of his day job.

“It’s all fluid curves,” he said about the boards. “It’s more of a sculptural thing.”

He discovered that early surfboards were made from redwood, which Hobson uses sparingly in his blond balsa wood boards. The signature dark red ribs in his boards offer some structural reinforcement, but they are designed as an homage to surfing’s history.

After he made his first board in 2005, he took it to Hahn’s Peak Lake to paddle around and see how it floated and reacted to the small, choppy waves.

“The wood imparts a characteristic that is hard to describe other than it gives you the feel of the wood,” he said. ”It almost amplifies everything — certainly the sound.”

He’s surfed on each of his five boards — which are finished with fiberglass and epoxy — on his annual trips to California with his wife, Alison, and three daughters, Chloe, Emily and Olivia.

All of the Hobson women have grown used to seeing the boards hung around the house and mounted above their heads.

Olivia said it makes her want to go surfing.

“Maybe you could make me a wooden boogie board?” she asked Tuesday, looking up at her dad.

Hobson is instead turning to skateboards and has recently finished his first version, which he tested at the local skate park.

While Steamboat may be a winter-first town filled with skiers and snowboarders, Hobson thinks that mountain people feel the same kindred attraction to other board sports as he does.

“Everyone’s part of the same tribe,” he said.

Artwalk listings

❱❱ Artists’ Gallery of Steamboat, 1009 Lincoln Ave., 970- 879-4744

Artists’ Gallery of Steamboat will present “Earth, Sky, Fire” the works of three gallery artists: Dancy Gould St. John celebrates the union of earth and sky; Gregory Effinger displays Western art in watercolors and oils; David A. Marshall has sculptures and designs with a European influence.

❱❱ Colorado Group Realty, 509 Lincoln Ave., 970-875-2917

Photographer/artist Gerald Hardage is an award-winning national and international photographer and photographic judge. His passion for life, art and photography is expressed through romance of the West, landscapes, figure study and environmental portraiture. 

❱❱ Creekside Cafe, 131 11th St., 970-879-4925

Featured artist is Denise Bohart Brown, who says, “There are few things more inspiring than nature: the flow, the feeling of the infinite, the mystery … in these things I find a spiritual connection, and, in turn, the inspiration for my fused glass designs.”

❱❱ Comb Goddess, 1104 S. Lincoln Suite 102 , Old West Building, 970-871-0606

Don Schwartz enjoys spending time immersed in the landscapes around Steamboat Springs and beyond. Through his photography of nature’s landscapes and the inspiring creatures that inhabit them, he seeks to capture a moment in time that becomes a timeless moment. The photographs on display capture slices of Steamboat in different seasons along with landscapes and animals encountered during recent travels.

❱❱ East West Frame Shop, in the alley at Eighth and Oak streets, 970-879-5225

“Steamboat in the Summertime” is the current exhibit theme. Featuring colorful original and giclee art by Michelle Ideus; new works in the Cruiser Bike Series; and Kismit Originals, unique handcrafted creations of silver and ceramic by local artisan Gail Holthausen. Refreshments will be served.

❱❱ Harwigs/L’Apogee, 911 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-1919

Harwigs/L’Apogee hosts the photography of Kim Keith as well as a variety of special events thorough the month of August highlighting photographic art that encourages viewer participation.

❱❱ High Mountain Sotheby’s International Realty, 708 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-8101

Jess Aldighieri, a local photographer, continues her whimsical story of “Italia,” with scenes of the Amalfi Coast. 

❱❱ Jim Steinberg Photography/Portfolio Collection, 1016 Oak St., 970-879-3718

Jim Steinberg displays photographs of Colorado in summer. Expect to see landscapes filled with blooming wildflowers and Colorado mountain scenes.

❱❱ K. Saari Gallery, 837 Lincoln Ave., 970-870-0188

KSG opens the exhibit “Opening Doors: Will Day.” The show, which runs through Aug. 28, features new paintings by the Boulder artist.

❱❱ Kneading Hands, 306 Oak St., 970-846-9032

From 5 to 7 p.m., Kneading Hands hosts a reception for youth artists from Poogie’s Place, a program run by Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association in which children and their parents receive peer support after the loss of a loved one. Preschoolers through teens use art, music, writing, photography, storytelling and physical activities as a way to express their feelings with peers who are also experiencing grief.

❱❱ Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, 68 Ninth St., 970-879-6830

Off the Beaten Path Bookstore’s walls will be adorned with Dona Steele’s pastel paintings and mini-collages inspired by water and sky. Hues of blue will take you on an imagined journey to the sea. 

❱❱ Sleeping Giant Gallery, 601 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-7143

Local fine art by nature photographer Don Tudor and Raku stoneware and porcelain by Brown Cannon.

❱❱ Steamboat Art Museum, 807 Lincoln Ave., 970-870-1755

“Scott Christensen, Landscape Paintings” shows through Oct. 15. The museum offers a free docent talk and tour about the exhibit from 5 to 5:30 p.m. every Friday.

❱❱ Steamboat Springs Arts Council at the Depot, 1001 13th St., 970-879-9008

The Arts Council presents Joan Hoffmann, “Landscape Painting – Forty Years in Routt County.” The artist will be there to discuss landscape painting and her prolific exhibition of recent works.

❱❱ Steamboat Springs Center for Visual Arts, 906 Lincoln Ave., 970-846-5970

CVA’s summer show is in full swing with an exhibition of new works by 45 local artists. This month’s featured artist, Gloria Romanelli, presents “Steamboat Classics,” oil paintings of Steamboat’s best loved and classic landmarks. Complimentary wine and apps served tonight.

❱❱ Urbane, 703 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-9169

This month the store’s walls will be decorated with the woodwork of surfboard maker Paul Hobson and the wood carvings of Brian Leach.

❱❱ Wild Horse Gallery, 802 Lincoln Ave., 970-879-5515

Wild Horse Gallery will feature the work of local artists Jean Perry and Curtis Zabel.

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