Hey, Spike! serves up a social smorgasbord | SummitDaily.com

Hey, Spike! serves up a social smorgasbord

Miles Porter IV
Hey Spike!

For Lauri Hamill, making frequent appearances in the Kingdom of Breckenridge's Mountain Art Festivals means returning home.

Lauri and artist husband Blair Hamill are here this weekend as part of the 43rd Annual Gathering of the Great Divide show produced by Mountain Art Festivals.

As a youngster, Lauri spent part of her childhood here back in the early '60s when her parents, Beverlee and Don Henry, owned Liar's Den Sports Shop on Main Street, in the old mortuary a few doors from the still-there Gold Pan Saloon.

The Henry family cabin was the last school bus stop heading up Hoosier Pass and school was in Frisco since there were not enough kids enrolled in Breckenridge to open the school, Lauri remembers.

Lauri recalls her parents playing guitar and singing along to folk songs with other locals at the old Breckenridge Inn; wading in the Blue; her family hosting Tom Stenerson, a Norwegian Junior Olympic skier; and skiing Ego Lane as a small child.

While much has changed in Breck, the crisp mountain air and the beauty of the natural surroundings are what keep Lauri and her family coming back to the area.

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Married for 34 years, Blair and Lauri live in Littleton and are avid hikers. When not working art shows together — over 30 this year — they can be found wandering trails high in the Rockies.

Other members of the Hamill Rocky Mountain Posters team include son Taylor and wife Amy, along with daughter Lindsay and husband Brian.

"Rocky Mountain Posters calls attention to our public lands and unique vistas, their conservation and the spiritual connection we have with those places," says Blair.

That connection with the out-of-doors compels Blair Hamill to craft his posters.

Blair spent decades criss-crossing the Rocky Mountain West.

When researching and designing new posters, he takes to the field and captures vistas that evoke a feeling of awe. When a particular place is located, he records information through observations, painted studies, sketches, photographs and notes. He then takes those observations back to the studio.

"My love for the land began by camping in the Rockies in as a child, backpacking in the wilderness, exploring national parks, snowshoeing and skiing," he says.

The trails he now leads people on are through his posters and paintings. His art sparks senses of place, story and memory for travelers on their own personal journeys through the Rocky Mountain West.

Blair grew up in Arvada, spending summers camping in the late '60s — with six additional family members — in a converted 1967 Ford Econoline van.

In the early '70s he climbed his first 14er (Mount of the Holy Cross), worked on a trail crew in the Colorado Rockies and was "known as the guy always drawing pictures of nature."

A college stint studying graphic design and designing his first of many posters at Colorado State University led him to work at advertising agencies, design firms and later becoming graphics director at The Denver Post and its sister Colorado newspapers for 23 years.

Taking a buyout from The Denver Post parent company six years ago, Blair began selling landscape oil paintings of 14ers and other regional images on the art show circuit.

Finding younger audiences scarce at many art shows, Blair asked his son and son-in-law to be millennial sounding boards for creating new, more affordable art to attract younger buyers.

Blair had launched a sticker site eight years ago selling stickers of all Colorado's 14ers. Blair combined his sticker art concept, and oil paintings of 14ers, into posters featuring all of Colorado's 14ers.

After seeing Blair's 14er posters at a Denver show, the director for Red Rocks asked Blair for posters featuring the iconic concert destination. Now his top-selling posters are for sale at Red Rocks, at art shows and online.

Blair's poster art offerings have steadily grown with poster design requests from Yellowstone National Park, ski towns, Rocky Mountain National Park and Colorado State University. He is currently working on a Downtown Denver poster series for a developer of historic sites in the city.

His work is currently on display at Denver International Airport as part of the Bike and Climb Colorado event. He continually creates new poster designs and posts at them at RockyMountainPosters.com.

"Caring for our public lands in the Rocky Mountain West requires the work of dedicated individuals and non-profit organizations," says Blair. "Because of this, Rocky Mountain Posters gives a portion of its earnings to the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI), the non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of our Rocky Mountain Region's highest peaks."

Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed "Spike," a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former hardrock miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to milesfporteriv@aol.com