We had the good fortune of connecting with Brian Raitman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brian, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
Today, I live in the beautiful mountain town of Breckenridge, Colorado. I moved here as soon as I realized how incredible my life could be if I were to surround myself with mountains, forests, streams and a river; or right after graduating from college in 2007. I was born in 1982 in the heart of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the age of 12, in 1995, my family and I moved to Portland, Oregon and I eventually moved back to Philadelphia to finish college at Temple University. I was raised in a home that celebrated art and music. One of my earliest memories is of myself throwing a hysterical tantrum in an art gallery. I desperately wanted a painting but it was already sold. I was seven years old. The tantrum, and the art, resonated with my parents and I deeply so a couple of weeks later we went back to the gallery. It was a little impressionist oil painting of a boy walking down a boat dock with his dog. Something about it took my breath away, even at such a young age. I loved the innocence of it. I was sucked in by the still beauty of the water and fell in love with the connection between the boy and his dog. I was really lucky on the day we went back. The artist, James Garfield Llewelyn, happened to be in the gallery. He told my parents that he would be happy to help end my tantrum-throwing and would paint a piece just for me. He asked me what I remembered about the painting and he went to work. A few weeks or a few months later we went back to see what he had created. His little oil painting is a treasured family heirloom to this day, 31 years later. The passion it sparked in me would eventually give birth to three fine art galleries located in Vail and Breckenridge, Colorado. My family’s move to Oregon came at a formative time in my life. I’d become a teenager a month after we landed in Portland. I was full of confusion, longing for the life and friends I’d left behind, weirded out by the hormonal stuff teenagers endure, and ultimately a little lost. I met the best friend I’ve ever had, Daniel Krow, not long after. He was wearing a green Pennywise t-shirt and I was just starting to really discover music. I figured he must be pretty cool if he knew of a band I hadn’t heard of yet. Sure enough, meeting Daniel would give me the fire I needed to figure myself out. Daniel and I dove headfirst into the Portland punk scene. We wrote our first song with an acoustic guitar, a notebook and an unplugged computer microphone. It was called “Yuppie Town.” A few years later, we had played dozens of concerts, released a few records and gained international acclaim within our underground music scene. We took part in an incredible culture built upon unity, a rejection of society’s abuse of the underprivileged, and a Do-It-Yourself mentality. Our music had a message and we were steadfast in our mission to spread it. We ran our band like a business, booking shows and networking incessantly. We opened our own record label, started our own distribution company and made time to volunteer for the causes we were passionate about. Through music, we found ourselves and so much more. We learned non-stop. We built a successful business. All while just being teenagers. Eventually, we would fade from the punk scene, becoming distracted by girls and whatnot. What would never fade, what became a common thread in my life, was the Do-It-Yourself ethics that I began learning at the age of twelve. I learned long ago to make life as you see fit. I realized that if you are passionate about something and if you push for it, you can make it happen. I realized that working for myself was the only way I could be happy in this life. I learned too that being good to this world is an even bigger key to happiness. I chose to open art galleries because art is something that always gives back to people. An art gallery is a connection between a group of incredible artists, a community of people who love art and a way to spread beauty and joy. Art is a way to connect a lot of people without leaving a big footprint. Every single day that we open our doors I am reminded of how beautiful this world can be. We work with our artist friends to bring a bit of light and color into people’s lives. We show unique styles and mediums in our gallery because being different is a good thing. We show a lot of landscape and wildlife art because the environment is our passion. Art is a way to honor, cherish and protect this planet and its inhabitants. Ultimately, we show art because it makes people smile.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Raitman Art Galleries opened in 2007. We believe art should be fun. Art should be uplifting. Art should be unique. Art shall tell our stories. Above all, the art we collect should make us smile. It was not easy to get where we are today. We opened with one 850 square foot gallery and now we have three galleries totaling nearly 8,000 square feet in space. We have made our collection evolve over the years, while never sacrificing our desire to work with the best artists in Colorado and our love for people and our planet. Our clients and our sales crew are like family to us. The relationships we have been blessed to forge over the years make what we do beyond rewarding. Installing artwork for people we have become friends with, made by people who we adore is amazing. Whether people are coming into our galleries for a brief respite from the outside world or to purchase a few pieces, we are grateful for the opportunity to share the art we love with them. Spreading joy is what we do.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Breckenridge, a magical place where activities change drastically based upon the season. We would ski all day in the winter. We would hike or raft all day in the summer. If it is nice out, we’d find a place to pitch a tent.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
This is for my best friend, Daniel Aaron Krow. Mentioned in this story, Daniel was the spark that pointed my life in its intended direction. I met Daniel when I was twelve. His passion and his concern for this world was contagious and remains so today. I lost Daniel in February of 2020, three days after his 37th birthday. Too troubled by the world and burdened with bouts of depression, Daniel chose to end life on his terms. Ever since, I have tried to do my best to live in his honor, to show empathy to those who may be ill or underprivileged and to make this world a brighter, happier place. Daniel would want people to know that you absolutely can achieve what you want. You just have to make it happen.