Loveland Museum features local artists in new exhibit

Through November 13, the Loveland Museum is hosting the exhibition “James Disney and Erik Stensland: Double Vision.”

This collection of paintings by Glen Haven native James Disney and photographs by local gallery owner Erik Stensland took several years to come to fruition, and sadly happened after Disney’s death in 2021, but presents the scenic beauty these two artists knew intimately in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Estes Park resident and business owner Erik Stensland speaks to a crowd at the Loveland Museum about his photography process. (Dawn Wilson/Estes Park Trail-Gazette)

On Thursday, October 20, Stensland gave a 45-minute presentation about his process of finding just the right photo spots, his approach to editing the images and the stories behind the photographs.

“Many places have a very limited window of time to get just the right scene,” said Stensland during his presentation as he pointed to an image with the Milky Way above a trail. “There is only a short period of time to get things lined up. If I was a painter, I would put the Milky Way where I want it, but I am a photographer. I need to plan it out.”

Stensland went on to clarify that the image, called “Chasm Trail Stars,” took him about ten years to capture.

Owner of the downtown Estes Park gallery Images of Rocky Mountain National Park, Stensland’s work features a wide array of photographs from the popular, easy-to-access locations, like Sprague Lake and Beaver Meadows, to the deep backcountry lakes and trails he enjoys exploring.

The Loveland Museum in downtown Loveland is hosting the James Disney and Erik Stensland Double Vision show through November 13, 2022. (Dawn Wilson/Estes Park Trail-Gazette)

“I do this because it is healing for me,” said Stensland. “Nature is healing, not just for me but for all of us. I also do it because I hope to share my photos to encourage others to appreciate our natural world.”

Stensland and his wife Joanna moved to Estes Park in 2004, where he could pursue his love of nature through photography.

Since then, he has written seven books, co-founded Nature First, a non-profit that empowers photographers to be ambassadors for the natural world, and has opened a second gallery in New Mexico to feature his images of the Desert Southwest.

Considering these accomplishments and the stunning imagery in his photographs, it is no wonder the Loveland Museum agreed to showcase the Double Vision exhibition.

Nature photographer Erik Stensland speaks to a crowd at the Loveland Museum about the pieces in the Double Vision exhibition. (Dawn Wilson/Estes Park Trail-Gazette)

As stated in the show’s brochure, “Jim [Disney] had long promoted Erik’s vision as a photographer, and, over the years, developed an exhibit idea that included the two of them. Kindred spirits in their knowledge of Rocky and the natural world, Jim could see the aesthetic potential of photography and painting side by side, the differences and similarities creating a more full appreciation of artistic creativity and nature’s wonder. This exhibit sees that idea come to fruition.”

The exhibit encompasses 22 of Stensland’s photographs and 16 of Disney’s pieces, ranging in dates from 1965 to 2019.

One of the presentation attendees asked Stensland, “If you had to pick, what is that one hike?”

“Lake Nanita,” said Stensland. “You can start at Grand Lake or Bear Lake. There is rarely anyone there. It is a gorgeous mountain lake with an island in the middle and a view of Andrews Peak. Best to get there for sunset.”

The exhibit runs through November 13, 2022, in the main gallery at the Loveland Museum located at 503 North Lincoln Avenue in downtown Loveland. The museum is also hosting two other exhibits – “James Disney: Legacy” and “Climbing Mountains: The Life and Work of James Disney” – featuring his work and historical items. Admission is $7 per person. For more information, visit lovelandmuseum.org.

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About Pep Dekekr

Pep loves Estes Park, he lives here with his family and hopes to bring people to Estes Park and Estes Park to the people. Along with his wife Paige, they own EstesPark.com.

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