Ben “BenJamin” Stielow graduated from Summit High School in 1993 and is now a very successful award-winning metalsmith artist touring the U.S.
He is the son of Betty and Tom Stielow, who used to own PJ’s Pizza in Dillon, so Ben knows well the art of pies and metals.
Now living in Conifer, Stielow has a studio and a wife (Kyle) and two kids: Alix, 9, and Levi, 6.
Stielow is one of over 120 artists at the 39th annual Gathering at the Great Divide Mountain art Festival this weekend in Breckenridge.
Following the advice he was given at the first art show he attended — “Make what you like, don’t try and make what you think someone else might like” — Ben is living the dream, as they say.
“That advice,” he said, “is what has led to my amazing steel aspen sculptural pieces.”
Stielow creates his metal art using raw steel plate, copper sheet and a hand-held plasma torch to freehand cut all the details of his original aspen pieces. He then uses different patinas to color the metal and a clear sealant to keep it looking attractive.
Some of his pieces also include a painted background, which emulates the night sky just at the beginning of twilight behind the silhouette of his trees.
Stielow exhibits his work at many art shows scattered across the U.S., though admits he is still getting used to the title of “artist.”
In 2009, Stielow won awards at four of the six judged shows that he attended, including Best Metal at the Boulder Creek Fine Art Tent, Jurors’ Mention at the Castle Pines Art Show, Best of Mixed Media at the Golden Fine Arts Festival and the Judges’ Award for Metal at the Castle Rock Art Festival.
In 2011, his works earned second Best of Show at Arts in the Square in Frisco, Texas.
In 2013 he was voted Best of Show for Metal at the Kimball Arts Festival in Pack City, Utah; 2014 Best of Metal at Arts in the Square in Frisco, Texas; Best of Metal at the Gold Coast Art Fair, and an Award of Excellence at the Edina (Minnesota) Art Fair recently.
Growing up in Dillon, Stielow began working with metal about 20 years ago while working as an apprentice at Copper Mountain Resort in vehicle maintenance.
His artistic side began to surface after developing a firm foundation of welding skills. His first official cutout was a gift, a house sign that reads “4J Ranch.”
The 39th annual Gathering at the Great Divide Mountain Art Festival is located at North Main Street at Wellington in Breckenridge. Show times are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, and until 4 p.m. on Monday, with free admission. For more info call 970-547-9326 or visit www.mountainartfestivals.com.
“Make what you like, don’t try and make what you think someone else might like.”