Portfolio Gallery in Breckenridge features Salida artist’s backcountry paintings | SummitDaily.com

Portfolio Gallery in Breckenridge features Salida artist’s backcountry paintings

Leslie Jorgensen often starts her paintings with blocks of color before adding in details to her work, like "Comin' in Hot." Her show "Snow Dance" will be at Portfolio Gallery in Breckenridge through March 13.
Photo from Leslie Jorgensen

Portfolio Gallery co-owners Carol and Alan Kelly found out about artist Leslie Jorgensen through a stroke of serendipity.

A year or two ago, they decided to make the two-hour trek to Salida after hearing about the Salida Second Saturday Gallery Tour, but the event had been canceled.

“We got to Salida, and it was totally deserted,” Carol Kelly said. “There was only one gallery open.”

That gallery happened to have one of Jorgensen’s paintings on display, and her style immediately attracted the Kellys’ attention. The gallery owner was able to put them in touch with her, and Jorgensen was one of the first artists to have a kiosk at Portfolio Gallery when it opened in August 2019.

Now, Jorgensen is being featured with her own show at the gallery. Titled “Snow Dance,” it consists of a collection of paintings that she made specifically for the show.

The show’s title reflects a few things for Jorgensen: The joy of being in the mountains, the movement of drifting powder and the dance many outdoor enthusiasts do as they try to entice snow to fall in the High Country.

“It’s talking about our relationship to the mountains and the play we do there,” she said, adding that the show consists of “colorful contemporary pieces, mainly around backcountry skiing and the joy of being in the mountains.”

"Lunch," a painting by Leslie Jorgensen, will on display at Portfolio Gallery in Breckenridge through March 13 as part of Jorgensen’s show, "Snow Dance."
Photo from Leslie Jorgensen

Jorgensen grew up in Florida and came to Colorado as a young adult, when she quickly grew enamored with spending time outdoors. She worked as a designer and graphic artist in Denver for several years before she felt drawn back into painting.

She worked as an artist in Denver before moving to Salida in 2018. Shortly after arriving in Salida, she was able to find a studio and gallery space downtown.

“In Denver, a studio space isn’t a gallery space,” Jorgensen said. “Here, I am so fortunate to have this studio gallery where I can come and paint every day.”

Beyond the literal interpretation of the show’s title, Jorgensen’s work also features another kind of dance, which she describes as “a dance between figurative and abstract art.”

Jorgensen focused on more realistic paintings early on, but she started studying abstract expressionism as a way to “incorporate more life” into her paintings.

“As much as I admired abstract art, I just didn’t have it in me,” she said.

"Air," a painting by Leslie Jorgensen, is on display at Portfolio Gallery in Breckenridge through March 13 as a part of her show titled "Snow Dance."
Photo from Leslie Jorgensen

Still, from those attempts at creating abstract art, she was able to find a new way to breath some life into her works. Many of her paintings blend aspects of abstract art into backcountry scenes, which sets her apart from the other artists at Portfolio Gallery, Carol Kelly said.

“One of the things that’s fascinating is watching our artists at work,” Kelly said. “One watercolor artist starts on the top and goes down, and we have an animal artist that starts with the eyes. Leslie starts with covering the canvas in color first and then adds details. … She builds and builds with colors and adds such depth and detail.”

Jorgensen said her goal is to find a balance between abstraction and realism.

“It’s one thing to create a mountain on canvas or a board, but it’s another thing to make it look like a painting,” she said.

"Hard Sun" is a diptych (two paintings meant to be paired together) that is featured in Leslie Jorgensen’s solo show, which is on display at Portfolio Gallery in Breckenridge through March 13.
Photo from Leslie Jorgensen

Kelly said Jorgensen’s unique approach and passion for the outdoors makes her a good fit for the gallery, which tries to offer affordable, accessible art to their clients, including visitors who want to take a visual piece of their stay back home with them.

“That enthusiasm for the outdoors just brims over the canvas,” Kelly said.

Jorgensen said that enthusiasm has been reciprocated by the gallery’s visitors.

“Breckenridge has been a good market for me, certainly with my backcountry paintings,” she said. ”There are a lot of people there who get it, who want to get out and climb the mountain and ski it.”

If you go

What: “Snow Dance,” new works by Leslie Jorgensen

When: 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Where: Portfolio Gallery, 226 S. Main St., Breckenridge

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