GLENWOOD SPRINGS — It’s the question Gallery 809 hears nearly every time a customer enters the downtown Grand Avenue art gallery.
“Do you have any images of Mount Sopris?”
For the next two months, the answer will be a resounding yes.
Today marks the opening of a locals-created exhibit featuring a variety of mediums, including oil, watercolor and photography, showcasing the valley’s popular peak.
“The idea came about after one of the 809 artists mentioned that almost every time someone comes in they ask if we have any images of Mount Sopris,” said participating artist and co-organizer Cynthia Thomas. “So, by popular demand, we are doing a two-month Mount Sopris exhibition featuring Gallery 809 artists.”
The exhibit features homages to Mount Sopris by valley artists Thomas, George Cutting III, Bonnie Daniels, Heather Davis, Amelia Eshelman, Portia Griefenberg, Arlene Law, Mark Lemon, Nancy Martin, Judy Milne, Carol Murphy, Hiram Richardson and Cameron Williams. An opening reception takes place from 5-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10.
“The opening reception will be a kind of delayed ‘Happy New Year’ with wine and hors d’oeuvres and a toast to our favorite mountain,” Thomas said.
Daniels, a Glenwood artist who has been painting since 1992, said she is inspired to capture the beauty of Mount Sopris through her art.
“Mount Sopris is always changing in its mood and colors. I am sure I have done dozens of paintings of Mount Sopris,” she said. “And they have all sold or have been given to clients or friends who are leaving the valley as a memory of our valley.”
The Vicki Lee Green realtor said her outdoor landscape paintings, along with fellow Gallery 809 artists’ work, are in high demand in the valley and beyond.
“Everyone loves Mount Sopris,” she said. “And they want to own Sopris artwork that speaks to them. I have painted four different pieces in the past three weeks, and two have sold at Gallery 809. Locals want them, tourists want them. I see Hanging Lake as a future exhibit.”
An avid outdoorswoman, Daniels said she not only enjoys daily views of Sopris but also climbs the 12,965-foot-high mountain each year when she’s not capturing it on canvas.
“I used to climb Mount Sopris every Fourth of July. Now, going up isn’t the problem. It is coming down,” she said laughingly. “Although, we did slide down on the snow fields on our butts, taking a break now and then to warm our buns. I was always one of the first ones up and one of the last ones down.”
Along with Mount Sopris, many outdoor and nature settings outside of Colorado have inspired Daniels’ paintings.
“I traveled to Churchill, Manitoba, on the Hudson Bay last fall and took more than 700 photos of polar bears and fox. I have sold the majority of these pastel paintings very quickly,” she said. “It seems folks are fascinated by polar bears and now ‘What does the fox say?’ has boosted the interest in my fox paintings.”
A past winner of the Glenwood Springs Fall Art Festival, Daniels also enjoys traveling with the Glenwood Springs Art Guild each May to paint in a different location.
“We paint plein aire landscapes for a week … Steamboat, Manitou Springs, Moab, Crested Butte, Garfield, Cripple Creek,” she said.
Daniels said her participation in the guild, which puts on the long-running Fall Art Festival, has been as inspirational as nature has been in her landscapes. She said for the past 20 years she has enjoyed working in different mediums, such as oil and watercolor, in her ongoing exploration of art.
“A friend encouraged me to enter the 1992 Fall Art Festival, and I won first place, and I was hooked,” she said. “I plan on returning to my favorite medium, watercolor, when I retire. Watercolor is exact — no mistakes. I do pastel and oil now because it is faster, and if I don’t like something, I can cover it up. Watercolor is not forgiving in that way.”
Daniels’ diverse artwork has shown in the Fall Art Festival as well as the Garfield County Fair and the Palisade Peach Art Festival. She stays busy as she juggles her pursuit of art and a career as a full-time real estate agent.
“My problem is keeping up. I never seem to have an inventory,” she said. “When I was juried into Gallery 809 and they said I had to have nine paintings delivered in two days I was begging my friends for paintings that I had done for them, just so I would have something to show.”
Daniels said she has received tremendous support from her female art colleagues in the valley as she continues her pursuit of artistic passion.
“There are some amazing women in Glenwood Springs that truly make art an adventure and fun,” she said. “Kudos go to Arlene Law, Portia Griefenberg, Nancy Martin, Cynthia Thomas and especially Sally Thompson. Without them, I would not have picked up a paint brush and tried.”
As a cooperative art setting, Gallery 809 offers Daniels and her art associates the opportunity to work and show their art within a positive, creative environment.
“Gallery 809 allows someone like me — who is not a full-time professional artist or makes a professional living from selling — to have an outlet of their work,” she said. “The gallery is very diverse, with wall art, pottery, jewelry, glasswork, baskets.”
The Mount Sopris work by Daniels and her colleagues will show through January and February. Gallery 809 is also hosting a January-through-March guest exhibition by Centennial Park muralist Mary Pilon titled “Paintings of our Valley from Aspen to Rifle.”