Sugar Skulls & Portals of Adventure – Sparza Exhibit

Artist Michael Esparza is known as “Sparza” to concert goers, art collectors, construction crews, and fellow snowboarders. Born and raised in Boulder, Sparza has spent 22 seasons on the slopes of Eldora. He considered becoming a pro snowboarder but realized the mountains are his place for meditation over competition. That reflection on colors and light around him has refined his abstract art and his style of psychedelic realism.
Although Sparza has no formal art training, his grandfather’s profession as an oil painter, and his skill at setting tiles, laid his way to dip into graffiti, painting, sculpting, jewelry, and leather as means to express himself. He began live painting with acrylic in 2008 which launched him on a journey to find his own unique style. Scramble Campbell initially inspired him, and then he evolved to painting the vibes vs. the musicians. Capturing the free-flowing energy of the room and music has become his live painting signature style. When he attended the Northwest String Summit in 2009, he sold two of the three pieces he painted during shows. The third piece is his keepsake – a reminder of where he was and wants to go.
Studio painting for Sparza is methodical and unpredictable. He uses mixed media to draft his pieces and then outlines his designs with paint. When the highs and lows appear, he becomes a sculptor where the paint guides him through layers of colors and glazing. He thinks of rudimentary finger painting as he begins, with a loose and wet approach. As he chips away at the canvas to free its design, light is drawn out from shadows and a stained glass effect emerges. Reminiscent of the Mische Technique and Painter Ernst Fuchs, Sparza applies pigment in layers to allow the passing through and reflection of light.
On Friday, March 1, Sparza starts his second month-long exhibit at Salto Coffee Works in Nederland. Gifted at painting skeletons, one section of his exhibit features a brand new series he calls “adventures through portals and sugar skulls.” These works complement Frozen Dead Guy Days in all of its outlandish and skull-related glory. The other two sections of this exhibit include live paintings and memorial paintings. On the music side of Sparza’s First Friday Art Opening, Shawn Cunnane & Kevin Conrad explore sonic and improvisational sounds that will make Sparza’s skeletons dance.

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