Engaging, bright, unique and intriguing.
These are the adjectives that Brian Raitman, owner of Art on a Whim gallery in Breckenridge, uses to describe the work of Alex Gupton, the latest artist to join the collection.
“Every once in a while somebody approaches us that we’re just totally blown away by and can’t wait to show,” Raitman said.
From Friday throughout the weekend, Gupton will be at the gallery working on a new piece and chatting with anyone who cares to stop by.
From feet to inches, murals to detail
Gupton’s commercial art career got its start in college, when some friends opening a bar offered him free drinks in exchange for decorating their walls. That ‘dream job,’ as he jokingly calls it, soon led to other commissions and before he knew it, he had a career as a muralist.
“The murals paid my bills for years,” Gupton said. He painted inside and outside, on building exteriors and hotel lobbies, spaces stretching 30 feet and more.
While Gupton enjoyed doing the murals, he wasn’t ready to let himself be limited by them. Eventually he began working with a new medium — acrylics mixed with pen and ink.
The majority of Gupton’s work that will be on display at Art on a Whim are these acrylic paintings. The backgrounds are bold acrylics, with a central subject, such as a treble clef symbol or an animal. Within the central subject, Gupton creates intricate pen-and-ink drawings of mountains and wildlife scenes.
His inspiration from these scenes comes from visits to the Colorado and Wyoming areas.
“How could you walk out in Breckenridge and walk around and not be inspired is beyond me,” Gupton said. “It’s so gorgeous.”
Mosaics and bronze
In addition to murals, acrylic, and pen and ink, Gupton creates large mosaics from ceramic tile. He does much of this in his home state of Hawaii. Most recently, he was commissioned to do two large mosaics for Disney’s resort in Hawaii.
“For an artist, working for Disney is huge, it’s an awesome deal,” Raitman said.
Going between so many different mediums in his artwork requires coordination and balance, Gupton explained. He has no interest in “forsak(ing) one for the other” and plans to continue with his various projects.
Brought together by fate
Gupton first came to Breckenridge a year ago, on vacation with his family. He was immediately struck with the beauty of the location and wanted to start drawing the landscape.
While walking around downtown one evening, he wandered into Art on a Whim gallery. As a previous gallery owner himself, he was eager to chat with the owners and see what type of art was on display.
“We had no idea when he came into the gallery that he was an artist,” Raitman said.
The more Gupton and the Raitman family talked, the more they clicked and the next thing they knew they were looking at Gupton’s artwork and planning to bring him in as part of the permanent collection.
“I could not be more thrilled; it’s working out absolutely beautifully,” Gupton said of his partnership with the gallery. “It was obviously meant to be.”
Raitman admits it’s been hard to sit on Gupton’s pieces for the better part of the year and he’s excited to finally display them for the public. As a gallery owner, he looks at hundreds of pieces of art every month, “and I’ve never seen anything like his work,” he said.
Gupton is also looking forward to his weekend in Breckenridge, not only for the beauty of the mountains but for the chance to interact with other art lovers. At the gallery, he’ll be working on the detailed pen-and-ink section of a piece featuring a rainbow trout. His work with murals and in a houseful of children have inured him to noisy distractions, he said.
“I have no problems working around people. I’ve always been attuned to having noise and distraction and not worrying,” he said. “I enjoy chatting to people and visiting and whatnot and working at the same time. They will see me with my little pen and ink in hand, filling in little details on my little rainbow trout piece. It should be pretty fun.”
Gupton invites anyone who’s interested to stop by the gallery and to not be afraid to get right up close to his paintings to see the pen-and-ink detail. He’s even got a pair of reading glasses available to borrow.
If anyone wants to drop in on the gallery and chat, “I would be absolutely honored,” he said.