Photography by Kayte Demont
It’s rare that you get to witness an artist experiencing others enjoying their work, but that’s exactly what I got to do this past Saturday with Collin Parson. We met up under his “HERE” piece that’s located in the ceiling under the bridge in the pedestrian alleyway way of Dairy Block. Denver, Colorado has been bursting with new artistic ventures lately so it makes sense that talented artists like Collin are gaining momentum in more public spaces. Collin is not only an artist in his own right but is also Director of Galleries and Curator for the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities in Arvada, Colorado. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater Design and Technology with emphasis in Scene Design and Lighting from the University of Colorado at Boulder and received his Master in Arts in Visual Culture and Arts Administration from Regis University in Denver.
Growing up in Colorado, Collin has been exposed to all of the changes and growth that the city has seen over the past decade. His father is also an artist, so the artistic energy of the city is in his DNA. As we sat under his piece, marveling the size, Collin told me the story of all that had been put into it before it was installed and where his inspiration came from. While we discussed the reflective qualities and the neon light-play, several passersby stopped to take photos of his work for social media: “This is just so cool!” Collin exclaimed to me as we stared at a teen couple snapping a photo for their Instagram, “Seriously, this is exactly what I’d envisioned would happen with this piece.” Viewing art with the artist is something that most people don’t experience very often. It was amazing to talk about his upbringing in a creative family, how that affects his parenting style with his son (who I had the pleasure of meeting, along with his wife Jocelyn), and the path that he took to achieve the level of success that he has now. I could feel the excitement and true joy that he radiates when he discusses his passion. You can tell that he takes equal pride in both his work as a creator and his role serving the community at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. It was a refreshing moment, one that made me realize how lucky I am to also be doing what I love and meeting rad, humble people like Collin.
Based on our conversation, I drafted up some questions that I felt would give us all a better insight into Collin, his creative process, and how he views the world around him. In his own words:
1) What is your earliest memory of creating something? Tell us the story behind it!
I grew up in my Dad’s studio on 33rd and Pecos. So I was always watching and helping him with whatever crazy project he had brewing at the time. A story my parents tell me was in First grade I came home sad because the art project I was looking forward to, had us just using crayons. All the while my backpack was full of hammers, tools and crazy materials to make ART!
2) How has being a Colorado native shaped your work? Do you think that Denver has a specific energy? If so, what has that energy done for the art scene/community?
Born in Denver and raised by artistic parents (a father who is a sculptor and a mother who is a modern dancer) guided me and my creative path. Being surrounded by their friends many who also we’re artists allowed me a greater understanding of who’s done what, why, when, etc. Colorado is great! It’s my home and home of many talented creatives. It’s a larger city that has materials and fabricators that allow a full range and scale of work. Colorado definitely has creative energy and a vibrant diverse range of artists who bring their specific aesthetics from wherever they may be from. May talented artist live outside the metro area to take full advantage of the Western mentality which allows for experimentation, solitude, affordability, and creative freedom.
3) If you could give up and coming artists one piece of advice what would it be?
As the Director of Galleries and Curator at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, my advice to artists would be to have a website and an email address (an actual email address not a form) on the website. As an artist, I’d say “Keep Creating!” and book a show. Nothing is a bigger motivator than an approaching deadline. Also, build a studio (garage, basement or guest bedroom) it’s an affordable way to have a studio in an otherwise expensive city.
4) What has been the most challenging part of being an artist? How has it affected your lifestyle?
Being an artist is a long game and I’m just 10 years into it. Sometimes people assume that you must be starving or suffering as an artist. I’m happy and quite full! I’m a new father so that has changed my processes tremendously as finding studio time is even more of a challenge, so I’ve taught myself different processes and techniques to get the maximum efficiency in the studio. I do miss the experimentation and failures that I haven’t had as much opportunity this past year.
5) What’s your favorite color?
Gray. We don’t live in a black or white world although I think many people sure wish we did. My second favorite color is Colorado Blue Sky Blue. You know that deep blue on that perfect summer afternoon.
6) If you could collaborate with one artist (living or dead) who would it be and why?
My father (Charles Parson) and Carl Sagan. I probably wouldn’t collaborate with my father as were both set in our artistic ways but I wanted to bring up his name as a huge influence on me and my work along with many others in the local art community. Even though Sagan is a scientist, I think his creativity in astronomy and the way he was able to communicate the importance of science and astronomy is an art in itself.
You can catch Collin and his incredible work at the Denver Art Museum AFTERGLO party, this Friday! Uncorked is the Denver Art Museum’s spring fundraising event celebrating wine and creativity. The event is a gala and dinner followed by a super fun afterparty called AFTERGLO that’s filled with art installations, great music and dancing. It’s the perfect way to give back to our beloved Denver Art Museum while enjoying a special night with your friends! Buy your tickets here and we will see you on the dance floor!