Art in the Fast Lane

R. Nelson Parrish translates his love for moving fast into eye-catching art.

By Cole D. Lehman January 1, 2016 Published in the Winter/Spring 2016 issue of Park City Magazine

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Art steps in to tell stories where words fail. Experiences like a legendary powder day, the adrenaline high of a ski race, and surfing the perfect wave leave us with feelings that traditional language can’t touch. Visual artist R. Nelson Parrish uses color to share his awe of these coveted moments with the world.

Born and raised in Alaska, Parrish imbues his wall works and totems with the senses awakened by living both in the mountains and near the ocean. A world-class artist with a down-to-earth mentality, Parrish fits right into Park City life. He calls California home but counts his powder days here, collaborating with local ski company Soul Poles and avidly supporting the Kimball Art Center (now in its temporary location at 1401 Kearns Blvd, 435.649.8882, “The Kimball Art Center holds a special place in my heart,” Parrish says. “It’s a vital cultural center for the community, and I love what they do to support local artists and education in the arts. Not everyone has the opportunity to go to New York, LA, or London. Instead, the Kimball brings those places to Park City.”

The Kimball first showcased Parrish’s work in a 2012 exhibition entitled COLOR/FAST. Reception for his unusual bioresin, wood, and fiberglass pieces was outstanding; in fact, it was one of the most successful shows in the history of the center. “Considering the focus of his work, the intersection of man and nature, this show’s success speaks volumes about how strongly his art resonates with our community,” remarks Robin Marrouche, Kimball Art Center executive director.

Recently, Vail Resorts retired Park City Mountain Resort’s original Motherlode chairlift and donated the old triple chairs to local nonprofits. The Kimball Art Center chose Parrish to turn theirs into a work of art to be auctioned off to raise funds for the center.

When he has to use words, how does Parrish describe a powder day? “A friend of mine once said, ‘There are no losers on powder days, but whoever smiles the most is the big winner,’” he says. “I always liked that. A smile is the best way to express the feeling of a good powder day.” And the best way to describe the feeling evoked by Parrish’s colorful, inventive, and thoughtful works of art.

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