Colorado native Kyle Banister on chalk, baseball and art in a beauty shop
You can find art all over town -- not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.
Retirement isn't looking so quiet for baseball-loving Kyle Bannister, the second-career artist who decided to document his childhood dreams with his signature style, depicting baseball scenes in everything from pointillism to chalk art, displayed everywhere from live TV to an Englewood salon.
Kyle Banister was interested in art from a young age, but people were always telling him he couldn't make any money doing it. So after blissfully spending his boyhood years playing baseball and admiring muscle cars, Banister chose a mainstream career -- several, actually.
"I grew up wanting to design cars," Banister says. "And I probably would have if I'd been in Detroit." But instead, Banister came of age in Colorado, where his career took a number of trajectories -- everything from a short stint in the army to managing a Subaru dealership and then opening a sign company, which evolved into a twenty-year endeavor. About a decade ago, the jack-of-all-trades suddenly found he "didn't have any more responsibilities," Banister recalls. That's when he returned to art.
Maybe you've seen Banister's graphite drawing of Todd Helton (above), which was originally created for a live recording aired during the Rockies game as the artist slowly filled in his baseball scorecard during the game. "This is my big claim to fame," he says. "By the seventh inning, you could tell it was Todd Helton." The Root Sports broadcast in which Banister participated, a compilation of broadcasters and fans keeping score that was called "Scoring the Game," won an Emmy and went viral after the Major League Baseball Network picked it up.
Now Banister freelances for Root Sports, occasionally doing commissioned pieces like this stop sign decorated with Huston Street's mug, which was displayed above Coors Field until Street left the Rockies. "I have a whole bunch of art work in my garage of Rockies who aren't Rockies anymore," says Banister.
One of the first pieces Banister ever did, in fact, was this pencil and ink rendering of Rich "Goose" Gossage, who grew up in Colorado Springs, played for several teams and now sits in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Done in 2005, the pointillism drawing displays painstaking technique with a remarkable outcome.
Baseball is more of an obsession that an interest, Banister admits. He's coached it over the years, starting with his son's little league team and worked for Rawlings from 2004 to 2007. Which explains why Banister's plunge into the impermanent world of chalk art began with a baseball-inspired piece at the 2009 Denver Chalk Art Festival.
"I liked it, and it wasn't as hard on my body as I thought it would be," says Banister, who decided to keep up with chalk art. Now he's on the Chalk Artist Committee and will appear at about twenty different chalk events this year -- most in Colorado, but Banister did travel to St. George, Utah for a show in 2013.
"This art is liberated," Banister explains. "Nobody judges you, you just do it for the love of art and to interact with people -- then they come by and wash it away." And he says he's fine with that, even when the projects take days to complete.
One of Banister's most heartfelt and meaningful chalk drawings was a sketch he calls "No Greater Love," made for his youngest daughter, active in the Air Force Reserves, right before she deployed to Afghanistan. "That was my tribute to her and a way of saying goodbye for now," he explains. The piece appeared outside of Arapahoe Community College, and Banister's daughter has since returned home from duty.
This summer, Banister will be involved in a "one- or two-day" project at the overgrown, vintage baseball field in Georgetown that's meant to educate folks on the history of the sport. "There's a baseball field that was used from 1873 until the Depression," Banister says. "But everybody left town, and people were digging gopher holes looking for silver to get a loaf of bread, and then aspen trees took over." But beyond those aspens, viewers can still see "where they piled up stones to make an outfield wall," he says. Banister will hang some of his photo-editing art from trees for a show that will also include walking tours and information on classic baseball.
Banister started shooting photos in the '80s and was a track photographer at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison. But "film got expensive," he says, so he "backed off." A couple of years ago, Banister got a digital camera, which renewed his interest in the hobby. He's even gotten some good stuff with his iPhone, like the watery photography above, called "Sometime It Rains", which showed at NRC Gallery -- set to close its doors at the end of the month. "I never thought of doing photography with a phone," Banister admits. "But one day I was driving by Coors Field, and it was hailing and raining and dumping, so I parked by Blake Street and took this one from inside my truck."
For those who dig sculpture, Banister's got hand-carved guitars like the cattle head one he calls "Baby Bull" (a baseball reference, go figure). And starting January 26, he'll have a snowboard on display at the annual Art of Winter in Larimer Square held in conjunction ith the Ski Industry Association Show. Right now, the board's still a work in progress.
In the meantime, you can find Banister's art at Cutt'n it Loose, the Englewood salon where he's been showing for about a year. The current display, which Banister curated (he says he hates the word "curate" because it "sounds glorified"), was called Babes in Toyland. Banister's next show, opening Thursday, January 23, is called Colder Than a... For more of Banister's work, visit his Baseball Facebook page or his Chalk Art Facebook page.
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