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Shadow & Light : Despite Tragedy, Raverro Stinnett’s Work Remains Untouchable

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Art is subjective, creative professionals say. Here’s something else they say in the metro area: Raverro Stinnett may be Colorado’s best unknown artist.

“While everybody’s rushing around and talking very fast, Raverro always seems to be calm and collected,” said Laura Merage, founder of RedLine Contemporary Art Center. “That’s what I get out of his delicate sculptures. On the other hand, his portraits are very expressive, not only in the colors he chooses but in the faces. I feel he’s channeling himself in these pieces.”

Stinnett’s subject matter defies pat thematic unity, from achingly detailed portraits of civil rights-era icons to experimental, closeup photography. So does his breadth of media, including watercolors, graphite, 3-D digital modeling and handcrafted paper sculptures. But it always comes back to simple, direct emotion.

“His work speaks to our very humanity inmultiple ways,” said J.C. Futrell, an arts educator and poet who also goes by the name Panama Soweto. “His pointillist portrait of Malcolm X is one of my favorite things ever. It’s this incredible piece with Sharpie, and it’s as realistic as you’d see in a photograph.”

Prolific and determined, 52- year-old Stinnett has also seen his work snapped up by private collectors who care less about name recognition and more about quality and inspiration.

“He’s sold a ton of those 3-D paper sculptures, these things with a really abstract look,” said Thomas “Detour” Evans, an internationally known Denver painter. “I actually collaborated on one with him and painted on top of it to give it this pop of color. … For him, the sky was the limit. He was on his way to really standing out in the art field, doing his own shows and selling more work.”

But on April 20, 2018, that all changed.

There is no way to talk about Stinett’s art without acknowledging a harsh reality.

A little more than two years ago, Stinnett was sitting at Union Station after attending an art gala. Like thousands of others downtown that night, he’d had a few drinks and was availing himself of public transportation. It was just after midnight.

Guards from Allied Universal Security Services, the firm that Union Station employs, wouldn’t leave him alone.

“Though Mr. Stinnett was simply waiting for his train, he was caught up in RTD and Allied’s systematic campaign to target the homeless and communities of color for increased scrutiny and harassment,” said Felipe Bohnet-Gomez, one of Stinnett’s attorneys at Denver’s Rathod Mohamedbhai law firm.

It doesn’t matter that Stinnett was dressed well, that he wasn’t causing trouble, or that he moved seats and areas continuously to avoid the guards who he says stalked him — all of which can be seen in RTD’s security camera footage. It doesn’t matter that he’s Black.

What matters is that he’s a human being.

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