We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicholas Emery and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicholas, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As an artist I live by a kind of paradoxical relativity I call structured fluidity. Although that sounds esoteric there is a simplicity to it – you can think of it like a house, I require the structure of the walls in order to inhabit the space freely. As a painter, in general, I am confined visually to the dual shapes of a square or a rectangle, whether large or small. Therefore, the image is constrained by that geometry, and yet I may be able to unearth an image and take risks with it, using the elements of color and texture as mood.
I believe risk is the path of the harbinger, and that is how is how I measure success as an artist, if a piece or body of work is both personally and culturally poignant, a kind of unseen zeitgeist.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I measure myself by my ability and degree of immersion with complexity, paradox, wonder, and irony, and how long I reside in the grey areas. If my art reflects that then I’ve had a good day. I have no lessons to offer, but life is not meant to be easy, if it was, it wouldn’t be life. With that in mind I like to say that the four cornerstones of an artist’s life are failure, rejection, obscurity, and criticism (froc). How I deal with these events, that is, respond, subvert, incorporate, and transcend them, is the lifeblood of my practice.
And lastly, and briefly, in my case it has been important for me to study my three primary western Zodiac personalities – Libra, Gemini, Aquarius – and other personality tests such as Myers Briggs, and Enneagram. These tests have helped me outline my personality traits in order to have a basic understanding of how my particular design works. This has given me the information to realize that one of my advantages at birth was that I was born with an aquarians emotional wisdom and an ability to peek through the fabric of the phenomenological experience. Experiences like those were difficult to articulate, then and now, and I believe paved the way for me to experience my life through the lens of an artist.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The particulars of some of my hang-out haunts are kinda private. Having said that if you’re interested in Art, try Redline Art Center in Denver and talk to the very approachable and interesting executive director Louise Martorano. There is always art to see, and artists and people of all ilk to talk to. Go to their website or call to reserve a time as necessary due to Covid. Maybe you’ll get a tip while you’re there on where else to go.
For food try any number of great and somewhat unique Colo-Mex eateries in Denver.
Colorado has some strange and wonderful roadside attractions too. The Wonder View Tower in Genoa, Colorado that is being painstakingly restored. Or father afoot, you can try the UFO watchtower in the magnificent San Luis valley near Saguache, Co. Who knows what you’ll see?
While you’re in the area you might try to find visual artist, musician and self-described hobo Roy L. Smith, known to many as ‘Ramblin Roy’. If you’re the friendly kind, drop in on him, and if he’s there sample some of his work at Fort Roy at Royville, population 1, about 20 minutes outside of Saguache.
And finally, there are some wonderful hot springs in the area right off the road and hiking in the Sangre de Cristo mountains or the wind-blown sand dunes in Sand Dunes National Park.
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?
There are many, I’ll just choose one. I rarely speak of my mother, but she gave birth to me, and I think Shelley Emery has an excellent eye, a sharp mind, and a keen intellectual and artistic curiosity. Those traits, along with an abundance of energy drove her to mercilessly bore me as a child and teenager on weekends and holidays in museums and historical sites.