Artist of the Month exhibition: Adrian Collazo

Gallery on Main's "Artist of the Month" series continues with an exhibition of paintings, photography, and mixed-media pieces by Bound Brook, New Jersey-based artist Adrian Collazo, on view January 2 through 30. Admission is free, and the artist’s works are available for purchase. 

Meet the artist at a free opening reception on Saturday, January 5, 2019 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Born in Somerville and raised in Bound Brook, Collazo credits his grandfather with being his first inspiration for art. “Whenever he came to visit from Puerto Rico I would watch him paint,” says Collazo. “While painting he would share his vision, his strong faith and his great sense of humor. Many times I would ask him to draw characters I liked on paper and I would always be so amazed at his ‘superpowers’.”

Collazo describes his youth and young adulthood as a difficult time, marked by self-doubt and fear of failure. “Growing up, the world looked very different to me. I didn't speak much, socialize with others or sign up for any extracurricular activities. Every day was a challenge to stay focused throughout my school years. I drew a lot…and I daydreamed about being a successful artist, doing what I love most and making a living out of it.” 

At age 14 he got into graphic design and digital photo editing, then after graduating from high school he began studying visual communications at Katherine Gibbs Institute and later started photography, which he viewed as a hobby. But for a number of years, he says, “All of my ambition burning within was extinguished by fear. Fear of not being ‘accepted,’ fear of being ‘judged,’ fear of not being ‘good enough.’ I became my own worst enemy.”

In 2015, another artist in his family inspired him further: His cousin Jerome Gonzalez, who invited Collazo to watch him learn graffiti art at Terracycle in Trenton. “I took many photos of (Jerome) and others and was so amazed. His art and everyone else's were so inspiring to witness. He commissioned me to do some photography and videography for his book Pothole. I purchased a few cans of spray paint and started some canvas art. My love for art started building up as I painted more and did some more research on Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Vincent van Gogh and Henri Matisse. I picked a brush back up and found myself in early 2017 knowing this is what I was meant to do. Jerome gave me the strength and inspiration I needed to not only to be myself but to also establish something positive for my daughters.”

Sadly, during a 7-month period Collazo’s father passed away, he lost a job he had for 8 years, Jerome passed away, and he lost a woman he loved. He said, “Depression once again ruled my world, but this time I had a weapon that worked. Art became a necessity to get through rough times. The pain became more bearable since I was able to express myself…My goal is to always be a positive influence to others and inspire. Believe in yourself and push through all adversity.”