Margaret Rinkevich, artist and owner/principal of the Rinkevich Gallery in Mountain Village at her gallery in the Village Center. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Plantz)

What are those old adages? One posits that if you do a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. The other recommends the road less travelled.

Both come to mind in conversation with Margaret Rinkevich, artist and owner/principal of the Rinkevich Gallery in Mountain Village.

And while those maxims might be a little timeworn, Rinkevich’s work and story are anything but.

In the Arizona native’s case, they are also closely linked, with the less-travelled road leading to dream roles as working artist and gallery owner.

Rinkevich spent the earlier part of her career connecting others to art. She studied and taught art history; worked at art museums, where she often headed up docent training; and participated in art education programming like the Telluride Painting School.

“I think I was born an artist, I just denied it for a long time,” Rinkevich acknowledged. “I thought I needed to do something more scholastic with my life, hence, art history. About 25 years ago, I picked up a paint brush and never looked back.”

She continued, “Artists are told that in order to be successful there is particular route we have to take. You have to have an MFA (a master’s of fine art), have gallery representation, participate in juried shows, seek out prominent private and corporate collections, etc. I never functioned in these circles, yet my art was selling. After my work was rejected by a number of galleries, I decided to take the bull by the horns and move forward on my own terms.”

Despite this “less traditional” path, Rinkevich doesn’t sound like she has any regrets.

“Disenfranchisement pushed me in a new direction and I couldn’t be happier,” she said. “More importantly, it has made me a better artist. I push myself harder; it’s my gallery and I want the best of me represented.”

Rinkevich Gallery is indeed a compelling, but also welcoming and colorful space that occupies a serene and sunny corner of the Centrum Building (on the southwest side, facing the Peaks Resort).

The gallery exhibits contemporary art by Rinkevich, as well as tribal sculpture.

“I have been a collector of traditional, tribal African art for 20-plus years,” she said. “I have these historical pieces in the gallery. I love them, they show me what’s possible in art. Non-Western art has a very creative understanding of line, form and composition. It challenges my eye.”

Rinkevich added, “All the early modernist painters collected it as well, Picasso, Modigliani, Matisse. I love being part of that continuum. The gallery also has a bit of jewelry, when I have time, and fabulous silk and cashmere scarves created from the photography of Lisa Anderson — super, glorious images of the Telluride area.”

And Rinkevich’s genre?

“I consider myself an Abstract Expressionist painter,” she explained. “Robert Motherwell defined the genre best as a style whose character is derived from immediate, spontaneous decisions, rather than reliance on learned procedures. We value emotion, authenticity and risk.”

Most recently, the Town of Mountain Village selected Rinkevich, along with a handful of other local artists, to have one of her paintings reproduced on vinyl wraps for the dining pods made from refurbished, offline gondola cabins.

“They will be wrapped in art this winter,” Rinkevich said of the cabins, which dot the Village Center. “I’m thrilled to have one of my pieces alongside my fellow Telluride artists. The whole project will be unveiled in November.”

Alongside her large-scale paintings on canvas, Rinkevich is exploring working on paper.

“I have been working on paper more,” she said. “I generally work on canvas, but I am thrilled to offer smaller paintings on paper, mounted on panel. I’m planning on a large selection of these for the holidays. They make unique, thoughtful gifts and everyone has a small space that needs a little pop of color.”

Rinkevich’s enthusiasm for where she’s at now and what she has created in her gallery — and her professional life — is evident in every word.

So, she loves what she does?

“I skip to work every morning, and I’m a little bit sad when I leave at night,” she said.