By Ryan Hecht, Arvada Chamber of Commerce Marketing Director
Birdsong Collective Art Gallery opened in October 2023 and expanded shortly after to include framing and custom apparel services. Today, the gallery continues to grow and features nearly 40 artists, including co-owner Jason Birdsong.
“I had the idea [to expand] probably at three weeks,” said Jason. “A month later, I got the keys for the expansion.”
“It took us three days to build this site out,” added co-owner, Victoria Brown.
“We bought out a closed framing shop, which expedited everything,” said Jason. “From there, I just try to figure out what would be best for my artists as a one-stop shop. Right now, everybody is bouncing all over town to get their prints done, their framing done, all of that. Now we’re doing it all. We’re just trying to survive. Gallery life is not easy and it’s not a place to get rich. It’s just about loving the art.”
When did you start as a visual artist?
Jason: “I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. I was probably 7 years old. That was in Homer, Louisiana. A population of about 3,000. I had just been adopted and picked up a pencil and just started drawing from there. I took a couple of small courses in high school but was mostly all self-taught. And then I’d go years without drawing and then pick it back up and get commissions until it felt like a job. And then I’d take another year off (laughs).”
What was your art inspiration early on?
“Comic books, but I still drew a realism style. That’s what I do now. I briefly got into landscaping. My grandmother was trying to push me to do that because she was a landscape painter. That didn’t last long. I’ve always been really into realism.
When I took commissions, somebody would want a drawing of their kid or somebody who passed away or something like that. I’ll still do that for people. That’s kind of my forte. In the past six months, I have tried to find a new niche and experimented with charcoal and brightly-colored splatter paint.”
What were you doing right before you launched the gallery? What made you change?
“Well, I’m still doing what I did before. I worked full-time for Xcel Energy. I’ve been a surveyor for 23 years in the pipeline division. That’s what kept me traveling, following the pipeline jobs.
I quit drinking and left a biker club, all at the same time. So I finally had time to focus on something. I had a big void in my life and art was where I went.
Victoria got me to try charcoal on canvas. I’d never done it before and I fell in love with it from the first picture. Twenty or thirty pieces later, I went out venturing for a gallery to get into. They either had a huge waiting list or they wouldn’t even entertain talking to me because there are so many artists here. And luckily, I’m fortunate to have a good job. So, I said the heck with it, I’ll build my own. I’ve been in galleries in Texas and Louisiana, so I figured I knew the structure and it’s working out great.”
When you have a blank canvas now, what inspires you?
“I have a lot. I’m starting to incorporate more of my personal life. I was more of a replicator, like I would look at an animal or something and that would be what I drew. Now I get ideas in my head and I’ll blend two to three different pictures. So I just have a vision of what I want and I find my references I can use and go for it.”
Victoria: “His mind never stops. Sometimes we catch his ideas on paper and we go back and he’ll be like, ‘Well, what if we tried this with this’ and he pieces everything together.”
Jason: “It’s been pretty crazy; it’s been a rollercoaster. I like to ride the momentum if I have it. So yeah, if I get an idea in my mind, I just go for it.”
What have you learned about yourself as you leaned into risks, rather than weighing the what-ifs?
“To be honest, with the career that I’ve had my whole life, I would always be scared and worried. I don’t have anything else if the oil field crashes. I have no income. I have never done anything else. When I changed my life around and refocused on things, I put my head down and just went for it. And now seeing that, looking outside, I wish I’d have done it 20 years ago. I guess I just wasn’t ready. I would push anybody to go for it because it can happen. You just gotta put your mind to it.
If you had talked to me a year ago, this wasn’t even a blip on the radar. We had the idea and within two weeks we had it up and running.”
What have you found the most gratifying part of this job?
“Well, we want to give back. My fiance went through a rough point in her life and struggled with homelessness. And I went through a time where all I did was look forward to the next drink. So we’re going to give back to causes like homelessness. We just want to give back to people who were in our position. I’ve been pretty fortunate in my life.”
Birdsong Collective Art Gallery
7878 W. 80th Place Ste. 2C & 2D
Arvada, Colorado 80005
Phone: (720) 969-5761