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A letter from our Director of Galleries

I’ve been part of the Arvada Center family since 2004. I began my career at the Arvada Center while assisting my sculptor father install his art in our spacious Main Gallery. Working my way up from Gallery Assistant to the Director of Galleries and Curator, I came to appreciate the creative energy that makes the Center the amazing place it is today. I’ve programmed more than 100 exhibitions here, and yet, I can’t think of a more difficult time to be working in the spaces of the Arvada Center. 

The Center feels vacant; I’m used to being surrounded by the sounds of piano accompaniment resonating throughout the building while I work; children running to class while I remind them “no running in the galleries”; ceramics students hauling their dusty tools into the building; and theatre patrons browsing through our galleries on their way to see one of our wonderful productions. 

Watch: Get to know Collin Parson in this profile from summer 2020!

In the unnerving and chaotic days early in the pandemic, our gallery staffPink Lemonade Hope by Koko Bayer set a single goal: Keep Art Happening! The doors to the Arvada Center were closed, and so we worked with local artist Koko Bayer to bring a large heart from her sprawling Pink Lemonade Hope (pictured to the right) project to the outside of the building. While a simple install, it was momentous for us--even though our galleries were locked, we stayed true to our mission of providing art to the public, of inspiring our community, and of being a home for Colorado artists. Koko’s now-iconic hearts intended to give hope to our patrons, but it gave us hope, too. Even during a global crisis rife with death and darkness, artists are creating. Art is still happening.

We have been so fortunate at the Arvada Center Galleries--while many other venues had to close completely, our expansive spaces allowed us to continue presenting excellent exhibitions to the public. It’s easy to create physical distance in a 10,000-square-feet exhibition space! Quickly implementing a free reservation system, we welcomed guests to Pink Progression: Collaborations to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment; Narkita Gold: Black in Denver to spotlight the spectrum of our Black community through powerful photography; and now Wood.Works and Carley Warren: Three Pieces to revel in the massive possibilities when you join artists’ minds with one of humanity’s most beloved and ubiquitous materials. 

A photo of Wood.Works by Wes Magyar

Our galleries create original exhibitions from the artists of our region. Being an artist from Colorado myself, this is not only important to me and my own creative work, but also important to the countless other talented artists from our great state. Coming from a family of artists (my father a sculptor, my mother a modern dancer, my sister an actor, and my brother a musician), I’ve come to truly see the importance of supporting--both financially and emotionally--living artists of our state. They need a venue. They need opportunity. They need support. They need the Arvada Center, and the Arvada Center needs them for the creative energy that we’ve come to love.

I look forward to welcoming you all back,


Collin Parson

Director of Galleries and Curator

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