Outside The Lines

If packed First Fridays are any indication, Denver’s art scene is booming. Meet seven local artists who are dripping, collaging, and welding their way onto museum and gallery walls around the country.

September 2012

The Culturalist

Carlos Fresquez

When he was in kindergarten, Carlos Fresquez’s teacher had the students drip yellow, blue, and red paint onto white paper. Then she had the class tilt the sheet and watch what happened. “I lift it up and see these colors swirl. I see yellow and blue coming together and making green right in front of my eyes,” Fresquez says. “To me, this was magic. I thought, I’m going to make this magic forever.”

Like a musician who samples beats from those who came before, Fresquez, who lives in southwest Denver, appropriates imagery into new contexts to comment on modern times. His acrylic paintings explore politics, humor, and his heritage (a Chicano-Native American, Fresquez can trace his family’s roots in the United States back to 1617). So it’s no surprise there’s a juxtaposition of cultures in his pieces: a Campbell’s Soup can of posole in one; George and Jane Jetson embracing with a call-out that reads “¡Sin Fronteras!” (“Without Borders!”) in another.

Working on hanging canvases in the basement of his house, Fresquez builds his works layer by layer, sometimes painting over images and starting fresh. And since that primary-color experiment years ago, Fresquez hasn’t moved far from his original dream: He still slowly builds a piece (sometimes over months) one image at a time until a full picture emerges that captures—and comments on—the beat of his hometown.

5280.com Exclusive: Meet painter Carlos Fresquez.

Outside the Lines: A Conversation with Painter Carlos Fresquez from 5280 on Vimeo.