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One of the greatest talents that a human can possess is the ability to make someone smile — and that’s what Nini Shroyer has done with her spectacular art that is displayed in almost every storefront throughout Craig.
Her kind demeanor and talent with the paintbrush has brought joy and happiness to the community and visitors for many a year, making her the Craig Daily Press’ Hometown Hero this week.
“People who have come into Craig have wandered up and down the town to look at her art,” said Liz Davis, who owns the Giving Tree retail store on Yampa Avenue in downtown Craig. “Nini has been around a long time, and I think she brings pleasure to people. I think that makes her one of these hometown heroes.”
Davis has a Norman Rockwell painting on her storefront window that Shroyer illustrated back when the Museum of Northwest Colorado had its Norman Rockwell exhibit. Almost every business on Yampa Avenue has a Norman Rockwell-like painting that Shroyer depicted to promote tourism and the museum.
“It makes the community a little more interesting,” Davis said.
Shroyer considered herself a shy child, and she would often go to her room and paint to tap into her expressive side. When she would ride with her parents in the car, passing rundown stores in various cities, she would try to envision ways to make the buildings look better with art.
“I just like places to look better,” she said. “I try to help the community by making them feel good about where they live and help their businesses.”
She uses leaded enamel paint when she’s sprucing up store windows, but her art doesn’t stop there. Shroyer also paints murals, homes and family portraits across northwest Colorado. Her art can be seen in Steamboat, Hayden and throughout Moffat County.
“I can paint anything,” she said with a smile.
She’s lived in Craig for almost 20 years, and she currently lives on a ranch just outside town where she used have cattle and horses. The last few years have been tough for her financially, forcing her to sell her livestock and pinch her pennies.
The term “starving artist” has become very real to her, especially during the recession when businesses across the board were suffering and trying to keep their doors open. She no longer gets paid what her art is worth and often finds that she barely makes enough to pay for the supplies she needs to create her intriguing paintings.
She recently painted the storefront at Northwestern Tack on Yampa Avenue, where several of her portraits hang for sale with the hopes that someone will purchase one.
Shroyer hopes that business will pick up so that she can continue to live on her ranch and enjoy the life in Moffat County.
A mother of three grown kids, her humble spirit still shines through despite tough times.
“I try to give people good feelings — make art so it’s something special,” she said.
Noelle Leavitt Riley can be reached at 970-875-1790 or email@example.com