June 23--Artists have long drawn inspiration from the landscape.
When Manitou Springs artist David Gonzales set out to design a poster for Stage 5 of the USA Pro Challenge -- a seven-day professional cycling race that will play out Aug. 18-24 in the heart of the Rockies -- he already had the perfect backdrop in Breckenridge. For the action, he needed something that spoke in a different voice, a breathless one that would show, even in static form, the drama and action of cyclists at the end of a race.
"I needed something that said, 'This is final,' that gave the feeling of we are racing toward the finish line," Gonzales said.
Two of the artist's works, including that painting, "Destination," recently were chosen from among a pool of entries to represent the 104-mile stage, which takes riders from Woodland Park to Breckenridge.
Gonzales isn't the only local artist whose work will depict host cities in one of the world's more rigorous competitions. A design by 18-year-old Palmer High School graduate Justin Cox was chosen to represent Stage 4, a 70-mile circuit through Colorado Springs on Aug. 21. Each host city has produced an original poster to celebrate and promote its leg of the race; many did so through contests.
Gonzales based his designs on pictures taken by Christian Murdock. The Gazette photographer's "dynamic images" from previous years of the event captured the action and competitive spirit Gonzales then brought to life in acrylic.
"I used to do a lot of sports. When I would compete at a basketball game or in martial arts, there was that instinctual feeling of having to make decision on the fly," said Gonzales, a Santa Fe, N.M., native with a bachelor's degree in fine arts whose work is on display at the Tracy Miller Studio Gallery in Manitou Springs and Colorado Expressions in Colorado Springs. "I love that feeling and that's what I pour into my painting. It's not quite the same because you're at a standstill, but it's incorporating that same kind of sports energy."
Winning the Pro Challenge poster design contest for Colorado Springs isn't the first honor for Cox this year. In April, he took top honors in a national competition with his design for a mask for Colorado Avalanche goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The win earned him the chance to meet his sports hero in person. In May, Cox received Mayor Steve Bach's Spirit of the Springs Award.
For the teen, celebrating his city in art comes naturally.
"I love living in Colorado Springs, and it's a huge deal to be able to represent it in some way," said Cox, who submitted his design to the contest Facebook page in April. "For the (USA Pro Challenge) poster, they kind of wanted us to show off the city and what represents the city. As a backdrop, my poster featured Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak."
For the cycling aspects, Cox turned to his two older brothers, both avid riders.
"When I actually sketched out and did some designs, I sent them off to them to see what they thought and to see what changes they thought were beneficial," said Cox, who will seek a degree in graphic design at Colorado State University this fall.
The recent accolades are an encouraging sign for the aspiring professional artist.
"I've been really grateful to have won these two big design competitions and I think they're great inspiration and drive to keep going," Cox said. "It takes me from, 'Is this something I want to do in the future?' to 'Maybe this is actually something I can do and succeed at.'"
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