Charles Parson’s award-winning artistic work spans numerous motifs and has appeared in galleries, art centers and museums throughout the United States. He’s been featured in more than 65 one-man shows, as well as numerous regional and national group showings.
But when it came to picking a venue for a sneak preview of his latest works he didn’t go big, he stayed home. Parson is about to unveil “Drawing from Badito Cone” at the intimate Donna Moravec Gallery at CCA. He’ll give an artist’s lecture Feb. 14 in the Art and Design Department, as well as lead a workshop ($10 fee) that precedes the opening night reception Feb. 15 on the Lowry campus, one of two CCA sites that make it unique among Denver, Colorado colleges.
About 22-25 pieces will be featured in the show that runs through April 5 at CCA (http://www.ccaurora.edu). It will include several types of drawings, including an 18-foot, one-dimensional piece, small sculptures and one large sculpture.
All will focus on the Badito Cone, which is embedded in a small mountain peak in southern Colorado as part of a broader horizon line in the Sangre de Cristo range that’s been Parson’s main inspiration for the last two years.
A large, four-by-eight foot schematic also will be introduced to give gallery patrons a glimpse of how the
Badito series fits within Parson’s broader “Still in Centered Point” show that in 2014 will fill about half of a
24,000 square foot exhibit floor at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. That particular exhibition will include about 70-100 pieces, including a 167-foot interior sculpture/drawing combination.
“I’m in between large exhibits and I want to show the new thinking, so the smallness of the Moravec Gallery at CCA allows for showing just a portion,” said Parson, a native of the Detroit area who moved out west after graduate school at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in the 1970s.
“This show is like presenting a musical phrase,” he added. “And it’s enough of a phrase to give you an inkling of what the larger symphonic work will be.”
There’s little doubt Badito Cone has struck a cord with Parson.
He’s been mesmerized by Colorado’s Eastern plains from Kiowa to Trinidad for about four decades. His family built an adobe and steel cabin in the Southern part of the state about 10 years ago and he’s over time drawn inspiration from the surroundings. But, despite it residing in his own backyard, it took some life changes for him to finally hone in on this subtle little cone dwarfed by the surrounding mountainous landscape.
“When I started looking at Badito Cone, it was like this almost sacred place,” he recalled. “So I did some historical reading and found out it was a sacred place in Native American cultures 200 years ago. I found out there were massacres there. I found out that at the base of it there had been in 1811 a French fort. I found out all this stuff and was just intrigued. I found myself looking harder and harder at it.”
Bandito Cone is “subtle” but “enthralling … and made me contemplate things,” which Parson maintained is a key component of the artistic experience.
Some of the works that emanated from his own introspective look are very rendered, but the pieces also morph beyond the realistic and into abstraction, “because I think it carries more power.”
Parson’s visit is part of an ongoing series at the Donna Moravec Gallery at CCA that features local, regional and national artists annually.
Parson’s work has been has been reviewed and featured in scores of publications, including American Artist, Art Week, The Los Angeles Times, New York Times and The Miami Herald. He’s had major installations in cities such as Chicago, New York and Kansas City. He’s been a contract muralist and illustrator since 1986 at the Denver Museum of Art and Science.
But at the core of his drawings, prints, sculptures, stage designs, performance art and other works is a desire to teach about his passion projects and the techniques behind them. He’s been a fixture as an instructor at numerous Colorado institutions, including the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, Metropolitan State College, University of Denver, Regis University and Community College of Denver.
Community College of Aurora’s Art and Design Department thus was a perfect marriage for a Parson production. The college offers a rigorous foundation in the core areas of drawing, creativity, technology, and presentation, in addition to offering graphic design classes and web design classes. Among community colleges in Colorado, CCA stands out in its approach that encourages foundational excellence in faculty, staff, and students while allowing students to explore concept, communication, creative thinking, artistic disciplines, and technology.
Parson will present to CCA students a glimpse into his process, both by the works that will hang on the walls and his presentation.
“I start with a very traditional way of working, which is site observation, and then as I think and investigate and find out what makes it resonate with me personally, I little by little abstract it into what I consider a more universal language but with my own personal vocabulary,” Parson said.