Two Aspen High teens bring art, passion to The Collective
Art is a word with many definitions used to describe a multitude of things.
Some loosely describe it as all creative activity expressed through human skill and imagination; others associate it with the medium that resonates most, like paint on a canvas, melodies from an instrument or skis turning down a snowy slope.
For Axel Livingston and Jake Bozza, seniors at Aspen High School, art is a lifeblood.
“For me, art is therapeutic. I always have to have my sketchbook on me,” Livingston said. “I love to talk about art, to talk about my art, inspiration and process, and it’s great to have people want to hear that.”
Last weekend, Livingston and Bozza shared more than two dozen pieces of their work with the Snowmass community at their one-night art opening at The Collective.
Both were celebrating regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards recognition, with Livingston earning four top “gold key” awards and an American Vision nominee for his work, and Bozza earning an honorable mention.
The 18-year-olds dubbed the Snowmass event and celebration a success, expressing excitement about being able to discuss their art and its meanings with the people who came to support them.
“I expected it to be more of a slow gathering with a bunch of people I didn’t know, but it turned into a party at one point where I knew almost everyone in the room,” Bozza said.
“I love seeing my art on the wall and having people ask me questions about it. It really motivates you, you recycle in your head what people tell you and can get ideas for new work.”
According to Jillian Livingston, Axel’s mom, local writer and founder of the Aspen Real Life blog, creating connection and sparking conversation was the main goal of the recent teen art opening in Snowmass.
Jillian organized the event with the Aspen High seniors as both a way to promote their art and to launch her winter and spring Aspen Business Connect series, which aims to bring together business leaders, locals and visitors through storytelling events.
This season’s series will include a mixer at Here House, a “Women Empowering Women” guided conversation to help women realize their potentials, and an event on limiting perceptions led by Kirstie Ennis, a decorated Marine veteran and adaptive adventure athlete, Jillian said.
She also aims to bring more community networking events for area locals of all ages to Snowmass in the coming months, noting the desire to do more for teens and The Collective and East West Partners as supporters of the connect series.
On a recent afternoon at an Aspen coffee shop, Jillian and Axel talked about the dynamics of their relationship as a mother-son duo and business partners, emphasizing that their family’s work ethic and creativity go hand-in-hand.
All three of Jillian and her husband Wade’s sons are artists, which she says is evident after stepping inside their home. The boys converted one room into a studio, Jillian said, and Axel’s bedroom walls are covered in doodles.
But Axel’s goal isn’t just to create work that’s visually pleasing — he said he’s constantly pushing himself to explore new mediums and visually dig into ugly, hard to talk about issues in new ways.
“I think your job as an artist is to reflect reality,” Axel said. “I’m really interested in how struggling makes people better and in bringing light to issues so people see them and talk about them.”
Art is more of a family matter for Bozza, too. He said his dad is an artist and started teaching Bozza to draw and use tools at a young age.
Now as a high school senior, Bozza said he creates all sorts of abstract and contemplative art, using oil, ink, watercolor and more to depict his ideas on paper.
“The art room is a safe place for me. I have four classes in there and the door is always open for me to come in and work,” Bozza said. “It helps me express myself.”
After he graduates, Bozza plans to pursue product design at the University of Oregon, but said he will always continue to draw and paint.
Axel plans to continue to build on his art as a career, hoping to drop a clothing brand soon and looking at either going to art school or taking a gap year to pursue his creative passion.
Whatever he decides, Axel said he’s confident in what he’s doing and that it’s “all gas and no brakes” from here.
“This is just the beginning,” Axel said.
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