Canyon Courier feature on Topher Straus' Exhibition

Article by: Deborah Swearingen

For Topher Straus, there’s nothing more inspiring than nature. 

Topher Straus will be featured in a show at the American Mountaineering Museum in Golden.

“For me, being outside in nature allows your soul to be free. It disconnects you with the world around you,” he said. “... That’s why I choose to do my art in Genesee, to produce it in Genesee. Because I love the mountains. I love the fresh air. I love seeing the stars at night.”

Oftentimes, being an artist requires taking a risk and putting yourself out there.

That’s what the Genesee-based artist did for his first exhibit at Bitfactory in Denver’s Santa Fe Art District, and it’s what he did for his latest exhibit, set to open July 18 at the American Mountaineering Museum in Golden.

“He just showed up one day honestly,” Eric Rueth, museum manager at the American Mountaineering Museum, said, laughing.

But Straus’ work — primarily large-scale, colorful interpretations of landscapes — fit in perfectly with the museum’s upcoming art exhibit. Reuth believes the pieces will be “a good way to hopefully draw … a broader crowd.”

Heidi McDowell, museum events manager, agreed.

“... Topher’s work is very beautiful. It’s creative. It’s imaginative. It’s eye capturing. You can’t help but look at his work,” she said. “And with the national parks theme, it was definitely a natural fit.”

The majority of the pieces that will be on display at the museum feature national parks, though there is a new piece of art of the Maroon Bells in Aspen that Straus is set to debut in the exhibit.

To create large interpretations of the natural world he loves, Straus uses his computer, a stylus and touchpad to recreate photographs he’s taken. He draws and paints over the digital image and then prints it onto transfer paper, which is placed on top of aluminum.

“It causes the colors from the transfer paper to go permanently into the aluminum on a molecular level, and then I put a resin over it,” he said.

Straus’ journey to visual art is a bit unconventional. While attending film art school, he was required to take an art class. Though he worked alongside those with years of artistic experience under their belt, he appreciated the challenge.

“Having that blank slate allowed me to see things differently,” he said, noting that he quickly realized how much he loved it.

It began as a personal journey, and Straus only recently began sharing his work with the public. Now he incorporates frequent hiking and biking explorations, trips across the globe and time spent with his son, Oliver, into his work. To Straus, art is as necessary as the air he breathes.

“Art is living, experiencing,” he said.

Want to go? An opening reception for the art exhibit will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. July 18 at the American Mountaineering Museum, 710 10th St. in Golden. Straus will be there to discuss his work. The exhibit will be viewable through Sept. 30 during regular hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $7.

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