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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Brushes and Boughs

Colorado Artist Brings Unique Art to the Arizona Biltmore

By Angel Fuchs

Colorado artist Curtis Killorn truly sees the beauty in everything – even dead trees.

Originally from California, Killorn moved to Colorado in 1987 to attend art school at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design.

“I’m all over the board as an artist,” Killorn said. “Graphic design, painting, murals, sculptures. Everything I do is repurposed; I haven’t bought a canvas in years.”

Living in Colorado, Killorn embraces mountain life and loves exploring the hills of Salida, the small town he calls home. Up in those mountains, he feels inspired to create. Using biodegradable paint, Killorn began painting dead trees in 2003, adding his special brand of flare and vibrancy to the rugged Colorado landscape.

“I’ve always felt connected to nature, particularly trees. They have character, and they speak to me” he said. “I wanted to bring these dead trees back to life. I painted the trees anonymously, and nobody knew who was doing it. People would ask me if I had seen the painted trees up in the hills – they had no idea it was me. It was a mystery.”

“There was a group of ladies who held meditation classes around them,” he recounted.

Eventually the secret got out that Killorn was the mystery artist behind the painted trees. Soon, he found himself being hired to bring new life to expired trees in other parts of the country. In April 2022, the Arizona Biltmore commissioned him to paint three trees that had died on the grounds of the famed luxury resort.

“The drought had killed these huge trees and instead of cutting them down, they reached out to me,” he said. “What an opportunity!”

Those painted trees were so well received by guests and visitors that the resort invited Killorn back last month to paint two more. Stoic, statuesque, and massive in size, the trees presented a huge undertaking for the one-man Killorn crew. Painting the trees where they stand, he worked to create his masterpieces around various obstacles, sometimes perching on ladders and lifts to reach heights of up to 40 feet. The process for all of his tree projects involves a great deal of preparation, including the removal of the bark and sanding of the trunk. He uses only biodegradable materials, and he paints and seals the trees by hand. It’s a labor of love with truly beautiful results.

Killorn named his Arizona Biltmore painted tree art installation “Treasures in Heaven,” inspired by a favorite Bible verse, Matthew 6:19: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

For more information about Killorn and his art visit curtiskillorncreations.com


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