This article first appeared in the Steamboat Pilot. By Luke Graham.
Steamboat Springs — George Stranahan has lived a life set for the screen of Hollywood or the pen of Charles Dickens.
He founded Flying Dog Brewery, Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, the Aspen Center for Physics, Woody Creek Tavern and rubbed elbows with Hunter S. Thompson.
All along the way, he challenged authority, questioned the norm and embraced the unusual.
“He truly is a renaissance man,” said Alice Beauchamp, the director of Colorado Mountain College’s ArtShare.
Stranahan and his wife, Patti, also have a thirst for art. The two have spent their lives collecting spurred by an interest in art, philanthropy and education.
For the past 30 years, that has involved collecting an impressive group of black-and-white photos.
The Stranahans’ donated their collection to CMC to display on its area campuses.
The Steamboat campus will have a public opening from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday in the academic center.
The Stranahans’ collection includes 81 pieces from renowned photographers, including Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Andrè Kertèsz and Edward Weston.
Friday’s opening will feature about 30 photos from the collection, all taken from 1926 to 1997.
“I know these photos are amazing to look at,” Beauchamp, who had the tough task of picking the photos for the show. “Finding out about them has been amazing. You learn about black-and-white photography, and it’s really amazing. You appreciate it more. You understand what went into a great photo.”
The Stranahans’ donated the collection to CMC in 2008, and it has been at campuses in Glenwood, Rifle, Aspen and Leadville as well as the Aspen Institute.
It will be on display at the Steamboat campus through Aug. 28.
The photos are breathtaking, and Beauchamp said each one tells a story with the whole exhibit serving as a history of photos in black and white.
“It’s a virtual timeline of black-and-white photos from 1926 on,” she said. “What George gave us was an amazing collection.”
The collection is the first traveling exhibit ArtShare has had. Beauchamp said when they finish traveling to all the CMC campuses, the hope is to get the show to other college campuses.
“You don’t have to know about photos to love this stuff,” she said. “Every good thing art needs is in these photos.”
For a look at several of the photos, click here.
To reach Luke Graham