NOTE: As we look to reopen our doors and reignite the arts, one thing becomes clear: The key to our creativity is our people. Songs are not sung, sets are not built, choreography is not taught, and canvases are not painted on their own. In our new “Humans of the Arvada Center” series, we are highlighting the heartbeat of the Center: The people who make up the Arvada Center family.
By Leslie Simon and John Moore
Collin Parson did not find the arts as a child. “The arts found me,” he said.
“With a father who is an artist and arts educator, a modern-dance mother, an actor for a sister, and a brother who is both a musician and artist, my childhood and adult life has been all art,” he said.
Collin is a light-installation artist, curator, designer and Denver native. He became involved with the Arvada Center in 2004 while helping his accomplished sculptor father Charles Parson install an exhibition of his in the Main Gallery. “The then-Director asked if I wanted to help install future exhibitions,” Collin said, “and from there I worked my way up to become the Director of Galleries in 2016.”
But while learning at the side of a prominent artist no doubt set Collin on his lifelong path, “as an adult, he stands in nobody's shadow,” wrote Westword’s Susan Froyd. “This accomplished young man has nowhere to go but up.”
Collin is a former member at the historic Pirate: Contemporary Art cooperative and recently finished up his artist residency at RedLine Denver. The Wheat Ridge High School grad earned his degree Theater Design and Technology with emphasis in Lighting and Scene Design from the University of Colorado Boulder, and his Master in Arts in Visual Culture and Arts Administration from Regis University.
His creative emphasis involves the control of light and color to create vivid geometric light and space works. He was named one of Westword’s 100 Colorado Creatives in 2013, and his work has been featured in many TV and print productions.
Collin's most recent curatorial project at the Arvada Center was titled “528.0 Regional Printmaking Exhibition and Imprint: Print Educators of Colorado.” His own public art commission was recently unveiled at Addenbrooke Park in Lakewood, and he had two sculptures on display through 2019 as part of Art on the Streets in Colorado Springs. His solo “INTERFERENCE” exhibition was shown in Denver at Michael Warren Contemporary this past fall. Over the years, he has worked as a technician or carpenter for several local theatre companies including the DCPA Theatre Company, Curious Theatre and Colorado Shakespeare Festival.
Watch: Hear from Collin and father Chuck Parson
Being deeply ingrained in the creative community has helped Collin tremendously in his career, he says, because carving out a sustainable life as a working artist is a major challenge for any creative person working in any creative discipline.
“Some of the hardest-working people I know are artists, and unfortunately our culture doesn't value this profession to the degree it should,” he said. “Many consider art to be a hobby, while creators see it as a profession and lifestyle. We can be taken for granted, so it's a tough business both financially and emotionally.
“Putting your work out there can be a scary thing to do, but when your art makes an impact on someone, it's the most amazing feeling."
His message to anyone reading: “Support living artists!" And visit the Arvada Center. “We're only 64 feet above Denver,” he said.