Reinterpreting Colorado , COLORADO LIFE 2/2023

Reinterpreting Colorado

Images of Colorado’s grandeur appear often in film and print; iconic views of high altitude scenery, snowy vistas and rocky Front Range formations. From Maroon Bells to Hanging Lake to Garden of the Gods, tourists seek out such hallowed sites, most widely recognizable. Which is why the art of native Coloradoan Topher Straus is so profound, interpreting both the majestic and familiar in a way that allows the viewer to see what is known and loved with new eyes and enhanced appreciation.

A former documentary filmmaker who studied under Robert Altman in Los Angeles, California, Straus also received a BFA in Fine Art in 1997. Painting the wilderness became an extension of his own love of the outdoors, an environment in which he thrives as a hiker and skier and also, where he lives in a mountain home overlooking Denver. Captivated by the natural landscape and America’s national parks in particular, his first one-man show took place in 2019 in Denver, exhibiting a newfound technique that wedded modern technology to the tradition of landscape painting. By selecting specific images from personal photographs, he translates colors and shapes into a myriad of strokes and marks with a “digital brush”, utilizing a computer’s almost limitless palette of color to bring the image to life. A sense of depth and atmosphere are enhanced in the process, creating a vivid new reality. The work is further heightened by the scale of the paintings, sized either 30 x 60 or 45 x 90.  Sublimated (affixed) onto aluminum sheets, the paintings are brilliant, luminous and long lasting statements that both engage and envelope the viewer.

“The way I choose the specific Colorado landscapes,” said Straus, “is based on the places people love, places where memories are made. With deep roots in this state (my grandparents helped settle Leadville) I always dreamed of coming back to Colorado once I became successful. From London to New Zealand, I carried a Colorado flag with me and mounted it wherever I lived. Ironically, it took coming home to find true success.”

Sought after by collectors around world, the artist’s impact has been successful and enduring. From exhibitions at the American Mountaineering Museum in Golden to the Grand Tetons National Park Museum in Wyoming, his colorful and dynamic work reaches across cultural and geographic boundaries. His success has been further fueled by a commitment to philanthropy, having committed over $75,000 to-date, funding charities and organization that assist in food insecurity, welfare and housing within the state of Colorado. Straus also funds young artists starting their artistic careers.

Straus is represented by galleries in Vail, Breckenridge, Winter Park, Telluride, Aspen, and Boulder, plus Park City, Utah, and has work on display at several locations in the greater Denver area. Collectors may contact Straus through his website for a personal tour of his home gallery and studio. A solo exhibition opens in Boulder at R Gallery December 2nd thru January 5, 2023. 

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