Cherry Creek Lifestyles: Topher Straus
Topher Straus is a fine artist who has a creative yet methodical approach to his artisanship. One look upon his art, and it is apparent that he is one with nature. New adventures, fun hobbies and the great outdoors inspire his collections of large scale paintings.
There seems to be this perceived notion that an artist is an individual who only spontaneously creates. This is quite the opposite for Topher. Through an enlightening conversation, we at Cherry Creek Lifestyle, came to the conclusion that every artist's approach to his or her work is different.
“My work is very calculated. I wake up every day, around 5 or 6:30, and I try to get work done before my son wakes up for school. It is very hard work.” His creativity comes alive through a very methodical process, giving attention to every detail. It is evident that he thoroughly thinks through his craft with both logic and emotion. Much like the unrepeatable methods artists have for creating, observers experience art uniquely as well. For Topher, this is the most valuable aspect of art. “We all take in art differently. It’s such a powerful medium. Art inspires people to think and feel.”
To interpret something so uniquely from the person sitting next to us, truly is magnificent. Although human minds encapsulate art differently, it is still powerful enough to bring people together. “Art is a form of connection. It is a way to communicate thoughts and ideas. Due to Covid, this is what is most important now more than ever. We are learning the importance of connection and how to connect again.”
Topher believes that one way we connect as human beings is through our appreciation for nature—his current muse. The message he hopes to communicate through his latest work is the preservation of nature. In viewing Topher’s natural landscapes, one may feel motivated to experience the wonder of the great outdoors. “People have a personal connection with nature. Nature has given me so much and has filled my canvases over the years. The iconic vistas and views that I capture really resonate with people and even first-time collectors.”
It is no secret that artists do unexpected things to set themselves apart from creators in their same media. With just one glimpse at Topher’s work, his signature style immediately becomes memorable. By using modern technology and methods that are fairly new to the art scene, he creates in a way that is very rarely utilized by other fine artists. He begins with a photograph of a natural landscape and examines the photo. He seeks the most intriguing aspects of the image and the most prominent colors. Then, he takes a stylus and selects specific colors from the original image—turning it into a palette—and paints over the photograph with those original colors.
“My art is full of rhythm. I have always seen nature in a very delineated and abstract way. I don’t know of any other artist that sees nature this way.” For him, the process is all about adventure and experience. “I immerse myself in the environment. I stay in hostels, I hitchhike to the top of mountains, I meet with locals, and I get on my bike and ride from zero to ten-thousand feet above sea level.”
Embarking on great adventures play a huge role in his artistry, it is his favorite way to capture the richness and authenticity of a scene.
However, in the beginning, art never crossed Topher’s mind. While attending Kent Denver School he gained experience working as an actor. Later, he went on to attend Syracuse University’s film school in New York where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He was surrounded by students who had been creating art their whole lives, and that is how he learned his craft.
His focus remained on making movies, directing, acting and producing films. Upon graduation, he moved to Los Angeles and worked with Academy Award winning directors, Robert Altman and Curtis Hanson. He continued his film career in New Zealand and traveled the world. Over the years, he painted but never revealed his art to anyone. While in New Zealand he became a father and made the choice to finally share his work with others. “I decided I needed to be a good role model for my son. He helped me put my heart out there and share my own unique way of looking at the truth.” Soon after, he moved back to his home roots here in Colorado.
Currently, as an artist, he believes his main responsibility is to give back. He feels very humbled to be in a position where he has the opportunity to raise money to help people in need. Through selling his art on his online store, he has given back $40,000 to nonprofit organizations. “It fills my heart to know that I can use my work to create a positive change in our community. Now, more than ever, we need active participants to help make positive changes.” He strives to be an advocate for the arts community and for his home state.
As for future plans, in 2021 his “Tetons National Park” painting will be on permanent exhibit at the visitor’s center in the Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming. Art collectors can purchase various pieces on his website. He offers one original size 45” x 90” and 25 limited edition size 30” x 60”. “I value my collectors and want them to have something special, so I only create one series of each landscape.”
Observers can find his work represented in many areas of Colorado Vail International Gallery, Breckenridge Gallery, R Gallery Art Bar in Boulder, The Kowen Gallery in Westminster, Uptripping in Winter Park, Evergreen’s Mystic Trinity Gallery and Slate Gray Gallery in Telluride.