It’s a phenomenal moment in life when you realize you have a talent. But it’s even more profound when you discover how that gift can help others. Colorado native Topher Straus uses his remarkable artistic skills to help raise money for organizations that are close to his heart. “It’s my dream to represent Golden and the mountain communities as a premier artist. What does success matter if you don’t have purpose? My purpose is to give back to my community,” Topher says.
Over the last four years, Topher Straus’s art has raised $75,000 for various charities and organizations in Colorado. From designing hats, which sold to feed over 200 families, to putting artwork on ornaments or bottles of wine to help fund local nonprofits, Topher Straus is proud of where he started, and continues to show the gratitude.
Born and raised in Genesee, Colorado, Topher Straus was just a normal, energetic boy who kicked about with his dynamic personality and gregarious ways. At the age of 12, he was approached by a talent agent who thought he’d be a perfect fit to host a new kids’ television show. Topher auditioned for the role and was a hit with the producers. Between the ages of 12 and 17, he hosted a seven-day-a-week kids’ show while attending school. He also performed in over 300 commercials during that time!
Raised by a single, hardworking mother who was very supportive, Topher learned independence early on. Once finished with high school, he was ready to explore life outside Colorado. Due to the many hours spent in front of the camera, he found the film industry intriguing and attended Syracuse University to major in film. He was required to take an art course as a prerequisite and almost failed out because he didn’t have any formal training. Yet, whatever he absorbed during that course, planted a tiny seed that traveled with Topher as he began his filmmaking career.
After graduating from Syracuse, the novice filmmaker moved to Los Angeles and spent over 20 years creating/directing commercials, films and video games from L.A. to New Zealand, during which time he married and welcomed a son into the world. All the while, that artistic seed from so long ago was germinating. He secretly painted grand canvas pieces that represented what weighed on his heart. He would remove them from the wall before guests visited because he “just wasn’t ready to show others.” One day, all of that changed due to a wise and insightful young man.
When Topher’s 5-year-old son looked him in the eyes and said, “Papa, it is time for you to show your artwork,” he felt it in his bones. The next day, he literally walked several of his oversized canvases into a Denver gallery that had dismissed his earlier phone queries. Initially, the owner was frustrated with Topher’s brazen antics, until he actually looked at the paintings. Due to the raw beauty and eccentricity of his artwork, he was offered a show to begin the following week. He soon left the film industry to become a full-time visual artist.
While Topher’s style of art has evolved, the uniqueness of his work continues. He considers his artwork to be the perfect combination of “photography, collage and experience.”
It begins with the inspiration he finds in the beauty of nature and the spiritual quality of open spaces. Topher’s goal is to give people the opportunity to feel that in his work, even if they haven’t been there in person. His digital medium, with the use of a stylus paintbrush, allows him to loosely “follow the rhythms of nature” through colorful, sweeping, abstract lines, reminiscent of the impressionists, with a sleek, modern touch.
Once the image is perfected on the computer, it is printed onto an oil-rich transfer paper. The paper is placed on top of a recycled aluminum sheet. Through the combination of high heat and pressure, the “painting” is permanently sublimated in the substrate. A poly-carbonite glossy finish is the final step, which Topher explains: “The glossiness allows for a reflection, so when you are looking at it, you’re able to see yourself in nature. And as the light changes throughout the course of the day, the piece changes. I believe that we need to be reminded of how much we are a part of nature, and nature is a part of us.”
Topher Straus’s artwork speaks for itself. He has developed a signature medium that is undeniably captivating and can be seen in many galleries across Colorado. Most recently the luxury hotel, The Hythe Vail, has requested his work to be indefinitely displayed throughout the hotel. Also, the Grand Tetons piece will be a permanent part of the Grand Teton visitor center art exhibition.
Topher credits his supportive mother, his son, and the mountain community for his success. The local artist continues to find ways to give back and shares with a sweet smile, “The best part about this wildly crazy artistic journey has been that my family has been here to witness it.”
To see more of Topher Straus’s artwork and to check out the many galleries he is showing in, visit: topherstraus.com