Adrian H. Molina, aka Molina Speaks, fosters creative collaboration in Breckenridge
Resident artist working with community through March
Adrian H. Molina had only been to Breckenridge once prior to February. Now, he’s embedded in the region for over a month.
As Breckenridge Creative Art’s latest artist-in-residence, Molina hopes to grow himself and members of the community, personally and creatively. His professional handle Molina Speaks is a nod to his work as a poet, but Molina calls himself simply an artist. He works in multiple genres of music, has dabbled in film, does performance art and recently got into painting.
Poetry — from written to spoken word to slam — was his first art form, however. Molina grew up in Rawlins, Wyoming, and didn’t have a lot of creative outlets.
“That was the first creative gift that came to me,” Molina said. “I had my breath. I had my words. I had my ideas.”
He listened to Los Angeles Chicano rapper Kid Frost and Tupac Shakur and found the music help him make sense of the world through his teenage years. Molina also calls rap accessible and Indigenous since it is essentially an old way of telling stories made new with technology. He sees poetry as a continuum with rap on it, adding that it can’t be contained by labels or boxes.
“It’s a deep part of human expression, and it just comes out in different ways,” Molina said. “Art is life and really humanity, more than anything else, is about our creativity.”
Molina isn’t formally trained. Rather, he studied sociology at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Yet he would frequently travel south to Denver for concerts, hip-hop events, open mic nights and other cultural happenings. He moved to Denver roughly 15 years ago and stayed because of the freedom to stretch himself as an artist.
Compared to other cities, Molina saw Denver then as the Wild West. He felt no pressure to stay in his lane of a particular genre or medium. Instead, he saw the opportunity for growth and that he could be driven by radical imagination, or by simply being a parent or a friend.
“I spent some time back and forth between Brooklyn, Oakland and Denver for a couple of years for creative projects I was in, and I felt like Denver was the place I needed to be,” Molina said. “To me, there was so much possibility in the future.”
Some of the work he’s done in Denver includes being a partner artist with music education organization Youth on Record as well as a contributor to Meow Wolf Denver’s Convergence Station. Molina collaborated with Stevon Lucero at Meow Wolf on one of Lucero’s last pieces before the 71-year-old died in November.
Molina was approached to work with Meow Wolf back in 2018. He was project manager of the Indigenous Futurist Dreamscapes Lounge at Convergence Station and chose Lucero, another Wyoming artist who lived in Denver, to take part in the immersive experience that features more than 70 installations. Over weeks, the two would paint dreamscapes, and Molina recorded music, videos and other elements with additional collaborators.
He was grateful that he got to be Lucero’s apprentice, and Molina hopes to curate a memorial show for him later in the spring.
Similar to Meow Wolf, Drea Edwards with BreckCreate reached out to Molina last year and encouraged him to apply to be a resident. He is excited to spend time in a small, mountain town and connect himself and his children — a 6-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son — to the winter and snow.
“Growing up, I didn’t have access to winter sports,” Molina said. “… It’s only in the past few years that I’ve really even begun to dress appropriately for winter, even in Denver. A lot of that just has to deal with being from a working-class background and money being tight.”
Molina said he was sick a lot with asthma and allergies as a kid, making winters hard as he would get bronchitis and pneumonia. Nowadays, as his health improved, he wants to take time to appreciate winter.
Molina has three key themes that appear in his work: technology, sustainability and humanity. He looks at how they intersect, and with his Breckenridge residency, he’ll particularly be focusing on climate issues. As he embeds himself in town, he has heard from locals at restaurants and stores that this winter’s snowpack hasn’t been as good as others.
“With the melting of the glaciers around the world, with the ecological crisis we face with the Colorado River and with less snow in our own Rocky Mountains, this is a serious issue,” Molina said. “What we do … is going to determine whether human beings are even here in a hundred years, whether we have an inhabitable planet.”
He hopes his art will connect the mountains’ wild nature with their economical drive and get people to think more creatively and deeply about them. Molina is making a poetic record of his time in Breckenridge as well as paint on canvas — which he considers himself a novice at — and make collages with found materials.
Yet, the process of creation, particularly in this residency, is more valuable to Molina than the final product. His opening community conversation Feb. 8 involved songs, a roundtable discussion and making and sharing blackout poetry. Each workshop stands on its own, and Molina tailors the project to the community to make it personal.
“After they got a chance to know a little bit about me, and we got a chance to co-create together, I wanted to know what they wanted from me, what they hoped I would do, what they wanted to see come out of the residency,” Molina said. “I’m a guest here.”
After participating in February’s Second Saturday, Molina will be a part of it again next month March 12. He has open studios Feb. 24 and 28 as well as March 1, 8, 12 and 18. Workshops are scheduled for Feb. 23-24 and March 16.
Some items created will be kept by attendees, others Molina will incorporate into his final, larger piece. Since it’ll evolve over time, Molina isn’t entirely positive what his residency will culminate as other than some sort of creative experience with music and poetry.
Joining him March 18 is environmental justice advocate Michelle Gabrieloff and professor Ramon Parish, and Beatriz Soto will be at the Feb. 23 event at Summit County Library’s Silverthorne location.
“It’s going to be a lot of different minds and a lot of different hands, a lot of different moments and days that come together to say and express something,” Molina said.
“I hope that people leave their time with me inspired,” Molina said. “I hope that they’re inspired toward the radical imagination, and I hope that I leave here with that same blessing.”
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