Evergreen is literally brimming with gifted and giving folks that many consider the backbone of the community. Chris Krieg is one of those citizens and has been awarding the town with his works of art since he moved here in 1989. Growing up in Oakland, California, he had often dreamed of living in a remote area, far from the industry and urbanization of the big city. But it wasn’t until he met his wife, Susan that he held the notion seriously and headed to Colorado.
Chris began working in the late 60s when he was just a teen, earning 50 cents an hour laboring in a carnation nursery there on the East Bay. Beyond that, he says that he always had an aptitude for painting; and within a few years after graduating from high school, he knew what he wanted and who he wanted to be. But, first came travel, so he hopped a boat out of San Francisco and journeyed about, earning money along the way by painting signs.
It was during this time that outdoor billboard advertising flourished and Chris remembers becoming engrossed in the art of advertising and painting on grand scale. Of course, this was long before computer graphics, so all his work was done freehand.
When Chris returned to California he was ready to explore his talents even further. He ended up enrolling at Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles where he learned the art of illustration. He confesses that he was never a great student and spent no time entertaining thoughts of attending a general university. Chris says that was the smartest move he ever made, for it afforded him the opportunity to break into his life’s career early on. And did he break in! This young man ended up with an impressive portfolio of self-photos and sent them to an agent there in LA. Eventually he was hired as both a fashion shot and runway model in LA, Europe and New York.
It was in 1981 when this artist moved to New York City and continued to model while painting billboards in between. He says the jobs were “rough” and he soon grew tired of the pace. After thousands upon thousands of wall signs had been painted, a good friend approached him and together they created a magazine called “Trucks.” Although he was the managing editor of the publication, he also sold advertising. Photography was his specialty; and after a few years of hard work he wore out his Nikon camera completely, got married and began the search for a better life.
Just after moving to Evergreen, Chris opened a sign shop called Evergreen Signs and enjoyed its immediate success. But it didn’t last, as the oil industry on the Western Slope collapsed, and he was forced to return to billboard painting again. This time he extended his business to six different states and headed up teams of painters; sometimes as many as ten. He painted in Denver, too, and in 1999 he was celebrated on the front cover of the Denver Post, which acknowledged his craft and excellence.
He continued his Denver presence until 2012 when he returned full-time to the studio he had created at his home and began to pursue the art career he had always wanted. It is within these walls that Chris has settled into painting pictures. And, too, he especially enjoys depicting a scene through murals on the sides of buildings and elsewhere when he gets a chance.
Of course this talented artist did not rise to his professional level all on his own. He says that he believed in soliciting advice from others, and always remained poised to learn whatever he could. He holds his mentors and friends close to his heart and subscribes to the theory that “they are all my best friends.” Indeed, Chris is a dedicated giver and holds fast to the notion to always pay kindness forward whenever possible. Over the years he has donated a plethora of signs, paintings, and time to the community and continues to do so until this day.
And what about his free time? Chris coached West Jefferson Middle School baseball for a number of years; he was a member of the Evergreen Downtown Business Association and joined the Chamber of Commerce, always remaining central within the community. He sold Evergreen Signs a couple of years ago, but he continues to create, working up to 30 hours a week in the studio that stands adjacent to his house. He is an avid cyclist and diligent about maintaining his good health.
That said, he and his wife, Susan, do travel a great deal; and he says the Pacific Northwest will be hosting them sometime in the near future. In the mean time, he is waiting for a chance to paint another mural and has high hopes that the opportunity will soon present itself. So, stay alert for any sign that dresses up this town, it just might be a Chris Krieg masterpiece.