Photo by Michele Cardamon Photography
Aspen artist Axel Livingston sold all but one painting in his first solo exhibition in Aspen and we, as a community, could not be more proud. But what exactly is it that we are proud of? Yes, the kid’s got talent and we are incredibly proud of his work in all of its layers and depth that include incredibly important messages about our upside-down world, and teen mental health, but we are also proud that he believes in his own work enough to manifest his dreams. As someone who holds the art of Ralph Steadman in high regard, he became fixated on showing in the Gonzo Gallery (now Fat City Gallery) and over a Covid-ridden winter began visiting Curator and Director, DJ Watkins, planting the seed. And then a perfect storm brewed. Sam Harvey opened up Studio 517, an art collective with approximately 16 studios located below the Harvey Preston Gallery. Axel procured a studio space and became the youngest artist at the collective, working his little bottom off for six months during his deferred year to art college in Detroit to create pieces for a show that he had no guarantee was actually happening.
Watkins, who always has his eye out for up-and-coming talent, had already heard rumblings about Axel’s work. His interest peaked when Axel showed him his “Red Shark” piece. Axel’s persistency in creating pieces and visiting Watkins at the gallery led to Axel’s two-week Solo Exhibit: “It Never Got Weird Enough For Me.” Axel was the youngest artist with a solo show at The Gonzo Gallery in Aspen.
“My advice to young artists is to never be put inside a box and try to be expanding in all dimensions simultaneously, three-dimensionally. What is exciting about Axel’s work is that he is constantly exploring new expressions. … Great artists never stop creating and they never stop expanding into new realms. Axel’s work is “unique, it’s at inspiring it’s mixed-media, layered and they have a lot of depth. I consider it an honor to be featuring Axel’s first solo show. I’m lucky to have this space and to be able to support young artists when I have the opportunity.” ~ DJ Watkins
Watkins was mentioned as being one of the top 100 party planners in the country and Axel’s opening was not only a success because of the pieces sold, but also because our community showed up. For many of us, the opening was one of the first gatherings we had been to since the following March when Covid closed up Aspen, and the energy was intense.
“We’re known for throwing good parties at the gonzo gallery but I think that Axel’s show and the opening will definitely go down as one of the coolest openings aspen has seen in ages.” … “The opening night was stellar. it was community. It was happening, there was dancing in the streets. There were young people there were old people, there were rich people, there were poor people, there were freaks there were weirdos, there were hedge funders and derelicts and everybody universally has a good time.” ~ DJ Watkins
Now, as the emails flow in for Axel to donate his work to local non-profit auctions, and to be involved in fashion lines, Axel is doing his best to enjoy his last year as a teen and the rest of his summer before college starts. If you have any proposals for Axel or are interested in viewing his studio, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.