Soul Poles’ LTD Artist, R. Nelson Parrish, featured in C Magazine

posted by in soul brothers on Jul 22, 2014 . 0 comments.

Using Color Theory, Soul Poles LTD artist, R. Nelson Parrish tells stories drawn from personal experience skiing, surfing and auto racing.  Vibrantly colorful objects of resin, pigmented resin, racing stripes, wood, bamboo and fiberglass are his mediums.  This hybrid of painting and sculpture redefine Soul Poles’ LTD as more than a ski pole; it is a moment of clarity in a world of chaos.  Read on to learn more about R. Nelson’s recent escapades from Jenny Murray of C Magazine

PC: Mike Schirf

Interview by C Magazine's Editor, Jenny Murray in July, 2014


Santa Barbara artist R. Nelson Parrish is a born narrator.  Reared in Alaska, he now tells tales through wood and bio-resin totems.

What’s your relationship to color?

I try to translate experience through the language of color. In the end, I want to be a storyteller, but normal words and phrases just never did enough to capture what I was trying to convey. Color did.

And why totems?

A lot of reasons. Totems are so referential to my home [Alaska]. First, they were decorative; then, became this sort of heritage lineage. On top of that they have these historical stories that are almost always in reference to man’s interaction with the land: How did we get fire? How did the moon come up? Then it occurred to me that when you stuck something tall and skinny in the ground, it looked like a totem. So you take a surfboard, it’s a totem. You take skis, it’s a totem. It’s a story of that object. They are portraits of experiences, but at the same time, they’re portraits of the landscape or of a person.

You use materials such as wood, bio-resin, pigments, acrylic, filament, thread, automotive paint, sign painter’s paint…
They’re like notes. You’ve got to have the right notes.

PC: Mike Schirf

What’s your philosophy?

I really think about making work that is long lasting, not only in fabrication but also in impact. My dad has a phrase which is, “overkill is underrated.” So everything is built solid, like the Hoover Dam. And the craftsmanship has to be perfect. A Ferrari or a Maserati or a Hermès handbag—I consider those items as competition.


You’ve worked in photography, video, painting, got a BFA followed by an MFA at UCSB, had a stint working On capitol Hill, even went back to Alaska for a year to be a welder. When did you devote yourself to art?

I was living a cowboy country song: got fired, girlfriend left me, my dog got epilepsy, car blew up. It’s just like, what else could go wrong? I’m gonna give being an artist another shot, one more time. This was five years ago. I literally was down to my last $50, put everything into this solo show at Cabana Home. And then it just so happens that opening night was the night of the Jesusita Fire. All of Santa Barbara is engulfed in flames. Nobody showed up. And my parents were like, “OK, kid. The dream is done. We’re buying you a one-way ticket home.” So I’m just dragging my feet. And then I get this call from the gallery owner on the last day of the show: Rob Lowe came in and bought 70 percent of the collection. And then randomly I did the guitar [on top of the Roxy Theatre]. I got a solo show in a museum in Park City; John Legend happened to buy a piece. That was last year. You keep making and suddenly people buy stuff.

What’s next?

I really want to start my next body of work, to explore the idea of activity in space, vastness. I want to work with same color on same color. I think a whole series of white on white on white can be on totems, big wall works. I think it’s very impactful in this day and age, where everything kind of seems crowded and with cellphones and we just need to unplug. We have time, we have space, and it’s a lot bigger than we actually think it is.….

For more from Jenny Murray and C Magazine visit

tags: Soul Poles, LTD, R Nelson Parrish, C Magazine, Color Theorylast update: Jul 22, 2014


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