Former Marine Tylor Belshe Navigates the Art of War

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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.

Tylor Belshe is a near-native: He came to Colorado during his sophomore year of high school, and has always considered the Rocky Mountains home. After eight years in the Marines -- with a particularly rough tour through Fullujah, Iraq -- Belshe "wanted a positive, non-intrusive way to express emotion," he says. He found that in art, and has recently begun exploring it on a professional level.

See also: Curtis Bean on the Art of War -- and what it means to veterans

"I'm not awesome at one thing, but am pretty good at a lot of things," Belshe explains, which is why his art features so many mediums. But his comment also applies more broadly to Belshe's life -- one comprising an interesting array of happenstance experiences.

For instance, Belshe was getting ready to head to Arizona State University to pursue a degree in business when a buddy who had recently joined the Marines told him about boot camp. The friend said Belshe would never make it through basic training -- and that was a challenge Belshe couldn't pass up.

"I walked into the recruiter's office the next day," Belshe recalls. He decided to join, and was initially interested in combat photography, though there weren't any spots open the year Belshe enlisted. Two weeks later, Belshe was in boot camp, and he would spend the next eight years serving his country.

Belshe's civilian job as a private client investment associate was every bit as fortuitous. "I had just gotten back from my last deployment, had just gotten out, and was taking a couple of months off to decompress," says Belshe. "I was out running one day, and decided I needed to get a job because that's what people do." The artist happened to be running by a bank. He decided to pop it to see if they were hiring. Belshe was offered a job on the spot, and worked his way up to his current rank. "Everything was completely by chance. Or not! I don't know," he says, laughing.

Belshe enjoys his day job, but his true passion is art. So he enrolled at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, where he is currently getting a degree in commercial photography. "I did some personal photojournalism while I was in the Marine Corps," Belshe says. "I've always liked being able to capture moments in time."

Continue reading for more of Belshe's mixed-media work, and a glimpse at his Colorado series. Belshe's is inspired by the range of human emotion, but his process is straightforward. "When I'm in my studio, I never know what I'm going to do. I put on some music, and let it talk," he explains.

"Sometimes my art is a little darker," Belshe continues, pointing to his "My War" series currently on display at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1 gallery at 841 Santa Fe, where Belshe and Art of War Project founder Curtis Bean show their stuff and help other veterans cope by offering free art therapy and yoga classes.

"I'm fairly new," Belshe says. His debut show was on July 4 at the VFW Post 1 gallery. Belshe heard about what Bean was doing with the Art of War Project from a local news outlet, and wanted to get involved. "I had a lot of friends who saw how my art was helping me, and I wanted to share that," says Belshe.

He found Bean on Facebook, met him at Punch Bowl Social for breakfast and asked how he could help. Belshe has been involved with the project ever since. Right now, Bean and Belshe are searching for more artists to lead art classes for veterans, which take place on the third Friday of the month at 841 Santa Fe.

"The other side of my work," Belshe continues, "is that I love Colorado." His "Colorado State of Mind" series pays homage to our great state. In September, Belshe showed his work at Kokopelli Beer Company. For more information on the Art of War Project, visit the organization's website.

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