If you go

What: Evan Cantor Exhibition reception

When: 5-8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, exhibition runs through February

Where: pARTiculars Art Gallery and Teaching Studio, 401 S Public Rd., Suite 1, Lafayette

Cost: Free

More info: The artist will also be performing live jazz and soul tunes;720-890-7888 or particularsart.com

For local musician and oil painter Evan Cantor, a 2016 trip to the desert-dwelling Ghost Ranch set him on a path of unwavering creativity.

The former New Mexican home of iconic artist Georgia O'Keeffe is now a 21,000-acre retreat center — a haven for those looking to put paint to canvas and capture the beauty of the natural world. For Cantor, inspiration seeps from the mountainous terrain of the West. In his work, tree-spotted valleys, babbling brooks, multi-layered cliff walls, red rock mesas and snow-covered pines form from his heavy brushstrokes and saturated shades.

On Feb. 8, Cantor will celebrate his latest collection, a 12-piece exhibit, at a reception at Lafayette's pARTiculars Art Gallery and Teaching Studio — a cooperative space that gives a platform to various creatives throughout town.


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"By double checking my coffee table books afterwards, I worked it out that I had walked the same mesa path upon which Georgia was once photographed and that we painted from the same locations where she painted famous Road to Abiquiú and Chama River Canyon scenes," said Cantor, recalling the pivotal trip to the home of one of his greatest idols. "It was like looking into one of Georgia's paintings and knowing you were there. As Ms.

Boulder musician and artist Evan Cantor paints at Boulder’s Wild Bear Nature Center in September.
Boulder musician and artist Evan Cantor paints at Boulder's Wild Bear Nature Center in September. (Courtesy photo)
O'Keeffe has always been an influence, it was truly humbling to walk in her footsteps, not figuratively or virtually, but literally."

When not trying to capture the various muses of nature, Cantor can be found lending his vocals, impassioned harmonica playing and acoustic guitar strumming to local band the CBDs. The group that boasts itself as delivering "Medicinal Music that's good for what ails ya," has kept up a steady stream of gigs from Longmont to Nederland. Serving up an array of tunes by the Grateful Dead, Ryan Adams, Joe Cocker, David Bowie and Van Morrison, the quintet continues to please crowds.

"Bowknot Boulder," by Evan Cantor.
"Bowknot Boulder," by Evan Cantor. (Courtesy photo)

"Art was my first passion — I didn't take up music in a big way until I was a teenager, trading piano lessons for the bass guitar and rock 'n' roll," said Cantor. "I've always jumped back and forth between art and music. I could never decide which was most compelling, and in the long run, I think I need both."

Fusing two mediums

At the reception, Cantor will get to fuse the two mediums he loves the most.

"We are very excited about this reception because visitors to the gallery will also be treated to Evan's musical talent as he and his lovely wife will do a few sets of romantic jazz music for everyone," said Suzanne Connolly-Howes, one of the six artist-owners of pARTiculars. "It is rare to be able to enjoy the talents of such a multi-talented artist in this kind of setting."

"Georgia’s Footsteps," by Evan Cantor.
"Georgia's Footsteps," by Evan Cantor. (Courtesy photo)

An avid outdoorsman, Cantor often hikes to the places that will later become the subjects of his paintings. In the '90s, he dabbled in black-and-white scratch work drawings that gained popularity within the conservation community — appearing in numerous books and on covers of the environmentalist publication "Wild Earth" magazine.

"Evan Cantor's artwork is exceptional on multiple levels," said Jeanne Hougen, another artist and owner at pARTiculars. "First of all, as an impressionist, Cantor has succeeded in capturing the impression of a specific scene. His Colorado and western landscapes engage the viewer in a way that not only triggers a recognition of the place it is depicting, but that also triggers the feelings associated with being in a certain place at a certain time. He captures the essence of a scene that goes beyond the mind of the viewer, touching the viewer at an emotional level, at the level of the soul."

At the Feb. 8 event, attendees can also take in the intricate work by silversmiths Karen Edgerly and Barb Amador, whose necklaces and statement-making bracelets incorporate glossy glass and natural gemstones.

"We are proud to always offer a diverse array of mediums by local artists at the gallery," said Connolly-Howes. "We think it is part of what makes pARTiculars a place where people regularly visit, always looking to see what new art is on display, from 2D art, extraordinary jewelry, functional ceramic art to handmade leather journals, pARTiculars has become a place where the community knows they can come to find unique and marvelous art and art classes."

Making the act of creating accessible to all, at pARTiculars pretentiousness is cast aside and inclusivity reigns supreme. From children pouring over pieces to inlay within mosaics to established artists honing their skills, one never knows just what may surface in this space that has been serving the community for more than a decade.

"In many ways, an artist is always learning, so I feel like I'm developing as I go along," said Cantor. "I have ideas for different kinds of compositions to pursue in the future. Those ideas may take me closer to the kinds of work Ms. O'Keeffe and Lawren Harris pursued, abstracting the landscape further and focusing in on such small parts of it that it becomes abstract. Ultimately, nature is the grandest artist of all and all we mere mortals can hope to do is depict some part of what she has already accomplished."

Kalene McCort: 303-473-1107, kmccort@dailycamera.com