A Retail Space in Historic Downtown Parker, CO
Text by Bonnie Gangelhoff · Photos by Marc Piscotty
This story was featured in the April 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art April 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Describe your studio. My studio is a retail space that used to be a fly-fishing shop in historic downtown Parker, CO. The front part of the studio is set up as a gallery with track lighting and a display area. This serves two purposes. First, I can take a painting off of the easel, put it in a frame, and then take it out to the front room and hang it in order to see what it would look like under the lights in a gallery or museum show. Second, it is an excellent place to show current works to studio visitors. Off to the side is my office and library. I have collected art and reference books from all over the world for the past 30 years. There is no way I could ever replace them if there was a flood or fire. The back of the space is where I work. The 17-foot ceilings are perfect for larger works and offer a feeling of not being too crowded. Natural light comes in from windows on the north and east sides. Visitors are welcome by appointment. I also enjoy hosting studio parties and workshops here, too.
What elements were important to you in designing your studio? I think it is important to have separate rooms for creating, showing, and for business matters. I learned this from a book on Walt Disney. He had a room for dreaming, a separate room for designing, and another space for financial matters.
How does living in the Rocky Mountains influence your work? There is no doubt that growing up in the mountains of Colorado has had a profound influence on my life and art. I have always loved the outdoors and adventure, and my life as a landscape painter certainly has had plenty of both. Although there are many other beautiful places, I do not see myself leaving Colorado. I have been painting my home state for over 30 years, and I am nowhere near running out of material.
What inspires you to paint a scene? Rather than just being content with a pretty picture, I challenge myself to add more of a concept to each painting. I want to tell a story. That is easy to do with figures or animals, but it is more challenging with pure landscape. If I have a good idea, I just can’t wait to get started painting it. It could be a dramatic shadow, amazing color, or a certain texture that catches my eye.
You have said that water is your favorite subject to paint. Why? I think after a couple decades of painting, artists become known for certain subjects that they keep coming back to. This is as true today as it was 100 or 500 years ago. I keep coming back to water because it is so challenging and because I am a fly-fisherman. However, I think it may go deeper—we are all drawn to water, knowing how dependent we are on it to survive. In this country and time in our history, we take clean drinking water for granted.
What draws you to landscape painting over other genres? As a commercial illustrator, I painted everything from architectural renderings to portraits of sports figures. During that time I was sharing a studio with Quang Ho, and we used to
kid and say we were “dial-a-style.” We worked in every medium, from pastels to airbrush. During my life there have been many different chapters, but one of the constants has been my love for the outdoors. Of course I enjoy the Rocky Mountains, but I also have spent a lot of time in tropical areas, as well as the Sonoran Desert. From a 14,000-foot peak to the beach, I love it all. I admire good still-life and figurative works, but maybe they remind me too much of being an illustrator, with art directors and deadlines.
Do you listen to music while you work? I like to listen to Pandora Internet radio on a Ludwig van Beethoven channel. I listen to all different types of music, but I find that classical music helps me focus best. I have always listened to books on tape, too. Biographies, histories, and nonfiction in general are my favorites.
If your studio were on fire, what is one thing you would save? I would probably save my computer, with all my reference photos, and my rare books—as many as I could carry.
Where do you like to take people when they come to visit you? There are many good restaurants within walking distance. I have many special places and hikes I like to show them in the mountains that are within a couple hours’ drive. Fly-fishing is always high on the list.
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