Local artist Brett Riggin simultaneously follows his passions for art and music
If you go …
What: “Carpe Diem,” two art shows featuring work from local artist Brett Riggin.
When and where: Today through Thursday, June 16, at the Vail Public Library, 292 W Meadow Drive, Vail, with piano reception to be announced; and throughout the month of July at the Avon Public Library, 200 Benchmark Road, Avon.
More information: Call Riggin at 970-376-6073 to learn more about his art.
Brett Riggin’s parents introduced him to art at a young age, and his passions for both visual art and music grew in tandem, each influencing the other.
“When I grew up in New York, they sent me to the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I was 6 years old and I just got it,” he said. “Ever since, it’s just a way of life, which I correlate with my music and which inspires me.”
Being both an artist and a musician, trades that individually require tremendous commitment and focus, hasn’t been without its challenges. Riggin’s pursuit of his parallel crafts was first tested when he headed to college and a professor implored him to choose between the two, to either dedicate himself to his music or fine art.
“I remember looking him right in the eye and just telling him, ‘Don’t tell me what I can’t do. I can be committed to both,”’ he said. “By truly being an artist, to me, I can express it through my paintings and I can express it through my music.”
Music and art
The two paths have become intertwined for Riggin, from his days as a pianist on a cruise ship, which carried him from port to port, allowing him to explore many of the world’s greatest art museums, to a recent stint on the 16th Street Mall in Denver, busking at the colorful public pianos and painting in the park for days on end.
“I’ve played in so many places, but to sit down and wear the same clothes for five days and live in the park and go play those pianos … it gives you this sense of what’s going on in real life with people who don’t have a talent that I’m so luxuriously allowed to take around the world,” he said.
Those real-life experiences inspire his art, as do the Rocky Mountain vistas that have surrounded him since he set down roots in the Vail Valley 36 years ago.
“It’s very obvious how much art, dance and music — the arts throughout the valley and the avenues that are available for young students — I think it enhances life,” he said. “We have the natural beauty here from the mountains and the waters and stuff, but to express that as best you can is absolutely stunning that you have it at your fingertips.”
Riggin’s artistic process grows from observing everything around him at every moment, he said, whether it’s the aspen just getting ready to blossom or the flowing water in the valley’s rivers and creeks, it all has an important role to play in the process of life and art.
“To be able to express that feeling, which I’m hoping to be able to do, is the passion of growing and understanding what’s right here in front of your face,” he said. “It’s very honest like that. Look at the colors, look at the mountains, look at the change, and if you’re lucky enough to be able to express that, hopefully, then God bless you, really.”
About the shows
Riggin said he has paintings all over the valley in homes and hotels, but his current show at the Vail Public Library, as well as his upcoming show at the Avon Public Library in July, will present his artwork in a less traditional way.
“In this art show, there will be old pieces that show I have the knowledge of what I’ve been brought up with, and then showing what that knowledge has brought to me to expand and express myself, which is very important to me,” he said.
As the month goes by at each venue, Riggin will change pieces in and out in loosely chronological order of when they were created, allowing the public to see the progression of styles that comprise his evolution as an artist. The idea for this dynamic show was inspired by a particular trip to the Picasso Museum Barcelona back in his cruise ship days.
“You start out on the first floor and it shows (Picasso’s) realistic things that he had to do to get by, and you go up in the floors and you see how he progressed through his black and white period and through his Blue Period and when he got to Cubism,” Riggin said. “And realize that people do progress, and that’s what I hope to do with this show, is show stuff from when I was 6 years old all the way up to the age that I am now.”
He said the advantage of old age is experience, being able to assimilate his classical artistic upbringing with what he has absorbed from museums and galleries throughout his travels — his favorite being the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia — and adding his own modern artistic passion to ultimately create something new.
“There will be three pieces in here that I’ve created that are sculptures, in memory of my mother, who just passed away April 17,” he said. “And one is a sculpture of dance, which she gave me the encouragement to deal with and the perseverance. And then there will be a cocktail table that I found on the side of the road and you make that into a piece of art. That takes the presence of a gift that somebody gives you.”
Riggin is hoping to eventually host a reception for the Vail show, where he will perform on the piano as attendees walk amongst his work, displaying his passion for art and his passion for music simultaneously.
“This is a new start of what I hope will be another inspiration to new artists and people just to see life differently,” he said.
Heroes look like these guys: Bill “Sarge” Brown, Bob Parker, Pete Seibert, Sandy Treat, Dick Over, Hugh Evans and so many others from the 10th Mountain Division who helped win World War II and, while building the peace, also built the ski industry in the United States.