Salida artist Brinkley Messick opens new exhibit

Two weeks ago, Salida artist Brinkley Nelson Messick found a small bullet hole in the wall underneath where he sits to paint inside his converted 1964 Airstream Land Yacht studio. He was able to follow the path of the hole to an exit hole on the other side of the trailer and then to a pock mark on the neighbors’ fence. Messick has not been able to find any leads as to the person responsible for the shot, but it has him on alert. And he hopes that “any would-be jackassess out there blindly taking aim at things they shouldn’t” will stop and think first before they take a son from a mother, a husband from a wife, or a father from a daughter.

In spite of the alarming discovery, Messick is grateful to finally have a studio; his upcoming art show, A Daggum Great Big Ol’ Mess of Big Ass Full Moons, will be the first in which he created the work from a designated space. He described it as legitimizing. “Usually I’ve worked out of the spare bedroom, or my actual bedroom, or the kitchen table. … This just feels nice.”

The theme of the exhibit is based on a Native American myth Messick once heard – that a Raven stole a piece of the sun and made it into the moon. “I’m really drawn to ravens, and there’s a pretty strong connection to the moon,” he added. “Having a theme helps to control the ADD, helps to keep me on track. I’ve been reading about the three super moons over the past two months. It’s pretty cool.”

Messick’s tradition of creating with mixed media continues for this show. He’ll be using acrylic spray paint on salvaged wood from items such as construction waste, old cabinets and a former staircase. “There’s even something from an old bed that was in a friend’s truck. Basically, it’s a mishmash of wood scrap that I broke down and cut into surfaces that I could paint on,” explained Messick. There will, however, be more 3-D artwork, diorama and scenes this go-round – a playful change he credits to the birth of his 11-month-old daughter, Cyclone.

Messick shows his art in Salida as many as two or three times per year. The vast majority of those shows are at Elevation Beer Co. in Poncha Springs, and for good reason. “It’s a great place to show. They treat artists really well. They don’t take a commission so it allows me to keep the prices down a bit,” Messick said. On that subject, he characterized pricing art as “complete bullshit” and had a lot more to say.

“As art becomes less just something I do in my free time and more of a ‘business,’ I’ve recently found myself making larger and larger, more detailed pieces, which means higher and higher prices. I used to pride myself on making art and pricing art that someone like me and living a similar lifestyle could afford; it would be small and feasible for moving from rental to rental or van to van or to a backpack. I’m having a hard time existentially as I feel I’m drifting away from my original intent, but at this show there will be some stuff for less than $30 that will fit most anywhere and not cut into the weekly beer and pizza ration.”

Messick has no plans to quit his part-time day job working for Colorado Mountain Club – advocating for public lands and conservation. “I’m also a stay-at-home dad. I get great inspiration for art working with trails; it’s a pretty symbiotic relationship with all three careers at this point.”

As the show draws closer, Messick is frequently up past midnight perfecting his craft. “I compete against myself and my earlier work – I’m really feeling it since I’m less than a week out. I have good ideas that I want to get down. The competitive drive makes you want to do more and more and get better and better at it.”

His favorite place on earth is where he is right now, living in Salida, making art and spending time with his daughter. “Even with the snow as bad as it’s been, I’d still rather be here.”

Opening night is Wednesday, Jan. 31, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Elevation. Messick’s signature trucker hats and beanies will be available for purchase as well. Follow his work on Instagram @liveyourheartfindhome.