Professional musician, camera store owner, portrait shooter, red-ski-suit-wearing photo seller, poster designer, custom woodworker, clothing entrepreneur.
Rick Bear has been all those and more since moving to Steamboat in 1971. In the process, it’s put him in touch with countless locals and visitors and reaffirmed why he’s glad to call Steamboat home.
“It’s been a great place for all these ventures,” he says. “Even in the worst winter, it’s still a remarkable place.”
It didn’t take long for him to leave his mark. First, he opened a camera store called The Positive-Negative. Taking portraits of local families and weddings helped him get to know almost everyone who lived here. He also donned a red cape to ski around and take pictures of skiers, long before Sharp Shooters came around. Next, he opened music store All the Fixin’s, then later started a studio and gallery called The Portfolio Collection.
Then he started playing music, joining Joe Ghiglia and Mary MacGregor in a band called Leaner, Lunker and Betsy (their dogs’ names). How good were they? MacGregor went on to record “Torn Between Two Lovers” in 1976, which topped the Billboard charts for two weeks. Yet another outlet for his creativity was designing posters for local events as well as marketing materials for various businesses.
He was so good at it that it led to his only departure from the Yampa Valley. After leaving for nine years to work in an ad agency in Michigan, he returned in 1993 without missing a creative beat. A master carpenter who’s made everything from counters to cabinets for businesses such as The Chocolate Factory and the Tread of Pioneers Museum, he served on the first Steamboat Springs Arts Council board and helped reorganize the Yampa Valley Foundation into the Yampa Valley Community Foundation in 1996. He also produced a documentary on the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp and helped spearhead the building of Rotary Park.
“Most people have three jobs to live here,” he says. “I’ve had about 13, some concurrent and some by themselves. I’m a rogue that way; I like to stay interested in what I do.”
After all these endeavors, you’d think he’s allergic to idleness. That’s certainly the case with his most recent venture, which capitalizes on that theme.
Developing the Allergic to Cities concept with graphic designer Matt Scharf, he along with wife, Suz, have turned the slogan into a successful clothing line featuring more than 100 variations from Allergic to Work to Allergic to School. They even rolled out an Allergic to Land line after buying and sailing a 42-foot Manta Catamaran. The whole premise, he says, is to inspire people to get out there and do what makes them feel good. They recently traveled to Virginia Beach to talk to a new licensee for the line.
With four grown kids and three grandkids, at age 66 he’s hardly slowing down. He recently leased woodworking space from Kevin Feweda (“I was jonesing to make sawdust,” he says) and still plays music as Leaner, Lunker and Friends with Ghiglia every Friday night at The Rusted Porch.
“I love the creativity of making something out of nothing,” he says. “In music, you take a bunch of notes and turn them into a song. In woodworking, you turn wood into usable products. And I couldn’t imagine doing it all anyplace other than Steamboat.”