Pat Milbery to bring vibrancy to the Avon Recreation Center with new mural
Professional snowboarder turned street artist has a long history of creating art, and memories, in Colorado and Eagle County
The exterior of the Avon Recreation Center is about to get a whole lot less dreary with the installation of a new mural this summer. A jury panel comprised of local art professionals and town staff recently selected Pat Milbery to complete the $25,000 project.
Although he is originally from Saint Paul, Minnesota, Milbery has a long history in Eagle County. He first visited Avon at age 14 where “the whole energy of Colorado just completely consumed me at that young age,” he said. “I told myself, this is where I’m meant to be.”
Milbery moved out to Colorado at age 21 to pursue his career as a professional snowboarder. And even as his snowboard career progressed and took him across the world, Milbery kept art close to his heart. Starting with creating graphics and product art for collaborations with brands, he slowly began to transition his career to creating art full-time. Looking back at his entire career as both a pro snowboarder and an artist, Milbery considers himself a “creative collaborator” through it all.
Today, Milbery is the owner and founder of So-Gnar Creative Division, which is an art collective responsible for all his mural projects. He also owns and founded the Snowboard Camp Tour, which aims to makes freestyle riding more accessible to kids across the country, as well as the So-Gnar streetwear and apparel line. He has helped to curate and create major installations for Denver Public Schools, the City of Denver, X Games, Loveland Ski Area, Declaration Brewery, the Dew Tour and many more. Milbery has also previously collaborated with the Art in Public Places commission in Vail.
Milbery was selected out of 32 applicants to complete the mural project at the rec center largely based on his experience and expertise as well as his ties to the community here. He still spends a large chunk of his time in Eagle County, visiting his studio located at his dad and step mom’s home in Edwards and enjoying the amenities of Beaver Creek and the valley.
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In an effort to generate more cultural capital in Avon, the town has been creating more opportunities for art and music to be featured around town. This mural project, however, represents new ambitions and a new era of public art, as it is the first project of this scale and style to be completed in the town. (The town did install a large Carrie Fell mural for the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, but the artwork was adhered to the wall as a vinyl wrap rather than as a painted work of art.)
“Avon isn’t starting small,” Milbery said, noting that this will be one of the largest murals the valley has ever seen. “What I think is special about this project is it’s going to kick the door open for public art.”
Danita Dempsey, the cultural, arts and special events manager for the town of Avon, echoed this sentiment, stating that this mural project will kick off a whole summer of public art, including the launch of a year-long sculpture project as part of the Art Around Avon initiative.
Plus, the location of the project will play an important role in promoting vibrancy and creativity in the community. According to Dempsey, the rec center and surrounding area serves as a gateway between the west and east sides of town. “It’s really going to become a focal point, a gateway to Nottingham Park,” Dempsey said. “We really wanted it to be a location that could inspire the community, inspire conversation and connection and create place making.”
Milbery describes the mural as fun, wild, colorful, layered and abstract.
“The mural project in the entryway of the Avon Rec Center piqued my interest as it’s a wonderful canvas in a high-visibility area – allowing for colorful and dynamic art to come to life,” Milbery wrote in the project application. “With this being such an important part of the local Avon community, it’s important we take into consideration the diverse community it serves.”
The design incorporates a number of activities that residents and visitors can participate in both at the Rec Center and in the neighboring areas, including soccer, paddle boarding, fly-fishing and a number of musical elements. It also includes more abstract interpretations of the town including a magpie playing the guitar, Milbery’s signature geometric heart and even a camouflaged Avon logo.
“There’s just a lot of energy in there,” Milbery said. “It will just really add to their public art collection. I feel — as an artist and a creator — honored that I can add to what they’ve been working hard to build for a long time with their public art and contribute.”
While the exact dates for the mural installation have yet to be decided, it will be prepped, painted and completed in June. Milbery estimates that the project will take about two weeks to complete, with, of course, breaks to utilize the rec center, bike around town, paddle board and enjoy Avon’s amenities, he said. He encourages residents and visitors to come and visit the site during installation and engage with the process.