Spotlight on Imaginationalist Topher Straus

Step into the imaginative realm of Topher Straus, where creativity defies the usual to bring each canvas to unexpected life.

Topher Straus
Photo by Matt Nager.

In a world where art often conforms, Topher Straus stands out as a bold innovator. A self-proclaimed “imaginationalist,” Straus embodies a philosophy of rule-breaking and creative exploration. His dramatic paintings don’t just depict natural and urban scenes; they draw the viewer into them. Employing a unique technique involving sublimation on oil-rich transfer paper, Straus vividly brings his work to life on recycled aluminum canvases. This process not only showcases the metal’s dynamic, infused colors but also adds a glossy finish, making each piece a reflective journey. The viewer becomes an integral part of the landscape, seeing themselves within the art. If you want to see for yourself, you’ll find Straus’s captivating works on display across galleries in almost all of the major ski towns. We spoke with the artist to delve deeper into his creative process and get a glimpse into the innovative spirit behind his work.

“Six years ago, I started sharing my art when my son encouraged me to open my heart. So much has happened since.”

“I like to immerse myself in the landscape I will be painting—first, by exploring it on foot. Once I have some painting done, I like to get inside my work using VR goggles. I can make adjustments based on how I feel. Maybe the mountains look too steep or not grand enough. It’s this dance between virtual and perceived reality that perfects my piece.”

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“The art drives the adventures; the adventures drive the art. I live a nonlinear life.”

“I was in Tel Aviv for the Jewish National Fund’s Global Conference 2023 on the day war broke out. Earlier in the year, I was in Maui when the wildfire started. But I do not think I am cursed. I feel blessed. Because I am okay. I was intended to experience those historic moments. To shine my light as bright as I can during dark times. Both tragedies were necessary for my journey.”

“I am doing far more than painting happy trees. I am painting history—the moments and emotions that make it meaningful.”

“The world is my palette.”

“Our national parks are our greatest resources. Their outstanding beauty inspires our poetry, art, and personal development.”

“We are all architects of our own lives. I’ve designed a life for myself with galleries in most major ski towns. I can snowboard in Vail in the morning then check in with the gallery in the afternoon. That’s what I call work/life balance.”

“Telluride is one of my biggest muses.”

“My purpose is to use what I love most—my art—to help organizations in the state I love most—Colorado—to raise money. I have raised over $100,000 for conservation, hunger, pancreatic cancer, art camps, and more.”

“My art is evolving every second. I am releasing a line of high-end jewelry and getting into sculpture. I also have a travel TV show coming out that is based around my artistic process.”