We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelton Osborn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelton, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Both of my parents are scientists and I was raised to question and explore. I have an innate capacity for spatial problem solving. For me, architecture was a natural fit. My education and training provided the foundations to build my art practice. I love exploration with materials and am constantly experimenting with both two-dimensional and three-dimensional creations. It was a natural transition to move into the public art realm from the architecture world. I have been able to utilize my experiences creating buildings and apply them to my large-scale public art projects. One of the skills that I have found to be very important in my public art practice is my ability to project manage, including creating schedules and budgets. My studio practice has become a great source of happiness for me, it is not a job but a desire that I am able to pursue each day. I feel very fortunate to have opportunities that allow my creations to be placed out in the public. I feel complete when I am able to make things, design is a therapy of sorts. I am lucky to have a career that follows my passions.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
For as long as I can remember, I have been drawing and making things. As a child I was constantly building forts and tearing objects apart to see how they worked. In school I sketched and doodled instead of taking notes. Things changed for me once I discovered architecture and design. I began to thrive in school. It no longer felt like work to me – it was exhilarating, challenging, and fun. I have both a Bachelor and a Master degree in Architecture. My initial design career spanned more than 20 years in local architecture firms. The economic downturn of 2009 afforded me the opportunity to leave corporate stress behind and focus on my own art and design. (Actually, I was laid off.) I did this while also taking on a bigger role in raising my daughter Gwendolyn while my wife went back to full time work with her own business. It was the best thing I could have imagined, spending more time with my young daughter and focusing on my own creative passions. It has not been an easy path. Turns out trying to make a sustainable living with an art career is pretty difficult. Fortunately, I have good friends who are deeply involved in the Denver art’s community who have shared their knowledge and provided support and inspiration. Now I can offer the same to others. My art practice includes painting, sculpture and large-scale public art. This keeps things interesting and provides multiple outlets for opportunities with commissions and sales. I had my first solo gallery show in 2013 at the Carmen Wiedenhoeft Gallery (now closed). This show allowed me to connect with other artists, gallery owners and collectors. After Carmen’s gallery closed I found representation at the Michael Warren Contemporary Gallery, also in Denver. I have had wonderful success in the five years I have been with MWC gallery. It really helps to work with people who are also passionate about your work and great about creating opportunities for exposure and sales.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
A favorite day or night out: For the best food and service in all of Denver we head to The Plimoth for dinner. I start the meal with a Talent Scout and my wife orders an Aviation. We can always depend on RedLine Contemporary Art Center for compelling exhibitions and enlightening programming. We love the Alamo Drafthouse for bottomless popcorn, shakes and a flick.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My wife Sarah has provided consistent support and encouragement over the past 24 years. She is always willing to discuss ideas and give advice. She has lots of advice. She genuinely cares about my happiness. I am fortunate to have this partnership and deeply appreciate our shared journey. In addition, I had a graduate school mentor who helped me find my artistic voice. Professor Douglas Darden (1951 – 1996) at UCD’s school of architecture helped me realize that design is more than just beauty and that it can express feelings, emotions and movement. Douglas helped me understand my own design process and to move beyond my comfort level. My creative process continues to develop through experimentation while harnessing accidental and impulsive gestures that are void of preconceived ideas.