Breckenridge artist competes in Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series, vote for him to win | SummitDaily.com

Breckenridge artist competes in Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series, vote for him to win

Out of thousands of submissions from across America and Canada, only one artist from Summit County is in the running to showcase their work at the SCOPE art show in Miami, Florida as part of the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series. The majority of the 28 artists that Breckenridge's Mauricio Meneses, 33, will go up against at Oct. 3's regionals at the Space Gallery hail from Denver. One is from Boulder, another from Colorado Springs and a third is from Louisville.

"It's very intimidating," he said. "You have so many good artists, but my painting is the only one with a very classical feeling. The others are really cool, but really modern."

In addition to the Miami trip, the grand prize for winning the ninth annual series includes $10,000 and a public art installation in New York.

"I don't think I'm going to make it to be honest," Meneses said. "But to make it that far, from living in the mountains, it's great." The second-place and people's choice prizes swap the New York show with an opening in an artist's home town. He doesn't have a specific venue in mind, but he would like a simple and inviting location, similar to The Crown coffee shop or the now-closed Art Supply Breckenridge where Meneses has had previous shows.

"I love Summit County but it doesn't feel like there's much opportunity for local artists," said Meneses. "We have the infrastructure and the gallery space, but I don't see much going on for people who live and work here."

Considering himself a "coffee shop artist," Meneses prefers working in casual environments because it allows him to strike up a conversation with passers-by as he soaks in the natural landscapes of the county. He keeps his pallet simple, utilizes the mantra of "less is more" and sets the tone with no more than a handful of colors.

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"When I make landscapes and pieces inspired by Summit County, I like to tell happy stories," he said. "I like people to be uplifted by what they see. When I design full collections I like to make people think and to connect the dots. 'Here's a story, but I'm not going to make it too easy for you. I want you take the time to analyze and get your own conclusions.' The message might be different for everybody."

However, Meneses doesn't aim to be political or provocative. Most of his works relate to nature, space, or the innocence of children.

"Why not turn it around and create something beautiful that people will enjoy?" He said. "You can still send a message, and a really strong one, but you don't have to be aggressive in the way you present your work."

Art doesn't run in the Guatemalan native's blood. His mother, who cleans local lodging establishments in Breckenridge, and his father, who works in maintenance at Keystone Mountain Resort, immigrated to the county roughly 15 years ago for a better life.

"They're very logical people and they're about numbers," said Meneses. "I was never good with mathematics. I studied to be a programmer and I suffered because programming involves a lot of logic. … That was never my strength."

Not formally educated aside from a handful of classes, Meneses started painting with oils and acrylics. Five years ago, looking for a challenge to become more serious about painting, he switched to watercolors and hasn't looked back. When not working at the Grand Lodge at Peak 8, he can be found teaching private painting lessons for tourists and locals alike. Additionally he has done some sculpting at the defunct Snowflake Challenge and helps kids at Breckenridge's Main Street Station Junior Snow Sculpture event.

Now the new home of the Meneses family is a major inspiration for his work, like "Spirit of Nature" that he submitted to the competition. Though the framed 16-by-20-inch work is larger than most of his portfolio, preferring to work on a postcard-size scale, Meneses is proud that is likely one of the more compact works representing Colorado's mountain region. He painted it during Keystone's B.L.A.M. festival and it took approximately 15 hours from start to finish.

With an expressive fox in the foreground surrounded by wildflowers, it captures the essence of nature in a high alpine environment. Around its neck is the globe, representing the natural world.

Meneses is familiar with painting foxes. He's done them in a more realistic style sitting next to a woman playing cello in the woods and he's made them appear more cartoonish as they ride a snowboard down a mountain.

"They're very smart animals," he said, "and I just like that nature contact that I get to experience on a weekly basis. They never get old."

He hopes the smaller size forces the judges and viewers to get right up to the painting and appreciate the finer details. "You can really tell the artist's soul and technique by taking a few extra seconds to get closer to a piece," he said.

"It's a watercolor but doesn't look like a watercolor. The colors are very strong and bold and there's a lot of layering. There's a misconception that watercolor has to be very weak and flowy. … You don't have to be subtle with watercolor."

Vote for Mauricio

In addition to awarding the top two artists, the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series recognizes whoever gets the most votes online with a people’s choice award. You can vote for Mauricio Meneses’ “Spirit of Nature” at BombaySapphire.com/US/EN/Artisan-Series.

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