100 Colorado Creatives 4.0: Annie Carlson

Annie Carlson with Huey the cat.
Annie Carlson with Huey the cat.
Courtesy of Annie Carlson
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#14: Annie Carlson

Annie Carlson co-founded the alternative house venue Melon Gallery with partner Victor Machado, which went swimmingly until recently: In a predictable Denver-style turn of events, the couple is being forced out of their space by rising rents. But without Melon, a labor of love, self-taught designer and artist Carlson still has plenty to do as co-partner in the online slow-fashion atelier frnds of ours, which still has a bright future. How does the world look to Carlson at this creative crossroads? Read her 100CC questionnaire and find out.

frnds of ours red linen Alva trousers; model: Aika Smith.
frnds of ours red linen Alva trousers; model: Aika Smith.
Courtesy of Annie Carlson

Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?

Annie Carlson: I love movies, and I find a lot of my inspiration from set designs. I use them to find colors and objects that help ignite an idea, whether it‘s a new garment, photo shoots for frnds of ours, a drawing or a still-life photograph. Some of the most influential films for me are Blue Velvet, Suspiria, Paris Texas, Akira, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Metropolis…. I could list a million more, but I will stop there.

Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?

Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. I adore all their work, and Mapplethorpe’s still lifes have greatly influenced my own work. The love Patti and Robert shared was so rare and beautiful, and I’d love to see their energy. Finally, my dad – he’s my favorite person in the whole world, and I don't have dinner with him enough.

frnds of ours biscuit canvas jacket; model: Kimmy Rowe.
frnds of ours biscuit canvas jacket; model: Kimmy Rowe.
Courtesy of Annie Carlson

As an artist and a gallerist, what is your opinion of the current climate in the local art world?

Denver is a great stepping-stone city for creatives; the community is extremely encouraging, and it's easy to get your foot in the door. However, you do hit a wall after a while.

Are trends worth following? What’s one trend you love and one that you hate?

Trends are worth looking at: They inspire us and influence our work whether we'd like to admit it or not. I think it’s important to stay true to yourself and work, because all trends come to an end. It's important to keep evolving as an artist and not sticking to the same formulated style, and I think trends can help people get out of their comfort zone. A trend I love right now is the resurgence of still lifes. It’s made my work more relevant and has given me recognition of things I have been creating for a long time. A trend I hate is fast fashion: It’s horrible for our planet.

What’s your best or favorite accomplishment as an artist?

Launching my own company, frnds of ours, with my best friend, Sonora Goldman, at 24, and starting Melon Gallery. Unfortunately, Melon is coming to an end in August due to an increase in rent. Victor and I are so fortunate to have been able to have a space to show young contemporary artists; we hope many more DIY spaces will come after us.

frnds of ours black linen jumpsuit; model: Jacqueline Koryn.
frnds of ours black linen jumpsuit; model: Jacqueline Koryn.
Courtesy of Annie Carlson

You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?

I would love to make frnds of ours my full-time job and live abroad for a few years.

Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?

I will always love Denver. It’s been my home for a long time, but I am very ready for a change and to not be so comfortable.

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

I have admired Mario Zoots’s work for a long time. I love his collages and the way he utilizes white space in his pieces.

What's on your agenda in the coming year?

We have our final show at Melon Gallery on July 20: the release of Vol. 3 of Soft and Shallow. We are very excited and hope to see many faces there! Also, frnds of ours will be carried in a few boutiques across the country – check our stockists in the next few months to see where we are carried!

100 Colorado Creatives 4.0: Annie CarlsonEXPAND
Courtesy of Annie Carlson

Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?

My good friend Lucy Gale is an incredible artist; her installations and videos are really personal and intelligent. Her work explores how familial histories ingrain themselves through generations, creating the desire to connect through lost time. She's off to France this August, but I hope she comes back to Denver. She will get the recognition she deserves, I’m sure.

Melon Gallery, 200 Galapago Street, launches Soft and Shallow’s third volume, "Wet Ruffles," a visual exploration of male platonic intimacy, at a reception on Friday, July 20, from 6 to 11 p.m. A related installation by Alexander Ablola, Meredith MacNicholas, Orenda Lou, Sammy Keller, Wade Novotny, Anthony Jones and Gaia Orr will remain on view at the gallery through the end of July.

Keep up with new developments at frnds of ours online.

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