Finding the artist in everybody

roy asmile

Barbara Lawlor, Gilpin County

Roy’s Last Shot owner Roy Stewart’s art is everywhere in his popular restaurant on the Peak to Peak Highway in mid Gilpin County. From the moment you enter the eclectic building, you are surrounded by one man’s personal art gallery. Paintings and wood carvings, drawings and sculptures and—oh yeah, shot glasses, thousands of them from all over the world—pick up the light and reflect it back into the room, a prism of memories.

Roy just can’t stop creating. His passion is such that he is also compelled to share art with his customers and last month he came up with an idea to find the artist in all those who have a desire to express themselves.

“This is gonna work out good,” says Roy as he rubs his hands together, excited with the project. “You’ll see. We’ll have everybody’s work hanging up there in that space I made for them. They will create the art and have a gallery waiting for them to sell it. Or they can take it home.”

Six students sat at a table, bent over the slices of wood with the scentl of burning pine in the atmosphere. For $50, a student got the woodburning tools, the paint, and personal attention and instruction from Roy himself. Every Saturday at 2:30, a new class begins and each student, once they have their kit, can have as many wood slices as they can fill up.

Darlene Hemke of Coal Creek Canyon says this was her second class. “I have been coming here for years and I saw the art on the walls and thought that was so neat. Not that I am artistic, but I thought it would be fun.” Darlene had the beginnings of a southwestern motif of a horizon broken up by cactus.

Doug Lupo, 53, says he’s been drawing for a long time and thought he’d bring some pictures to show Roy, to share his art. He specializes in album covers, but he says that doesn’t pay the bills. “Now that the kids are gone, I can get into art.”

three women

Another non-artistic artist, Lynell Aaron, said she gets a lot of joy out of working with the wood. “I took the drawing from working with a picture and then added my own color. Roy provides everything, including a shot glass to put the hot tips in. This is fun because you can’t make a mistake. Roy assured us that was true.”

Lynell’s work is good, real good, good enough to hang as is and put it up for sale.

Roy’s woodburning class will last through the winter and spring and up to summer. He said he’s thinking of getting out a huge slab of wood and having his students create a mural for the Carousel of Happiness in Nederland. “I think about a 12-foot piece that everybody can work on.”

Rossina Buggs of Sugarloaf said she came for lunch last week and was hooked. “I am not an artist. I got the design on the internet and will color it eventually. It’s fun. It’s a challenge, a certain degree of difficulty, but not so it’s frustrating. It gets comfortable real quick.”

Roy smiles at his students and looks forward to others arriving on Saturday afternoons and discovering that, in spite of all preconceptions of themselves, there is an artist in everyone.

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.