Time to paint

Retired teacher devotes himself to his work




¤ Exhibit opening for works by Rich Galusha, Greg Effinger, Lee Stroncek, Vince Valdez and Ken Sullivan¤ 5 to 8 p.m. today¤ The Wild Horse Gallery in the Sheraton Steamboat Resort¤ The works will be exhibited through the end of the ski season in April.

Richard Galusha has owned an art gallery for eight years, but the gallery never has had a show dedicated to his work.

As the art teacher at Steamboat Springs High School, Galusha painted about 100 pieces a year, but this weekend will mark his first gallery show at the Wild Horse Gallery in the Sheraton Steamboat Resort. It will be his first show of any kind since 1998.

He has shown some of his work at the gallery before, but the pieces always sold before he could build a collection large enough for a show.

Galusha retired last year after teaching for 19 years, and he bought a camper as a retirement present. He hoped to slow down his life and concentrate on art.

"I psychologically told myself that I would go half speed, but I could never go half speed, because I couldn't figure out what that was," Galusha said. "I've been trying to find my rhythm, and I think I've found it.

"This is what I worked hard for to be able to do. It was nice to end the (teaching) career so I could spend more time on this career."

Most of his gallery pieces are reflections of his regional travels during the past year. Western landscapes dominate the show, but he also will be showing Nepal Market, an oil painting inspired by a scene from one of his trips overseas. He has been to Greece three times and to Africa and Europe on numerous occasions. Next month, Galusha will travel to Yosemite National Park in California, and he will head to Spain later this year.

Galusha, who owns the Wild Horse Gallery with his wife, Shirley Stocks, has traveled the world to find ideal settings for his paintings. Typically, Galusha will take a photo of the scene and spend about 90 minutes painting studies at the location. He bases his final paintings off those studies, which are tiny in comparison to the final works.

He considers himself an impressionist and a realist.

"When you look at it, there is a lot of simplistic brush work," Galusha said. "It looks like I paint the leafs in, but I don't."

Most of the paintings in his new exhibit are the result of camping trips with his wife, who also is an artist.

"What we do is we go, and we'll paint in the afternoon, have dinner and go to sleep, and wake up and paint in the morning, when the light is different," Galusha said.

The Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area is one of the Western landscapes to be exhibited today at the show's opening reception. The painting shows the rocky peaks prevalent in the Zirkels, rock outcroppings and wildflowers.

"It's the primitive look at it," Galusha said. "It's not developed. It's a very classical look of a landscape, which is what I was trying to achieve, which involves a lot of drawing skill, color skill and compositional skills."

Other artists featured in the new exhibit include Gregory Effinger, one of Galusha's former art students. Also featured is the art of longtime local Lee Stroncek, bronze wildlife sculptor Vince Valdez and Ken Sullivan, a Western bronze sculptor.

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