Steamboat Springs Sheri Johnson Worth always has been an artist.
And for the better part of 18 years, she ran her graphic design company out of Telluride. But when the recession hit a couple years ago, it did no favors to her business.
Where one door closed, another love emerged.
Johnson Worth, who lived in Steamboat for years before relocating to Telluride in 1986, knew her love of painting was important at that moment.
“I said, 'Look, if you’re not going to paint now when are you going to do it?’” Johnson Worth said.
So she took her lifetime love of painting and made it a career.
She will have her first solo art show as part of the First Friday Artwalk.
Her show, Flying Dreams, opens at 5 p.m. Friday at the Depot Art Center. She will show her artwork along with artist Eva Luna, who will be displaying her watercolor images.
Johnson Worth also will host a morning art talk at 10 a.m. Saturday.
The inspiration for Johnson Worth’s show comes from three trips to the Grand Canyon in 2008, 2012 and 2013.
Along the way, she became enamored with the changing light and beauty around her. She’d sketch on the trip and take photographs.
“It was rafting, hiking, painting and singing around the campfire,” she said. “It’s special to drop the city. To drop all connections you have. You get to let go of everything.”
The images she creates bring out the Grand Canyon’s striking shadows and light changes.
It is the changing light that gives her paintings a deep sense of reality.
“I hope people get some sense of what it’s like,” she said. “I hope they get a sense of place. I want to communicate a love of space. I got that love out of it.”
Dona Steele, the visual arts coordinator for Steamboat Springs Arts Council, has known Johnson Worth for years. Steele travels down to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and this past summer, she walked into Johnson Worth’s studio and fell in love with what she saw.
One painting in particular, a shot of a canyon and water reflecting, captured her attention.
“It was so vibrant,” Steele said. “I immediately took to sitting on the boat on that river.”
Steele knew she had to get Johnson Worth into an exhibition in Steamboat, and they’ve been planning the show since June.
Johnson Worth’s art is ever expanding. Many of her pieces are realistic shots of the canyon, but she’s started to bring in more abstract techniques, blurring the point of reference and eliminating the horizon.
As her technical skill has grown, she said she hopes her passion for the canyon and art comes through on the canvas.
“I love it,” she said. “You can forget the car, and the phone is gone. You put that together, and the rhythm of your day is completely different.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229, email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @LukeGraham