Breckenridge is recognized nationally first as a ski destination and second as a historic mining town that has retained much of its Victorian charm.
But to pigeonhole Breck as a relic of the old west or a snow-sports resort would be a mistake.
Inserted between historic buildings and ski-apparel shops, is a well-established arts district of nearly a dozen galleries and studios.
Concentrated in the core of downtown Breckenridge, the arts district is essentially designed to be toured like a museum spread out across a Victorian town. So much so, that the second Saturday of every month, the town and galleries host an "art walk" inviting people, prospective buyers and admirers alike, to stroll up or down Main Street, visiting each gallery and meeting with artists (who often do live demonstrations) and owners.
For those who can't make it to the second-Saturday art walk, the tour can be taken individually.
Breckenridge relaxes in the afternoons, when the lifts shut down, and an apres, no-where-to-be atmosphere prime for taking time - between cocktails or cups of hot chocolate - to pick through the town's surprisingly rich art scene.
Each gallery is different, surviving in such a small market, by finding and knowing its niche. The artwork sold on Main Street is varied enough to interest buyers of almost any taste, while the inventory is big enough to keep those who would rather look than purchase busy for a while.
An art tour of Breckenridge should start, like the second-Saturday walk, on the south end of town, near Peak 9 with Breckenridge Fine Art and Arts Alive!
Breckenridge Fine Art, one of the earliest galleries in town, is primarily an impressionist gallery that strives for the quality and atmosphere of a museum. Specializing in oils and sculptures, many of which are florals and landscapes, the gallery is almost overwhelming in its selection, which covers every wall from floor to ceiling. The atmosphere invites a serious collector for those interested in buying.
Arts Alive! on the other hand, is a cooperative, featuring the work of 40 local artists. The work, while spanning almost every medium and style, is across the board, heavily influenced by the Colorado mountain landscape. Arts Alive! features a lower-price range than many of its neighboring galleries and the collection includes everything from oils and photography to jewelry and glassware.
Nearby, up a level from Main Street, is the Fox Ridge Fine Art Glass Gallery. Those planning to look, but not buy, face the strongest temptation in Fox Ridge. The gallery is a bright, interesting space, featuring only the work of American and, primarily, Colorado artists. The collection is both ornamental and functional, delicate and bold, but generally colorful and fun.
Further down Main Street, art tourists will find Gary Soles Gallery, a collection of wilderness photography, Art on a Whim, a fine art retailer that specializes in silly, humorous or whimsical work and several others.
Second Saturday Gallery Walks run 4-8 p.m., but individual gallery hours vary.