Artist Spotlight: Brian Colley | PostIndependent.com

Artist Spotlight: Brian Colley

Brian Colley with a piece of his work.
Staff Photo |

Brian Colley grew up in Dallas and went to art school in Illinois before coming to Colorado in 2010. He worked at the Wyly Art Center for a while and currently serves as the gallery manager for the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities. Colley, 35, also has a slew of unique work of his own, and recently sat down to discuss it with the Post Independent.

Post Independent: How did you get involved in art?

Brian Colley: Art’s been a part of my life since I can remember– my dad getting out the crayons for a road trips when we were growing up. Formally, I’d say probably college was I started taking it more seriously. I went to a liberal arts college and just kept taking art classes because they were fun. By the end of my sophomore year, my advisor said I should probably figure out my major, so I chose art. The track for fine arts has you go through a bunch of different classes– watercolor, oil painting, figure drawing, graphic design, sculpture…

PI: Which medium ended up speaking to you?

BC: I would say watercolor. It’s so easy– not technically, but it’s so portable. It’s just water and ink. Other paints need much more clean up. With watercolor, you can pack up a little kit and be outside and painting for the day. We were right on the Mississippi River overlooking these limestone bluffs. It was a gorgeous place to go to school, and we were outside a lot. After college I transitioned more into a studio format.

PI: When did you start developing your own style?

BC: Two or three years before I moved out here I started exploring more art with a context– trying to illustrate an idea instead of just painting what’s in front of you. I took some classes at a community college with a professor who believed in using things in your own life or in current events to push your ideas in your work. It’s actually a tricky balance, because you don’t want to come off seeming preachy, and if it’s too subtle it’s just very strange art.

PI: How did that manifest?

BC: For some reason, this image of an astronaut appeared. This idea of an outside of an outside observer looking in was very much how I felt about the world, and on some level still do. It just took off from there. I did a whole series of astronaut paintings, putting them in my dreams and different scenarios.

PI: Did the move to Carbondale alter your art?

BC: Well, when you sign up for a show they often have a theme, so you work toward that. The first show I was in here was at the Aspen Chapel, and it was called “Wilderness.” Most of the artists took it pretty literally, and I decided to make it more introspective. It turned into astronauts in the living room surrounded by taxidermied animals or astronauts out in the woods watching TV.

Since then I’ve painted some local locations, too– Peppino’s, City Market, Mount Sopris with a giant robot. I have fun playing with that.

PI: What’s next?

BC: I have a studio at SAW, and I’m about to collaborate with a friend. We’re going to do letterpress printmaking. I’m also going to have some chalk work over the library in April.


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