Steele got it | SteamboatToday.com

Steele got it

Local artist stays involved in Steamboat scene after years away

Margaret Hair

— Dona Steele has painted or decorated just about any household item that comes to mind: walls, kitchen surfaces, bathroom fixtures, golf shoes.

“Pretty much anything you name, I painted it,” said Steele, standing in front of a wall adorned with her pastel paintings. As one of the featured artists in the Depot Art Center’s Emerging Artists Gallery, Steele is getting a chance to show off her more traditional artwork – the kind that doesn’t involve faux finishing or an interior designer.

Originally from Naples, Fla., Steele lived in Steamboat for 13 years, migrated back to warm weather for another 13, and has been back in town for the past four years. Her commitment to the Steamboat Springs Arts Council goes back to her first years in the Yampa Valley in the late 1970s, when she worked as a graphic artist for the Steamboat Pilot.

For the past couple of years, her involvement with the Arts Council has included teaching classes in the Kaleidoscope Art Exploration for Kids summer program – a connection that works well with her degree in art education from Florida State University.

“When I moved back, I figured I wanted to start painting again,” Steele said, adding she’s been working in that medium since she was about 4 years old.

Steele also makes canvas mats, pieces she said were once “poor man’s carpet” and are stretched, painted and lacquered until they’re semi-firm and usable as flooring. When she first started working in the craft, Steele said there weren’t many how-to books on the topic.

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“In the last 15 or 20 years or so with the resurgence of old crafts, it’s gotten easier. Anything that was old is becoming new again,” she said.

Steele said her paintings ended up in the Emerging Artists Gallery after Linda Laughlin, director of visual arts for the Arts Council, took one of Steele’s classes on canvas mats and asked her if she had enough work to put on display.

“I said, ‘I’ve got a lot. It’ll strip the walls at my house, but that’s OK,'” Steele said.