Eclectic group of artists open new gallery in Steamboat Springs
September 22, 2016
Steamboat Springs — Inside Steamboat Springs’ newest art gallery, several people could be heard debating the pros and cons of leaving two rather large exotic bunny sculptures out on the sidewalk to attract visitors — “Who's going to be able to move a 800-pound sculpture?” asked one voice floating from the gallery.
"You know, people with a truck and a few beers …" countered a colleague.
Never fear, the bunny sculptures are safely secured and a big hit for downtown Steamboat.
Be it the bunnies' famous sculptor or a forensic scientist who left blood-soaked crime scenes for art or a former Texan who wanted to hide messy hair after skiing … an eclectic group of artists have joined forces to create the artist-owned and operated Pine Moon Fine Art Gallery on Ninth Street.
"I get to feel a reaction from people, because I also work in here," said sculptor Sandy Graves, whose art can be found coast to coast as well as in Steamboat.
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Graves joins a dozen other local artists in the new gallery, including retired forensic scientist Sandi Poltorak who serves as the gallery's curator.
"I didn't go to school in art, and this was my second go-around," Poltorak said of her newest career.
Despite this, her fellow Steamboat artists had faith in Poltorak's ability to lay out their art for the public. Poltorak retired from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation where she worked crime scenes and drew sketches of "bad guys" for the police. Her drawing ability led to "graphite realism."
"In layman's terms, I do pencil drawings that look like photographs," she said.
For now, most of Poltorak's stunning collection can be temporarily viewed at Harwigs restaurant on Lincoln Avenue.
Meanwhile, back at the Pine Moon gallery, out-of-towners Sheri and Mike Wolcott walked in to view artist Tibby Speare's jewelry.
"At the Farmers Market, I saw a pair of her earrings that I loved," Sheri Wolcott said. "I wanted her to make a necklace to match it."
This kind of public interaction is why Pine Moon's artists wanted their own space.
"Most galleries have a single owner and that owner hires employees and advertises," said Graves. "In this type of gallery, I spend time with the public."
In other words, any time visitors come into the gallery they'll be dealing with one or more of the artists themselves. So not only are the artists showing their own work, they become intimate with the artwork of their friends and colleagues who own the gallery with them.
"We get to meet the public and clients who follow our work," said painter Lance Whitner, whose huge contemporary mountain landscape delights visitors as they enter the gallery. "We get to hear direct feedback."
"And sometimes it's not nice," added artist and Steamboat native Sandra Sherrod.
"That's what makes life interesting," Whitner said.
In fact, "interesting, talented and fascinating" aptly describes the artists themselves at Pine Moon. "Surprising" is another apt adjective for the artists and their work. Sue Gallion hangs her hooked wool and watercolors at the gallery, but it's her winter hats that people snatch up.
"I moved here 19 years ago, but before that, I decided when you went skiing you need something to cover up your bad hair day,” Gallion said. “Not just an old knitted ski hat that's all worn and wet.”
She calls them "artware," and some of the hats have actual pictures painted on their brims. She picks up scraps of fabric as she travels and each hat becomes a wearable canvas.
"It's just been the most fun because everyone of them is different. I never make the same one twice," Gallion said.
For those who haven't been to the Pine Moon gallery across from Azteca Taqueria, it's an old space that was redesigned by building owner Ben Malloy to splendid effect.
"He's a big supporter of the arts and wanted to make it a showplace," said Abby Jensen, whose untouched wildlife photographs line some of the walls. “It's an architecturally beautiful gallery space.”
Jensen said the artists plan on changing up the gallery content the Monday before every First Friday Artwalk when downtown Steamboat Springs features its artists in various shops and galleries.
For now, Pine Moon Fine Art is opened from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Check out their Facebook page for updated hours and their grand opening in December.