Local creator, artist, snowboarder and designer Pat Milbery sat down with the Rapids to talk all things art, inspiration, and good vibes last week in anticipation of unveiling his first work in collaboration with the club in 2022. His first mural, adorning the northwest wall of the stadium, was finished on Sunday night inside DICK’S Sporting Goods Park during the Rapids' victory over Seattle Sounders thanks to support from adidas and Athlete Ally.

Where are you originally from?

My birth certificate says St. Paul, Minnesota, but don't feel like I'm from here, like the planet in a sense. A little bit of Mars maybe, slightly orbiting Jupiter a little bit, sometimes on Saturn. But I was born in the Midwest and in the really, really nice and beautiful small town of St. Paul, Minnesota. And I got my first taste of Colorado when I was 14 and instantly was hooked in from the mountains and the energy of the space. I knew I needed to be in the mountains at some point. And so I've been out here 21 years now in Colorado.

What called you to become an artist?

I grew up with a really supportive mother and father. I look back at it as a major blessing as far as my parents and how supportive and encouraging they were, for me to listen to my heart and really be able to acknowledge what makes us happy. Growing up, I've always taken a little different path, just a different journey. Traveling down paths that are a little less traveled, really got hooked in by the counterculture mentality of arts and music and individuality and just being yourself. Once I started involving myself with drawing and painting and creating and different mediums and media, I think what it did was open my imagination up to so many different possibilities of what things can become. And it allowed me to just see this different world of the album art and how influential vinyl albums and compact discs and cassette tapes and posters for shows, skateboard graphics and snowboard graphics, tennis shoes and how this culture was really forming a perspective of individuality, but of just the human imagination.

How do you relate to “Soccer For All” and this project for Pride?

I always remember growing up and being very aware of how kind and accepting my mom was of people, but also the energy that she was contributing in a lot of optimistic and positive ways to both my life, my sister's life, and my dad’s, but also to our friends and to our community. What I started noticing was how important energy is in our everyday lives, to just live in the moments rather than being stuck. If you're stuck in the past on something in regret or something you wish you could have done better, or just guilt tripping yourself about whatever else, you're gonna really miss out on these moments of life that you should be celebrating. I think those lessons growing up, mixed with some really, really challenging times as a teenager, made me realize how important and how lucky every day of life is. My mom passed away 17 years ago from cancer and things got realer than they ever were. You start realizing if you can help contribute to this world and add something to someone's life every day in a positive way, it can really make a major difference in what you can contribute to the world rather than what you can take or what you can be complaining about and wasting a lot of energy that you could be doing better things with it. And I started trying to adapt to that motto. This project has been a while in the making.

Colorado Rapids x Pat Milbery Pride Mural 
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What has the creative process been like here at DICK’S?

I've been out here for a few site visits and looking at different possibilities and imagining canvases, but my first day [creating] was a 22 hour day, and then the next day was close to 15 hours after a nice quick night's rest. I'll be using approximately 80 to 90 cans of aerosol spray paint and probably over 50 colors.

What’s your connection to soccer?

I played a lot of soccer growing up, I love soccer. I haven't played organized soccer or in many matches, but anywhere I go to paint like I always keep my eyes open. Like when I was in Miami a couple months ago I saw a little turf game going on at like 10 o'clock at night and whatnot.

How did this project come about and what was your initial reaction to being approached to do this with the Rapids and adidas?

It was humbling to say the least. I've worked with the Rapids on some untraditional things in the past, which were really fun. So we have a little history that we've been building upon. And the Pride initiative is really, really important to me, so for this project, hopefully it will touch on a responsibility to be respectful of one's decisions and who they are, but also just just appreciate someone for who they are, rather than placing a judgment on them. I think it's a really massive initiative that Adidas is stepping up to be a part of this project and supporting this on an MLS level because to my knowledge, there's never been a stadium that's done a giant piece of art during the match permanently next to their field. And so it feels not only really innovative, but it feels like it's going to start setting a different tone for expression and acceptance in the stadium for people to just be who they are. I think it's going to set a new precedent to what energy they're hoping to build and develop within this community and for the stadium, which is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

What were some of the inspirational elements that contributed to the mural’s design?

It's really focused on the golden glow of the light inside of us that should be radiating out of our hearts. So this heart that I'm painting was specifically designed for the Rapids. And so it has elements of other hearts that I paint around the city, but this one's kind of suggesting to look within and keep feeling the strength you have within rather than looking outside for. But then it kind of takes you through a journey of elements of design that suggests like rapids, Colorado inspiration of how vibrant our culture is, and how colorful the state is from how bright the blue skies are, along with sunsets, which to me are some of my favorite and most magical moments of the day. So this piece is inspired by a bigger piece to come and so it's kinda like a step in a direction we're heading with something that's really special we've been working on and I hope it brings a lot of happiness and smiles and love to the stadium.

What’s your hope for this mural and what it can mean to people who come to the stadium?

I really hope this piece can bring an energy in for the staff, everyone that works here, and then obviously for the thousands of fans, the players every day when they're practicing. When they walk out of that tunnel and look to the left they see this heart and this radiating energy coming from the heart. It's just like a reminder to put your heart right out there on that field, which I think is a good omen that will hopefully help the club come more together and bring more love to the stadium as well, which can be a powerful thing.

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