2018 Honoree: Artist Award

Carlos Frésquez
Carlos Frésquez

Carlos Frésquez has exhibited his work in more than 30 U.S. states and in ten different countries, but perhaps it is his enduring mark on his hometown of Denver – through the creation of his art around the city over the last 40 years – that has made the greatest impact. A dedicated artist and educator, Carlos has spent his career offering a unique perspective on culture in Denver and the Chicano community’s impact on the city’s evolution. His early artistic vision was inspired by the Chicano civil rights movement of the 1960’s that endeavored to achieve Mexican American empowerment. Today, his works explore significant issues of our time while maintaining his cultural roots. From the muraled walls at Su Teatro depicting the feathered serpent “Quetzalcoatl,” to the iconic image of St. Cajetan’s Church on the Auraria Campus, Frésquez carries on the historic and educational tradition of Mexican muralists. His influential and prolific works also include painting, collage, and theater set design.

Carlos received his BA from Metropolitan State College and MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He returned to his alma mater to teach in 1989 as an adjunct professor and became a full-time professor in 2005. He shared, “I try to inspire and engage my students, enabling them to produce meaningful works of art. I am humbled watching them participate in what I feel is the spiritual act of painting.” As an educator, Carlos puts an emphasis on advising his students by providing open office hours, feedback on students’ paintings, and introductions to opportunities post-graduation to succeed in the art world. Seeking to support future artists and former students, Carlos teaches a course called Community Painting: The Mural, that allows students to work collaboratively to create a work of public art. To date, the course has led to more than a dozen murals throughout Denver created by his students.

Over the course of his career, Carlos has made history as an artist. In 1992, Frésquez’s work was included in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s first exhibition of Chicano art. He’s exhibited in The Bronx Museum, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, La Bellas Artes in Mexico City, and The National Museum of American Art in Washington DC, among others. Most recently, his work was lauded in Sangre Colorado: Carlos Fresquez Mid-Career Survey at Metropolitan State University’s Center for Visual Art. Carlos’ numerous recognitions include the Civil Right Award from NEWSED Community Development, Spirit of Tlatelolco from la Escuela Tlatelolco, and the Lena Archuleta Award from the Denver Public Library.