100 Colorado Creatives: Onus Spears
#94: Onus Spears Onus Spears (that's a stage name and Facebook alias) isn't your typical creative. He's been homeless at times, and he goes to AA meetings every day. He estimates that he's had dozens of jobs -- the number is in the hundreds, in fact -- over his 49 years. But he is also a man of stories: a gabber who can't stop weaving tales, whether as a standup comic or just a man on -- no, from -- the street. His love affair in life is with art and artists and all people who create something out of thin air and hard work, whether that product be a painting, a poem, an inspiring song or an especially tasty joke.
In recent years, Spears has made a name around town as a promoter of comedy shows, but his latest project is a whole different animal: Called Rawlitix, it's a monthly live-talk show at Deer Pile that morphs into a house party, with a different cast of characters setting the mood of each session.
One month it's low-key; another month it's a huge benefit for an ailing musician. In March, Spears will sing with a band of strange bedfellows. Don't ever think you know exactly what to expect -- but it's likely to combine the host's gift for chatting and his penchant for wanting to expose the public to authentic local voices.
"My slogan and my dream is this: Get involved. Talk about it and fuck shit up in a good way," Spears says of Rawlitix. "I pick all the people involved. Then I tell the story of why that person is on the stage. I want my audience to understand what makes these guests so remarkable. It's like when you go to a really good restaurant, and then you go home and you want to call your best friend and tell him about it. Even if people come to my show feeling low, they're going to be high when they leave."
And it's a growing concern. Each show takes shape in its own unique configuration of the creative, musical and comic Rawlitix model. Spears is exploring the idea of broadcasting in some way in the future, if it feels right, and he's lining up guests months in advance.
Lauri Lynnxe Murphy
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Onus Spears: The Wright Brothers. I love bicycles, and they were bike mechanics who dared to believe they could fly. They were inspiring people who did marvelous things.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Richard Alden Peterson. He is not only a masterful photographer, he is totally authentic and a truly kind man. His influence and generosity in sharing his vision and energy with local artists is hugely positive and will send out waves for generations to come.
What's one art trend do you want to see die this year?
What's your day job?
Whatever I can scrape up: I fix bicycles, computers, paint interiors of houses, shovel snow, sell used bikes. I work hard just finding work that suits me and gets me enough food to eat.
Execute my plan to completely end homelessness in America.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Get involved! Go see a myriad of different kinds of art and artists! This city is utterly bursting with talent and authentic people creating lasting works of merit and deep value in all artistic disciplines! Get involved, talk about art, create ways to further burgeon the scene by getting out and feeling just how great Denver artists really are!!!
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Richard Alden Peterson, without question. He is filled with stories of the early punk scene in San Francisco from '76 on. He has photographed beautifully many iconic musicians throughout his long career. Richard followed a muse that started when he was fourteen: Being a photographer. He has added invaluable vigor, energy and authenticity to our local scene by helping burgeoning artists, collaborating and curating shows in galleries, coffee shops all over Denver. His ideas are fresh and engaging, and his manner is so warm and genuine. I have seldom seen an artist so kind and gentle in his manner, yet still highly effective without being boorish one iota. Richard is the pure article of what a person can become by deeply following their muse to the ends of excellence and authenticity.
The next installment of Rawlitix begins at 9 p.m. February 22 at Deer Pile; guests include musician Mike Cykoski, KUVO DJ and R&B singer Venus Cruz, comedian Bob Meddles and the regulars: keytarist Luke Leavitt and artist Frank Kwiatkowski. Admission is a $5 donation. Go to the Facebook event page for details.
Throughout the year, we'll be turning the spotlight on 100 superstars in Denver's rich artistic community. Watch for the next installment on Show and Tell -- and go to the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.
Who rocks YOUR world locally? Do you have a suggestion for a Colorado Creative? Leave it in the comments section below.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events happening in the Denver art and theater scene.