Gallery: 2013Thanksgiving Potluck

Many thanks to my family, fellow-artists, friends, Rose Garden LLC, and Benedict Park Place Enrichment Center for coming together and serving 30+ assisted living residents this year! It was truly a beautiful experience and a testament to the power of collective energy. The smiles on the resident’s faces made it ALL worth it. Hats off to everyone involved.


PRESS: 303 Magazine

Nik Ridley is one artist who has creatively morphed his artistic expression into the visual arts and design. His passion and desire to be an artist is something that can be felt through to the soul of his art.” – WENDY L. PITTON R., 303 Magazine

Click Here to Download Full Article – PDF (3.5MB)

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I will be PAINTING LIVE for the Play “The Most Deserving ” at The Denver Center for the Performing Arts Ricketson Theater (Helen Bonfils Theater Complex) on Thursday, Nov. 7th @ 6:30pm & Sunday, Nov. 10th @ 1:30pm. Brought to you by The Denver Center Theatre Company’s Marquee Club. Check it out! Show details below.


“The Most Deserving” (World Premiere)
by Catherine Trieschmann (Directed by Shelley Butler)
Thursday, Nov. 7th @ 6:30pm & Sunday, Nov. 10th @ 1:30pm
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts
Ricketson Theatre (Helen Bonfils Theater Complex)
Scenic Design by David M. Barber
Costume Design by Leah

Plot: A small town arts council has $20,000 to award to a local artist with an “under-represented American voice.” Should they choose the teacher/painter of modest talent or the self-taught artist who creates religious figures out of trash? This comedy explores how gossip, politics and opinions of art can decide who is the most deserving.


Community Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner – Denver, CO

Photo: Charles Schulz
Photo: Charles Schulz

We, at Rose Garden Instruction & Training, LLC / American Renaissance, are seeking HELPERS for our Community Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner on Thursday, November 28, 2013 @ Thomas Bean Towers (2350 Cleveland, Denver, CO 80205). We will be serving from 10AM to Noon, and our goal is to SERVE 30-40 Elderly / Working “poor” / Homeless individuals this year.

We need:
1. Servers,
2. Setup/Clean Techs,
3. Cooks, and
4. Donations

Thomas Bean Towers Map:

This is an excellent opportunity to LOVE, HELP, and UPLIFT our fellow brothers and sisters. It is also an excellent opportunity to break bread with friends, families, and fellow beautiful Souls. People are hurting, and need help. Let’s share the gifts that God has given us, put our humble resources together, and feed some folks. I know you will rise to the challenge.

Many thanks to Phaedra High and Thomas Bean Towers for hosting the Potluck, and VERY SPECIAL THANKS to: Camille R.M. Ridley, Stero Lion, Nan Kushel, Shannon Peterson, Noble Wealer, LilFresh Sam, Jazmin Aguiar & Kalina Ross for accepting the call in this shared experience. Love and God’s Blessings to you all.

It is SO AWESOME to see our Denver Artist Community come together for something bigger than “us” – restoring my Faith.

*Note – we still have slots available, so feel free to join us if the Spirit moves you. Inbox me.

-Nik Ridley -or-
Phone: (720) 378-8926

Video: American Renaissance

This is a short “montage” highlighting our American Renaissance project this summer. It incorporates photography, music, video, painting, and editing. Though extremely modest, it shows what can be achieved with a cell phone, digital camera and basic editing software. Nonetheless, it is mad cool! Enjoy 🙂 -NR

We Play How We Practice

Photo: Nik Ridley
Photo: Nik Ridley

Our job is to create. Not just anything, but something that builds on our portfolio or project. This requires focus and discipline, and a commitment to achieving an overall goal. Additionally, what we create should have an overall theme, and not a menagerie of randomness.

The one thing that a 9-to-5 has to offer is that there are clearly defined objectives; responsibilities that are meted out in the form of a job description upon hire. This gives us parameters and a framework, making us accountable and allowing us to track our progress.


Now, I understand that we swore off working a job that doesn’t fulfill us, but that doesn’t mean that the fundamentals I mentioned are not…fundamental. No matter what the medium is (or how we work our endeavors), our success depends on focused, trackable outcomes. In other words, we have to produce. Consistently.

There is an old saying that we “play how we practice.” What this means for us, as Artists, is that we should be sketching, writing, dancing, painting, singing, performing, and rehearsing, every day. Home-runs aren’t hit with every swing, and masterpieces take time to develop, but there is no excuse to not swing.  Remember, we play how we practice.

-Nik Ridley

Go For It


Taking chances. Believing in yourself. Going for it. We hear these things all the time as it relates to achieving our goals and fulfilling our dreams. But what does it all truly mean?

1. Size up the circumstances, and make an educated guess to the outcome.

We cannot tell the future, but we can make intelligent calculations as to what COULD happen.

2. Make connections with people BEFORE you need them.

Chances for success increase exponentially when connections are deeper than a business card, or a chance meeting at a bar. Get to know a person, before you have an agenda – caring still goes a long way.

3. Assess what you are willing to lose, to get what you want.

Everything costs. Time. Money. Energy. Muscle. No matter what, you will have to give, to get. The question is: what are you willing to sacrifice to obtain your goal? The answer to this question is, in my opinion, the best indicator to what you will, or will not, achieve.

4. Have patience, and execute quickly.

Haste makes waste, and opportunities don’t wait for anyone, either. There is an art to knowing the precise moment to execute a plan, and those who master this art never go hungry. Granted, it takes time, but once you get the rhythm, you will be unstoppable!

5. Maintain a pleasant disposition.

We stand in the way of our own success. No person or circumstance can stop you (within reason, of course). Life truly is 98% attitude, and 2% circumstance. Being pleasant, and a general pleasure to be around is infectious – of course, if you are sincere. Everyone wants to feel good. Be a catalyst, and success will beat a path to your doorstep.

– Nik Ridley (09-03-13)

Starving Artist (Keep Swimming)

You barely have money for rent AND food. You don’t own a car because it’s too expensive. You live with your girlfriend/boyfriend who, at one time, adored you for your talent, but is starting to get over it. You haven’t bought any new clothing (thrift store doesn’t count – and neither does socks and tee-shirts) in over a year. And even more embarrassing, you have recycled the limited wardrobe you DO have enough times to beat the band. You survive off staple crops (usually of the dried persuasion) and tell yourself that, by enduring all of the above, you are preparing yourself for unimaginable success. And you are. You also, are an artist (or a graduate student).

We trade our most prized possessions to create. Sacrifice our comforts and relationships. Deny ourselves the very things that society tells us we need to be complete, normal, and/or responsible. And this is why most people think we are crazy. It is difficult to understand why anyone would go through so much uncertainty in life, in order to paint, write songs, act on stage, or dance. Who would WILLINGLY starve to achieve something that will feel as if the world was a better place from doing so? I mean, they (the observers) DID say they liked it, right? Points for Gandhi.


All I can say is that the “starving” aspect of artistry is a prerequisite, a weed out, even. It separates the purist from the hobbyist. There are plenty of people that can install tile, but few who get the designation of a tradesman. Our “starving” teaches us resourcefulness, fosters attention to detail, hones our social skills, and increases our ability to create with very little at our disposal. The “starving” keeps us honest and ensures that we are being true to ourselves, and truly loving what we do. It also shows us who, and where, our true support systems are located.

And when it comes to Loving something/one, I think Gladys Knight and The Pips sang it best in the song, Midnight Train to Georgia: “I’d rather live in his world, than live without him, in mine.” And for the record, whoever truly loves you, will only encourage you to keep going at it. In fact, your struggle and fortitude will ENDEAR them to you even more. Anything less and it drains your spirit (read: art).

And what’s beautiful is that, no matter what, you won’t be alone. Ever. You are an artist, and bees are attracted to the most beautiful flowers. Keep blooming.

– Nik Ridley

Art in Education

I go to my studio every day, because one day I may go and the Angel will be there. What if I don’t go and the Angel came?” -Philip Guston

We desperately need Art re-instituted in our schools. Our youth do not have many positive outlets to express themselves, other than through video games, social media, webcams or text/instant messages.

The art of communication is dwindling at an alarming rate, evidenced by the lack of proficiency in writing (both analytic and creative) and increasing deficiencies in social skills. What this all shakes down to is: our youth have issues expressing themselves.

When a kid totes a gun to school, he/she is sending a *message*.  When a kid assumes the role of “bully” in school, he/she is sending a message. When a kid refuses to do what is required academically, yet has the ability to do well, he/she is sending a message. This, for me, begs the question: Are we providing an outlet for our youth to express the “who, what, when, where, and why” of it all?


I have witnessed firsthand the preventative power of Art when I was a facilitator for Art From Ashes, in Denver, Colorado. It’s founder, Catherine O’Neil Thorne created a brilliant writing program targeting undeserved kids with mental and behavioral health issues. It was truly magical. In fact, the youth at Columbine High School (after the shooting) was my first assignment in Denver (Kate, you are an angel).

Another powerful example of Art as a vehicle for positive expression was my tenure at Urban Peak (also known as “The Spot” – founded by former Denver Bronco, Dave Deforest-Stalls). Urban Peak/The Spot is a homeless youth drop-in center that provides a myriad of services to kids living on the street. From the “gang-banger” to the “Meth-head”, UP/The Spot utilized break-dancing, music production, video editing, graphic design, photography, and DJ’ing to allow a safe space for kids to express themselves. More importantly, and impressively, the youth crime rate declined.

I know what Art has done, and continues to do for me. To be honest, I would probably be dead if it was not introduced to me when I was younger. I was that kid. I know its power to transform and transcend.

Art heals. Let’s allow it too. Our youth are worth it. -NR

Embrace Your Strange

Steve Jobs was weird. Sammy Davis, Jr. was “out there.” Frida Kahlo danced to the beat of a different drummer. Gandhi was cut from a different cloth. Einstein, I am sure, was considered a bit “off” – to say the least. Even Jesus was called crazy. But there is one common thread that holds them all together: Brilliance.

Young Steve Jobs (1)
Steve Jobs

This entry is an invitation to Embrace the Strange. You know, the weirdo, as my mother would call us – and yes, I am strange too. And what many see as “quirks,” I see as a different perspective. What are coined as “dreams,” I merely see as new opportunities. So if that shakes me down to being “strange,” I embrace it with open arms.

Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo

From my survey of history, and observation of “great” people who have contributed to humanity in profound ways, the “strange” among us lead the pack. Whether from humble status, such as Van Gogh, or immense wealth, as in a Howard Hughes, the strangeness that they were to be known by was the very catalyst for their Brilliance. They embraced new opportunities. Their quirks bent their lenses to see new perspectives. But the animating agent that allowed this all to manifest was their willingness to embrace it.

Albert Einstein

As I see it, now, more than ever, the world needs “strange.” A new perspective. A creative, quirky outlook to mend so much that is broken. We need an alternate reality, a funky color palette – an outlet to be responsibly weird. The calculated, codified, and predictable existence has run its course, and judging by the fruit it has borne, it hasn’t worked too well.

Sammy Davis, Jr.
Sammy Davis, Jr.

Embrace the strange, and stand among greatness. – NR (August 08, 2013)

Enter: The Cool

There comes a point in an Artist’s life where s/he is in a “Zone”…I name it “The Cool” (or, TC). When one is in TC, things just come to him/her like a magnet – great things even, and negativity becomes metaphorical to dogs barking behind rusty fences. As long as you don’t pay the barking (or the dog) attention, one stays in The Cool.

Basquiat, Chow, & Warhol

You see, Badu was brutally honest when she said that she was sensitive about her “stuff” (read: her Art). And we artists are no different. But when we are in TC, it wouldn’t matter if someone yelled, “I’d rather drink pureed reptile eyeballs, than buy your work”, because we know we are in sync with a rhythm, a knowing that our Art is otherworldly. And when we are in TC, it truly is.

Bob Fosse
Bob Fosse

Great Art happens when s/he doesn’t care about what anyone thinks, within the parameters of tact and basic decency, of course. Critics. Friends. Mother. Husband. Kids. Mentors. Whoever , for it doesn’t matter, because when we allow ourselves to be in TC, it is likened to Maslow’s “Self-Actualization.” We are living our true, mature, authentic Selves.

Miles Davis
Miles Davis

I say all of this because we are sensitive about our work. What people say, how they approach us, and the environment me share with loved ones, have a profound effect on us and our output. And it is not until we truly turn a blind eye to what “others” think, has to say, or approaches what we DO (which is an expression of who we ARE), will we be in The Cool. Moral: Close your eyes and ears to find your masterpiece.

– NR (8/7/13)

Exhibit Photos: American Renaissance (August 03, 2013) @ CaTP (Denver, CO)

Here are some photos from our August 3rd, 2013, AMERICAN RENAISSANCE Art+Fashion exhibit. Special thanks to Kate Dykes, for an awesome collaboration, Camille Rose Marie (Fashion Manager), Clothes Minded (Wardrobe), Coffee at the Point (Venue), Models: Dominique Sample, Aurora Padilla, and Tina White, Dax Oliver (Vocalist), and Judy Weaver (Santa Fe Arts District) for participating! -NR

Nik Ridley+KateDykes

Joint Exhibition w/Kate Dykes (Saturday, August 3rd - Denver, CO)
Joint Exhibition w/Kate Dykes (Saturday, August 3rd – Denver, CO)


Exhibit Photos: American Renaissance (July 05, 2013) @ FlippNStudios (Denver, CO)

VIDEO: “American Renaissance” Art Installation (Photo Gallery is below Video) by Nik Ridley & Camille Rose Marie

July 5th @ FLIPPNSTUDIOS (RiNo Arts District).
“American Renaissance” Art Installation
(w/original VISUALS+RUNWAY:FASHION) by Nik Ridley & Camille Rose Marie
Rose Garden Instruction & Training, LLC

Inspirations + Affirmations

Photo: Nik Ridley
Photo: Nik Ridley

Sometimes, we artists need some affirmations and inspirations to keep us focused, encouraged, and not feel like we are crazy (a big ‘ole LOL inserted here)! Well, here are the ones that inspire me the most: (source:

  • “If a man devotes himself to art, much evil is avoided that happens otherwise if one is idle.” Albrecht Durer
  • “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” Pablo Picasso
  • “I wish they would only take me as I am.” Vincent Van Gogh
  • “Painting is the grandchild of nature. It is related to God.” Rembrandt
  • “Art is never finished, only abandoned” Leonardo Da Vinci
  • “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” Kurt Vonnegut
  • “It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academic-ism  There is no such thing as good painting about nothing.” Mark Rothko
  • “Art, Undeniably, is conductive to happiness.” unknown
  • “Love always brings difficulties, that is true, but the good side of it is that it gives energy.” Vincent Van Gogh
  • “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Pablo Picasso
  • “Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.” Andy Warhol

Designer:Dreamer – Brandi Shigley

I had the supreme pleasure of meeting Designer/Dreamer Brandi Shigley, Founder of Fashion Denver. It was mad impromptu, but she graciously showed me around her studio as we had a quick chat. I caught her chatting about..well….knitting (and she has a band too). Check her out..PHENOM!

About Brandi (in her own words)…
I am a semi-retired handbag designer, entrepreneur of 13 years, founder of Fashion Denver, singer & songwriter in b.sue, bicycle rider, rollerskater, walker, traveler, adventerizer, fashion lover, thrift store shopper, documenter, and lover of loving love.

I am working on creating a life where I can do all the things I love to do and be around people that inspire. One of my goals is to teach my Do What You Love, Love What You Do workshop all over while simultaneously playing little b.sue shows along the way.


On Creativity

INNOVATION is borne of beans and rice…working with what one has – which is never enough…a healthy blindness…a willingness to kick “safety” to the curb…the boldness to BE oneself…the patience to bear the haters, idiots, and dream-chasers in life (and yes, they will be close friends and family too)…and the strength to part ways with them.

INNOVATION is guts…not being married to “knowing” everything, all the time…it is not a weekly paycheck…it is not for the weak, either…it is not for the quitter. INNOVATION IS THE DOMAIN OF THE COURAGEOUS.

– NR