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Steamboat Magazine


12/01/2003 01:00AM ● By Anonymous

Winter 2003:


Colorful muralist brings rain forest friends to life     Elephants thrive at Mocha Molly’s coffee shop in downtown Steamboat Springs. They’re in their native environment, surrounded by the rain forest and critters of Africa. Africa?     Peace Corps veteran and professional muralist Chula Walker-Griffith brought home more than two years’ teaching experience from Gabon, a small country in Central Africa. “I had a lot of time to paint because of the slolifestyle,” Chula says. “There were amazingly inspirational views out my windoand in the rain forest outside the village.”     While she was in Gabon, she worked with local children on a mural depicting a map of the world, surrounded by the rain forest of Gabon. The children drethe animals; she filled in the background.     “The chief of the village took me out into the rain forest. He knehoto introduce me to the environment,” she says. “I like to represent things accurately. It’s a matter of respect and learning. If you knohoa plant grows, you can paint it better.”     Chula’s art combines a naturalist’s eye with a fanciful imagination to entice viewers into an exotic setting, whether it be a medieval castle, a coral reef or a butterfly garden. “Anything with a lot of life, I like to paint it. I also like to create a sense of illusion. It’s so neat to have a vision and to transform a space into art.” Chula especially enjoys painting murals for children’s rooms. “I love working with kids on murals,” she says. “They have so much enthusiasm.”     Chula could think of no more fitting tribute to her Steamboat Springs High School classmate, Nathan Herzog, than to establish a children’s art project in his memory. After Nathan died in 1999, Chula and Nathan’s mother, Sally, began work on the Peace Project, which invites students from local schools to explore social issues through art. The project culminates in an annual exhibit at the Depot.   Like Chula’s murals and fine art, this endeavor combines her social conscience, an artist’s eye and a passion for learning. Four virtues unite fine art and craft in Depot exhibit    Form follows function as craft follows art. The line between art and craft virtually disappears at Fine Craft 2003: Four Virtues exhibit and sale, Nov. 14, 2003 – Jan. 4, 2004, at the Depot.    Award-winning woodworker Mark Koons of Wyoming curates the exhibit. Among the artists whose work Mark selected are woodturner Cindy Drozda, glassblower Laurie Thal, bit and spur maker Tom Balding and gunmaker Steven Dodd Hughes.    Mark was awarded best of shoat the Depot fine crafts exhibit and sale in 1999, judged the exhibit in 2000 and won first place in 2001.    He is perhaps best known for using his skill to create functional, fine art. For instance, his version of a sake table combines 900 pieces of end-grain walnut, laminated to create the top. The surface is carved to resemble the choppy waves out on Tokyo Bay that profoundly moved Mark when he first viewed them as a helicopter medic stationed in Japan during the Vietnam War. The tips of each wave are hand-carved on a single plane.     For Fine Craft 2003, Mark selected the theme “Four Virtues,” which he identifies as functional excellence, appropriate use of materials, truth of line, and skill of execution.     Of these, Mark surmises that skill is tantamount. “Skill understands function, knows the material, manifests the line. The greatest skill no longer strives or hesitates but, however, briefly, escapes the maker’s sense of separation from perfection to become as much a force of nature as the play of the wind in tall grass.” Riotous colors, powerful moods define landscape.    Watercolor artist Deb Proper’s summer garden is a riot of color.     “Look at this!” she exclaims. “In my mind, I could never recreate something so extremely beautiful. Instead, I try to recreate the feeling you get when you look at it – the great joy. That’s why I like to exaggerate the colors.”     Deb’s landscapes are, indeed, filled with vivid hues. She paints meadows dotted with the brilliant orange and gold colors of fall against a magenta sunset. She laughs as she recalls one observer’s comment. “Not afraid of pigment, I see,” the woman quipped.     Recently, Deb has added faces to her portfolio. Here, too, she tries not to capture distinct facial features, but the mood people convey through their personalities. She calls them her facial “mindscapes.”    Her artwork is impressionistic, unlike her training. “My training (at Boston University) was very, very traditional,” she says. “We even took anatomy classes. I believe you can’t abstract something until you can really drait.”     Deb’s painting is her avocation. Her career is an advertising sales representative for the Steamboat Pilot and Today newspapers, a position she has held for 20 years. Sometimes, her painting has to take a backseat to her work and her family, but that’s OK, too. “I am so lucky. I have discovered my passion.”    She truly is passionate about her art. “I always paint to music,” she says. “And I dance when I paint. It’s like an athlete’s high for me.” By the way, she notes, “Cows love Pink Floyd.” This she knows from experience. When she paints in the fields of rural Routt County to the tune of Roger Waters and company, she suddenly finds herself surrounded by cattle.   Could be the music, or it could be her work, which has become synonymous with Steamboat style. Sundance hopefuls set short film in Steamboat     “May I have the envelope, please? And the winner is...”     When Jason Berman won a $40,000 scholarship from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences last year, he was one of only two high school students in America chosen for the honor.     Noa sophomore in the film program at the University of Southern California, Jason is embarking on his lifetime dream of making movies – and his first one was in his home-away-from-home: Steamboat Springs. Jason and a creof 40 spent two weeks in the Yampa Valley last summer filming Rift, which they hope will be chosen for screening at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival.     “I have been coming out to Steamboat my whole life,” Jason says. “What an amazing location for a movie. We wanted to make a film that will stand apart from the other students’, so we wanted to shoot it somewhere very distinctive.”    Jason came out ahead of the creto scout out locations. Scenes for the short film were shot at Johnny B. Good’s Diner, Steamboat Springs High School, the Smokehouse, the Clark Store, a home in Steamboat II and Vista Verde Guest Ranch.     “The people in Steamboat gave us their full support,” Jason says. “Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to make this happen.”     Sound like an Emmy acceptance speech?     Rift audiences may well be watching a future celebrity, if what Jason has already accomplished is any indication. Diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 5, Jason has turned a perceived disability into an advantage. “For a lot of people, it’s something that hinders them. For me, it’s propelled me forward. It’s made me goal-oriented and persistent.” Jason speaks publicly about dyslexia, in hopes of providing inspiration to others who face the same challenges he has so successfully conquered.     What’s his next goal? A ski movie, of course.