How the Art Happens - Inside Tony's

April 08, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Inside Tony's

Inside Tony's Conoco and Hardware Store.Inside Tony'sLooking through the front doors at Tony's Conoco and Hardware Store in downtown Crested Butte, Colorado. 1988

When I first moved to Crested Butte, Colorado, I lived in the middle of downtown above the bakery. I was at ground-zero for everything that happened in this little town. Parades, concerts, bar fights, you name it, I was on the front row. While this is a great way to get to know a community, at some point I decided I needed a little distance with some peace and quiet.

One of my favorite memories of living downtown was walking the two blocks to church on Sunday mornings. This walk took me right past Tony's iconic gas station and hardware store. One morning I decided to take my camera and snap this photo through the glass on the front door. Any other day, Tony would be sitting in the chair by the stove but on Sundays, he was probably headed to church too.

The character of this interior has been mostly kept intact by the building's current occupant, the Crested Butte Museum. The gas pumps are long-gone but looking through the front windows still evokes many of the same feelings as in 1988. The darker edges of the photograph force the viewer's eyes to the center of the frame. The old coal stove being dead-center in the frame commands attention as the main focal point. Sunlight streaming softly through the window illuminates the stove and provides shadows that bring out the textures of all the stuff on the walls. I can look at this image for hours and always find details I missed before.

I wish Tony had been in this photo but it works like this too. I remember trying to pump my own gas right after I moved to town. Tony didn't believe in self-service. I didn't repeat that mistake. He was still getting onto the roof to shovel snow into his 80's. My Dad came to Crested Butte in the late 1950s and when I moved here he asked about the "old man at the hardware store". It seems my Dad had his own memories from "Inside Tony's".


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Crested Butte, Colorado photographer, Dusty Demerson creates fine art photography displayed as prints and canvases and provides private photo tours in and around western Colorado.

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