We are delighted to announce our 2022 poster artist: Nicholas Reti! Our new poster features his incredible painting, portraying stunning views of Mineral Point and Augusta Mountain from the wildflower-covered flanks of Mt. Baldy. Nick’s paintings and use of color convey his joy of life and the landscape – he has been showing his work in Crested Butte since 2007 at Oh Be Joyful Gallery, which he now owns. We are honored he created this painting especially for the Wildflower Festival and thrilled it will serve as the kick-off for our 2022 Festival season. Read more about him in a recent interview we did with him!
Tell me about your Crested Butte connection? What brought you here? Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Denver and knew about Crested Butte’s reputation as a great ski town and mountain. I came here for the first time in 2007 when a photographer friend of mine recommended I take part in the Arts Festival. He thought my work would be well received. It was! I sold 30+ paintings that weekend, more than I would sell in a year in Denver. I was even selling paintings out of my trailer the next day, after the Arts Festival ended. It was incredible. The town was incredible and I will never forget the first time I saw Mt. Crested Butte driving into town, it was so powerful. I knew I wanted to come back and painted all year to get ready for the 2008 Arts Festival. After seeing my work at the Festival, Oh Be Joyful Gallery invited me to begin showing there. My paintings also sold well in the gallery, so I began commuting to Crested Butte twice a month. In 2010 I moved to Crested Butte to paint full time. I had the opportunity to assume ownership of Oh Be Joyful Gallery in 2015 and love operating and curating it in addition to painting. It’s fun to predict people’s interest and where the trends in art are going.
Tell me about your experience becoming an “artist”? Any cool experiences to share with other, perhaps “budding” artists?
I’ve always been a painter. I have photos of myself at the age of four standing in front of an easel. Whatever painting was doing for me at four it is still doing for me at forty. I don’t have a choice – I’ve always worked through my emotions at an easel. I never considered any other profession outside the arts and attended Minneapolis College of Art Design on scholarship, studying in Paris and Florence during my junior year. I practiced photography in addition to my painting and taught photography at the Denver School of Photography to fund my painting, until eventually painting began out earning photography in 2010.
I’d tell emerging artists that being an individual and having your own voice is more important now than ever before. Social media is creating homogenization – people are imitating those that are successful with hopes of becoming successful. We need original voices to rise above it. Identify with an artist you admire while keeping your individuality. Make a plan to obtain the skills you need. Then dedicate yourself, don’t give up on it.
Your image for our 2022 poster is so interesting, tell us about what inspired you?
I’ve been painting the Wildflower Festival poster for 12 years! I’ve always thought about what my poster would look like so it was fun to actually do it. I went back through 12 years of wildflower photos in our high-altitude gardens and this one just summed up the experience for me. I could feel myself right back there. When you are in the landscape the rest of the world disappears and you are immersed in this world of gardens and flowers. It is an incredible experience. I hope people can get a sense of that feeling from my poster.
Tell me about your family, your passions, your job/work, hobbies?
I am addicted to travel! I love to travel and do so several times every year. It is a great way to forget what I know and recharge. I am fortunate my family owns a large piece of property on Molokai of the Hawaiian Islands. I go there twice a year. Before covid I traveled to Antarctica, South America, and Canada. I am always looking for places in the landscape that evoke the grandest sense of peace or wonder.
I also want to explore all the areas around this valley that I haven’t yet. I’d love to do some larger hikes in the Gunnison Valley and would love to hike from Blue Mesa to Crested Butte.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I am incredibly passionate about the history of art in Gunnison County and am working on creating a project with the hopes it will become an art museum in the future. Gunnison County has a rich art history, beginning with the Ute Indians to the opening of the ski area, 1863 – 1962. I want to show how Crested Butte and Gunnison fit into the larger narrative of the settling of the west. Over 150 artists have come through and captured images of our mountains and landscapes. They include Ute hunting maps on rock faces, railroad surveys from the 1850s, and post-Civil War topographical surveys. Did you know there were four art galleries in Gunnison during the 1880s, when Crested Butte and Irwin were founded? Or that Western Colorado University had a huge impact on the arts of the southwest? I’ve collected hundreds of artifacts and stories with the goal of beginning an art history museum that tells this story. I have one very special painting for sale, priced at one million dollars, to get this museum off the ground. I want to preserve our artistic heritage. The better we can tell the past the better we can represent today.
Wildflower Festival posters may be purchased at Rijks Gallery, The CB Museum, CB Chamber of Commerce/Visitor’s Center, and Gunnison Gallery.
Nick is hosting a Garden & Studio Tour on Monday, 7/11, where he will display some of his most recent wildflower paintings and be available for conversation and poster signing. He will also be attending our Member Appreciation Party on Tuesday, 7/12.
Visit the Oh Be Joyful Gallery. at 409 Third Street in Crested Butte during Wildflower Festival week (July 8-17) and view a special exhibition of wildflower themed artwork along with an immersive sculpture of live flowers installed by Bramble & Bloom.