2017-11-01 / Arts & Entertainment

Juan Carlos Collada’s good omen

By Kathy O’Flinn

Juan Carlos Collada creates assemblages of butterflies. Juan Carlos Collada creates assemblages of butterflies. For Juan Carlos Collada, butterflies are a good omen. “When I see a butterfly, I always think it’s going to be a good day,” he said.

He remembers the huge butterfly his mother embroidered on his denim jacket. She knew how much he loved them. “I must have been 6 or 7 years old. It was the most beautiful thing. Unfortunately I don’t have it anymore but I can see it so clearly in my mind,” he said.

It was perhaps this memory that inspired him years later to create boxed panels of lifelike butterflies moving in graceful swarms. His partner, interior designer Jeffrey Fisher, had asked him to make something for a client for a huge foyer. Collada’s first attempt in 2015 was a remarkably successful and heralded seven-panel, 17.5-foot-long butterfly assemblage.

When people from Gardner Colby Gallery saw his butterflies, they asked him to design a series that later was exhibited at his first show in January 2017. Commissions followed and other galleries soon contacted him. Now he is represented in Dallas and Whistler, British Columbia, and several high-end stores.

“Flight of the Butterflies,” by Juan Carlos Collada “Flight of the Butterflies,” by Juan Carlos Collada For Collada, a former textile, lighting and furniture designer and fashion stylist, this is yet again another creative direction and he couldn’t be happier. “After all these years of thinking I may never make money as an artist, here I am. I feel like it’s a culmination of all the things I’ve done and all the places I’ve been,” he said.

His beautiful butterflies are hand made, of turkey and goose feathers mostly, in England, Australia and China. Some arrive already colored. Some he will paint. Most he will dip dye individually in various colors; then he will paint them with model enamel.

While the butterflies appear fragile, they are actually quite sturdy. Using a hammer, he nails each one individually, placing nails through the foam composite body and onto a linen-covered medium-density fiberboard or MDF. The angle of the nail determines the angle of the butterfly on the board. When he is done with the composition he covers it with two coats of UV varnish to protect it from fading, then places it in a museum-quality acrylic box.

Commissions have kept him busy while he prepares to embark on new work in a new medium. His new venture will be an assemblage displayed on panels containing a plethora of sea life made of real shells and small ceramic sculptures he has created suggesting coral and plants. Clearly, his butterflies have brought good days, with more to come.

To see more visit colladaart.com.

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