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Local artist Kathleen Schlabach brings some young blood—and a fresh perspective—to the Steamboat art scene.

Kathleen Schlabach is out of range, hiking the Zirkel Circle backcountry just outside of Steamboat. Even though she works at the Smokehouse, waiting tables and tending bar, hiking around the wilderness is just another day at the office for the young artist, whose colorful, whimsical landscapes are inspired by the natural beauty surrounding Steamboat.

At 27, Schlabach is one of several young artists who have banded together to form the Young Bloods Collective [www.youngbloodscollectiv.org], a non-profit whose mission is to make arts and cultural endeavors in Steamboat more accessible to young artists by building and growing their creative community. Breaking into the art scene as a young up-and-comer is easier said than done, says Schlabach, who still counts her artwork as a “hobby” even though she is selling her work and getting commissioned to produce original pieces.

We caught up with Kathleen to talk about what it’s like to break into the Steamboat art scene.

Where are you from originally?

I’m from Wisconsin and moved to Steamboat three years ago. I ended up here because I worked in Glacier National Park in the summer and lot of people I knew would come to Steamboat in winter. I showed up in Steamboat to try it out for the winter, and never left.

How did you become an artist?

My mom is very creative. I have seven siblings and she constantly had us doing art classes or arts and crafts at home. I must have gotten my artistic ability in the gene pool, because as early as kindergarten people were talking about my artwork. I never went to college for art, it’s just something I’ve always done.

What is your medium?

My medium has been changing over the years but it always circles around to chalk pastels, ink and predominantly water color, but it’s all mixed medium. I do a lot of landscapes, but with a modern twist. I use a lot of vibrant color, more than you might find in classic impressionism. It’s a little more whimsical.

What’s it like to be a young artist in Steamboat?

It’s interesting doing art in this community. I’m so happy I got into the Young Blood Collective. It’s so great to find a group of young people to push each other and help each one another to get themselves out there. I’m grateful to be part of their events because it’s not as easy to be recognized and get in on the scene when you’re starting out.

What’s your inspiration?

Taking a normal everyday scene that we are lucky enough to see, like Rabbit ears or Hahn’s peak and making it even more majestic or whimsical or dreamlike. I see color in many things that I feel others don’t normally see.

To contact Kathleen Schlabach or learn more about her work, email her at keschlabach@gmail.com.