Art

#008 Supporting the Arts in Breckenridge with Becca Spiro of BreckCreate

BreckCreate

Colorado.FM Interview with Becca Spiro of BreckCreate

Thanks for tuning in to Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast.

In this episode, I had a chance to travel to Breckenridge to sit down and chat with Becca Spiro, Director of Learning and Engagement at Breckenridge Creative Arts, also known when you see their facilities and events walking around town as Breck Create.

If you have wandered around Breckenridge, you’ve probably seen the Breck Create buildings in the middle of town which include artist studios, a theatre, the Masonic Hall, and many more.

I was curious what they were up to so reached out to Becca, and she was kind enough to take some time to explain a little more about the history of Breck Create and what the organization’s role in the town is, and some of her favorite events that they put on – some well known and others maybe less so.

Online, you can find them at Breckcreate.org and on instagram @breckcreate.

And, of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to find them or anyone else we talk about in the show notes.

Alright, so here we go, my conversation with Becca Spiro of Breckenridge Creative Arts, or BreckCreate.

 


Subscribe to Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast – on iTunes


Selected Links from the Episode

Connect with BreckCreate:

Web: Breckcreate.org

Facebook or Instagram @breckcreate

 

Events:

Wave Festival

Dia De Los Muertos

Trail Mix

Breckenridge Music Festival

Breckenridge International Festival of Art (BIFA)

Unsilent Night

 

Artists:

Phil Klein

Nikki Pike

Michael McGillis

Craig Walsh

 

Other References:

Denver Art Museum

Breckenridge Tourism Office

Breckenridge Heritage Alliance

National Repertory Orchestra

Breckenridge Theater Company

 

Local Trails:

Moonstone Trail

Iowa Hill Trail

Blair Witch Trail

 


Related Episodes

Boulder Creative Collective

 


Transcript

Everyone Doug Stetzer here and thanks for tuning back into Colorado FM the Colorado podcast.

So the next few episodes are super fun since I was literally able to take the show on the road and go visit some amazing people and companies and organizations across Colorado.

My road trip took me to Breckenridge Crested Butte raise Silverton and a nice big loop some cool stops in between some of these places I’d never actually been to before so that was awesome. And in typical fall Colorado fashion had all the seasons started off with some snow. Rain warm sun by the end to some great mountain biking and hiking it was absolutely amazing.

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Anyway my first stop was in Breckenridge and I had a chance to sit down and chat with Becca Sphero the director of learning and engagement at Breckenridge Creative Arts also known. When you see their facilities and events and signs walking around town as Breck create.

Now if you are one around Breckenridge you’ve probably seen the brick buildings in the middle of town which include arder studios and theater the old Masonic Hall on the main drag there and many more other facilities there which they’ve really fixed up beautifully and so I was curious what they’re up to and reached out to Becca. She was kind enough to take some time. Explain a little more about the history of brique create what the organization’s role in the town is. Some of her favorite events that they put on which is really great insight because you know some of them are. They’re more well-known ones but also she really gets into some other maybe less known events that she really enjoys So that was really fun to learn about.

Online and you can find them at Breck create dot org. And also on Instagram at Brick create. And of course is always you know we’ll put all the relevant links to find them in the show notes as well as anyone else we speak with or mention or any other resources that are helpful. So all right here we go.

My conversation with Becca Spiro of Breckenridge creative arts or Breck create.

  1. Becca thank you for making some time. This is actually. Normally I start off by saying thanks for coming over to the studio but I am doing one of my first ones on location so thanks for having me. Yeah. Thanks for coming in Breckenridge creative arts. All right. So you know we were catching up a little bit just before we started. And

one of the things we were speaking about was that BCA is actually relatively young. It was founded in 2014. And why don’t you just fill us in on what was going on before that and what was that transition going on whether it’s in the arts scene in Breckenridge or the town that kind of precipitated the need for for putting all of these assets together under one roof under the BCA Sure.

So around 2001 the town started renovating what is now the Arts District and there are these buildings on Main Street in Washington. And they were in pretty bad shape like falling over. So a lot of money went into the renovations and those happened between 2001 2008 and then you know we had this beautiful arts district but these facilities you know didn’t have anyone to manage them. So that’s actually kind of how it came into being. As more of like these Yeah facility managers and you know yeah we were just charged with part of these organizational partners that would animate the spaces and then it was kind of like loose like we had this in your operating budget from the town and the it just grew from there. And so yes come a pretty long way since then.

Right. So that’s interesting. So it started off like actually your word used earlier was just the landlords they were starting to put together all of these buildings you know put money into renovating it.

There must have been some kind of master plan behind why they would create this art center in town and I guess a lot of ski towns do invest in that and do have that kind of history right. But I guess Brecht was trying to just take it out to another level.

Yeah I guess so. So he kind of designated in the renovation of the campus.

Each of the buildings was designated for different media. So we have a ceramics studio and a hot shop and a theater textiles and print making all of this on a color we are now is kind of our one of our exhibition spaces and so yeah we’re basically trying to create more of this cohesive arts district campus that people could come and offers an alternative tourism to what currently exists. So you know providing an opportunity are you continuing to provide an opportunity for locals like a center for the arts and culture but also for our visitors here are coming. And some people hoping you know hoping to draw more of that cultural tourism. But then also to draw in the tourists who are coming to ski or to bike. And they might stumble upon Breckenridge creative arts and end up having this wonderful experience. Sure

. It’s there’s a lot of ways to actually participate in that right. There’s a lot of classes and things like that they’re available to the public. I know every time I’ve come to town over the summer there’s been something going on here. Yes but you also do have these artisan residents and I was looking through some of their bio’s and it seems like my impression was that the majority are from Colorado but not necessarily from Colorado including you know some from Europe and all over the U.S.. I mean what is the kind of filter system there are you trying to just bring in a lot of different styles.

So we have two buildings on campus the Robert White House and the tin shop. And both of them have a multipurpose studio on the first floor and a fully furnished apartment on the second floor. And the actor actually applications for 2018 closed today. And we’re basically will fill the schedule in the months ahead for that year. And yeah really trying to create a balance between supporting local artists but then bringing in some international talent and we do the Robert White House is by invitation and that tin shop is by application so. And we do try to make it so it’s relevant with the festivals that we have. So you know we’re talking about before like our year round programming so we have classes on campus throughout the year and we produce four quarterly catalogues with that programming. But then we also have the annual festival also wave as in June and that’s like white light water and sound is the theme for wave.

And so we try to bring in artists who are working with environmental themes. Then Biff is our biggest festival. Brackenridge International Festival of art and it’s two weeks long. And you know that is an opportunity for us to bring in this international artists or you know just a more eclectic mix. So our next festival coming up is Dia de los Muertos So we currently have an exhibition on the lawn up by Ridge Street. And actually the back deck of old Masonic Hall called Last Trump was which means spinning tops in Spanish and the two artists Hector and Ignacio are from Mexico City and their work is also an exhibition right now at the Denver Museum. And similar work those Trump posts are inspired by traditional Mexican weaving.

And then the exhibition at the Denver Museum la cosa La Russa Adora is called and they’re rocking chairs that are place and like a one big line and you know that artwork is supposed to like create community bring people together and it’s very playful and fun. So you know Hector and Ignacio are not coming to do a residency unfortunately but that might be the kind of thing where we draw draw people in. So it’s you know the artwork that’s being exhibited is relevant to the programming that we’re doing. So yeah it’s really the residency program is great. It’s smaller than a lot of residences. You know there’s just two artist in residence at a given time. So we really try to engage them with the schools and bring them into the field trips into our teen programs have open houses three times a week and like one lecture demo or class once a week. So there are just lots of opportunities to engage with the public.

Yeah right. Well and speaking of all those events you know three openings a week and all this other stuff. Yeah. One of the things I noticed when I was doing some research is that your calendar is full. There is a lot of stuff kind of underneath the umbrella of BCA you know like he said it’s grown way beyond just managing the properties here and so on and on top of the kind of daily and weekly stuff there’s the larger festivals mostly throughout the summer and it’s just seems like it’s really busy you guys are keeping those town busy and I guess that’s kind of part of your charter that’s just one of the things that you are here to do. That’s why the city has engaged this organization to create that. But what are some of the challenges with keeping this calendar so full or.

Yeah. Well I mean really just keeping track is a big challenge like there is. Yeah. As you said something going on every weekend and we are fortunate to have you know some really strong cultural partners that Brackenridge tourism office the Breckenridge heritage Alliance the national repertory orchestra Breckenridge music festival Brackenridge theater company just to name a few. And so like working with them and collaborating instead of trying to compete is essential. We have a big event coming up in December that’s really exciting. We’re collaborating with the Breckenridge music festival and tourism office is called and silent night and day.

Yeah.

So every year the tourism office arranges lighting of the Christmas tree and the Blue River plaza and then there’s a really fun Santa raced down Main Street. And you know just different. Like Christmas holiday type events. And so we’re kind of jumping on that train. And we have this light and sound exhibition by this artist Phil Klein. And so it’s it’s a sound sculpture and the way it works is that people bring you some kind of sound device whether it’s like an old school boom box or like a phone or anything to play sound a speaker portable speaker. And then they can download one of four soundtracks and we all like it. It basically culminates in this 45 minute parade around town that’s a lot of noise really. So really fun. And just you know should be like a really great addition to the programming that already exists.

Sounds like something I should have bring my kids to. Yeah. Once you’re like oh you don’t have to be quiet. Yeah.

I mean with a lot of with our festivals wave and Beth Dia de los Muertos we really try to make it family friendly accessible you know and to different demographics in the county. And we’re kind of diving into that a little bit more with some of our program evaluation like who is coming to these events and like how can we get more people here. And you know it was just has been you know like when some were made some changes this year to make it a truly bilingual event. So we have the signs of her that say say Abla Espanol and you know we have facilitators who do speak Spanish and English obviously. So yeah I think those changes are really important to me. And yeah like accessibility on multiple levels is very important to us right now.

So out of all these these events these busy calendars do you have just an overall favorite. And then maybe also a lesser known one that’s kind of slipping under the radar that was amazing or unexpectedly amazing. You know that we should look out for the next time it comes around or yeah. Any any insight on.

I mean I do. I love our way of festival. It’s just you know we can take it as an opportunity to dig in some more dig into some more like intellectual themes so the artists that we had this year. Amanda prayer she is an Australian artist who lives in Tasmania now but in Australia rabbits are an invasive species. So her there her work this year is called intrude and there these giant inflatable rabbits that were all over town so she had multiple sizes the smallest ones were called nibbles and so for some people you know it’s just the spectacle of it like wow they’re the giant rabbits everywhere. For other people those like what is going on with these rabbits and then they dig a little deeper and you know find out about these environmental problems which is really neat. And you know we had collaborated with high country conservation and did a participatory sculpture in the plaza called Recycled rain.

And so over the course of the festival the sculpture grew and it was constructed out of a thousand water bottles from the recycling center. So I just yeah I think it’s a really fun event. It’s a neat time of year in early June like schools just laid out. And so it’s just a different festival and there’s really nothing like that going on in Colorado. And as far as you know projects that are lesser known I think you know this is such a small program but we’ve recently revamped some of the teen programs one of which is a service based project. So we just had the first one last month and the project was dog collars which we donated to summit the Summit County Animal Shelter.

So you know there’s the weather it’s like a large scale event like wave or something small with eight participants in the quandary antiques cabin. I think there’s room for all of that within the organization. And so it definitely keeps you on your toes and it’s it’s fun. Yeah every day is different.

That sounds amazing because it is fun to switch your mind from you know different types of projects and maybe one’s more organizational and those little ones a little more hands on and also ones maybe more international and focus on bringing in tourists and visitors and other ones are definitely way more geared towards the local community. So you really have a diverse kind of projects. It sounds like it would be a super fun job. Yeah yeah that’s great no complaints. Speaking of that we were we were speaking about this a little bit how you ended up here because that is definitely part of the story of all of these conversations that I’ve been having That’s really interesting is you know Choros just a great place to live. And it attracts people from all over we’re in. How did you end up here in Bracken with the BCA.

Yeah. So I was living in Memphis a couple of years ago teaching Spanish actually. And I had some friends who were moving out here to do ski patrol. And I thought like oh that’s cool job. So I came out here a couple of times and try it out and it worked out. And yeah ended up doing ski patrol here for two years in the summer I was working for the National Water leadership school guiding and my background had been in the arts. I had gone to graduate school for contemporary art and just having trouble finding your own job in the art scene.

And but yeah very coincidentally Brackenridge creative arts was getting off the ground when I moved back and moved to Breckenridge and I been keeping my eye on the organization.

You know I’d participated in some ceramics classes and just like dabbled a little bit and then I happened to see that there was a job opening and applied. And yeah it’s really been a dream dream job and to have this job here in Breckenridge is just ideal. So that’s pretty special. I still do volunteer patrol and yeah keep my EMT sir and everything.

So not exactly far away from. Just look across the street at my skis in my office. So it’s a powder day. It’s

like you know just going to take a little lunch break. So

I think that’s pretty well understood. Yeah yeah.

That’s awesome. So you know one of the things I like to ask people is you know if you had just a day off day to yourself and no agenda in your case I’d like to ask for McDonnell a couple of different perspectives which is one if you wanted to have just a real day what would you do where would you go would you go to Denver.

Are there things here that you don’t get to spend enough time with. Yeah.

I mean I think there are so many trails here. Forget how many miles of singletrack. But I always feel like you never get enough time outside. Some of the artwork that we produce like the Trail Mix series is out on the trails actually sought to get excused to get out there.

But tell us a little bit about the surprise. I have not yet heard that.

So the sculptures are as part of the Breckenridge International Festival of art. And every year there’s three different locations. Moonstone trail up by Carter Park and an Iowa Hill out on Airport Road and Illinois Gulch by the ice skating rink. And so it’s a collaboration with the Breckenridge music festival and we basically have a large scale sculpture at each of those sites and then three times every day. We have musicians come and play. So sometimes that’s you know just solo acoustic and sometimes it’s a string trio or quartet and it’s it really is in line with you know just the mentality of this town like this. You have to go out and you know hike there and and like discover it and we’ve worked a little bit you know signage has been tricky because we want people to be able to find it but not have it be too easy either. So

there’s no sign on the right turn here. Yeah yeah.

So you know we have some trail trail mix signs that are up during the festival just for a route finding so that you know the journey of getting there is not frustrating or confusing but it really is called trail mix because you love your art and your nature and music altogether. So it’s really become a popular event and we’ve been amazed. You know this past summer we had up to 40 people out there at the individual concerts and so to get you know that many people up like way up on a trail here is pretty fantastic. And yeah I think with the open space and trails here they’ve been you know wonderful and you know letting us use the spaces as well.

Zide Yeah because it has to be coordinated with the open space areas around here. That’s how fun.

Yeah definitely. Yeah it’s always there now.

It’s still up and actually you know the one out on Iowa Hill on airport road is by an artist named Nicky pike and it’s a giant spear made of wood chips and so we’re just going to you know leave it up and let it kind of let nature take its course. The one up on Moonstone is a giant pine beetle so actually has has wings the artist Michael McGillis welded these infrastructure for the wings and then put like a tarp like a tent material over that. And there’s three little cushion so you can sit in the body of the pine beetle. It was kind of fun. And then over on Illinois creek there are these like basically interlocking circles also made of wood. So it’s it’s almost always in a natural materials and biodegradable materials. We do de-install them at a certain point usually before it snows.

Yeah which I saw some on the way here and yes like it’s starting to happen. Yup. But. He so that’s so cool that’s just kind of embodies this whole place. I would guess as far as beauty you have art out on the trails. Yeah. Could

you go ride your bike or hike to it go find it and go find it. Like our campuses. I mean these buildings are so unique like their historic nature and the beautiful architecture and renovations involved. But it is limited and you know they’re smaller there they’re historic. So a lot of you know the fun that we have is finding the sites in town that will work for this like large scale spectacle artwork. So whether it’s giant inflatable rabbits or you know a light installation for before we just had Craig Walsh who was his United States premiere and he filmed two longstanding locals in the community and projected their faces up into the trees. But

you know we Craig spent a couple of days before the festival like choosing like well which trees are going to work. And you know whereas they’re less light pollution and you know all of those factors and you know you have these amazing artists here with the backdrop of the ten mile range you know you can’t beat it. Exactly

. And I know it’s it’s hard to pick favorites but are there. Do you have a favorite trail around here or is there a go to for you.

I think well you know I don’t mind like the first trail that I ever wrote because when I moved here it was only a road biker and you can’t not mountain bike here because it’s just the thing to do. So I was really terrified of mountain biking. And I went out and did the Blair Witch trail which I still think it’s one of my favorites and you know to make it longer you can do the red trail but it’s off of Tiger road driving out of town and Blair which is just yeah I think it’s gorgeous out there. And you can it really just takes 30 minutes to one loop so you know it’s not too committing. You just go out on your lunch break if you want to do it so you can go out on your property.

And then finally like the last thing I I like to ask people is who would you like to hear on this podcast. There’s so many people you can see a list afterwards. If you forget anyone one.

One person in town. Robin Pattee Theobald’s. They are. They’ve been like really big supporters of the arts.

They are behind the rock foundation which supports the 10 shop residency and Robbins a fifth generation Brackenridge local so called family. So you know what we get a lot of the time in the four years that I’ve been here like how this town’s changed so much and I’ve seen it happen in the four years. But you’ve got people who lived here 30 years ago 40 years ago. And so you know I think he’d be Pattie and be very interesting to interview just to hear about the nature of those changes and.

Yeah. I think that the Good the Bad and the ugly side.

Yeah sure. That’s really interesting. Yeah this whole states really changing and that’s one of the motivations behind this whole pikas is that there is really good amazing things happening but you know there’s a lot of balance and you know that needs to be achieved as well. So that would be certainly interesting perspective. Is

there anything else you wanted to mention that we missed come back for details Martos because. Will have an artist talk with Hector and Ignacio Akhtar will be here and his assistant Javier to talk about Trump.

And you can get your face painted. You can make some sugar skulls and paper flowers and we even have a community altar you can add momentos for loved ones and it’s really just a fun community event. So and when is that going to be. That is October 20th through the 22nd. That’s great. Yes.

  1. Well thank you so much for taking some time to chat with us. I really appreciate it. It’s been great to meet you and learn more about what’s going on out here. Thank you. All right thanks a lot.

All right thanks for listening and I hope you enjoyed this conversation. I really had a good time. As we mentioned in the intro you can find links to any related articles or content in the show notes to this podcast episode. If you’ve enjoyed this episode please subscribe to this guest on iTunes and leave a review if you have a few moments. If you prefer to get our updates via email or use a podcast service other than iTunes such as stitcher or Android you can learn more on how to subscribe at Colorado dot FM forward slash subscribe. Thanks again. I really hope you enjoy this episode and we will see you next time.

 


 

Featured Photo credit: Liam Doran, courtesy Breckenridge Creative Arts

 


 

#002 Boulder Creative Collective – Supporting Art and Artists in Boulder

Boulder Creative Collective on Colorado.FM, The Colorado Podcast

Hello everyone, and thank you for tuning in for this episode of the Colorado.FM podcast.  In this episode I will be speaking with Addrienne Amato and Kelly Russack of the Boulder Creative Collective, a home for art and community here in Boulder.

Our conversation ranges from the inspiration for starting the BCC to how it has evolved from a series of pop-up art exhibitions to the BCC Warehouse – a permanent exhibition space with studios for resident artists of all kinds – including writers, toymakers, all sorts of creatives.

Addrienne and Kelly offer their unique insight into the creative pulse of Boulder as well as their suggestions for engaging in the art scene around the state, but especially here in the front range.

Online, you can find them at bouldercreativecollective.com and on Instagram also @bouldercreativecollective.

 


Subscribe to Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast – on iTunes


Selected Links from the Episode

 


Show Notes

[1:25] From pop-ups to the BCC: Warehouse – the journey

[4:30] Sanitas Brewing

[8:00] Building an accessible, inclusive art community

[11:00] The BCC: Warehouse – a day in the life; the artists it has attracted

[14:30] The neighborhood – a community of artists, makers, eccentrics (and driving bulldozers!)

[18:45] Supporting the artists – Art On Loan program

[25:30] Where Addrienne and Kelly go to get inspired in the area

 


Transcript:

Colorado Podcast Episode with Boulder Creative Collective

 

Hello everyone, and thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Colorado.FM podcast. In this episode, I’ll be speaking with Addrienne Amato and Kelly Russack of the Boulder Creative Collective, a home for art community here in Boulder. Our conversation ranges from the inspiration for starting the BCC, to how it has evolved from a series of popup art exhibitions to the BCC warehouse, a permanent exhibition space for resident artists of all kinds, including writers, toy makers, and all sorts of creatives, not just visual artists.

Addrienne and Kelly offer their unique insight into the creative pulse of Boulder, as well as their suggestions for engaging the art scene around the state, but really especially here in the front range. Online, you can find them at bouldercreativecollective.com and on Instagram also, @bouldercreativecollective. So here we go, my conversation with Addrienne Amato and Kelly Russack of the Boulder Creative Collective.

Okay, Addrienne and Kelly, thank you so much for being here. As I said in the introduction, these are the two behind the Boulder Creative Collective, and they’re going to kind of take us through the story on how they got together, recognized a need for some new art influence in Boulder, so if you could just kind of take us through the journey. You started with pop-ups, ended up with a great warehouse. How did you get there?

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Addrienne Amato:

I think an important piece of the story is how this journey began, and probably how a lot of ideas in Boulder are created. We were actually hiking Sanitas, which is just in our backyard. We both live a walkable distance away from the mountains, so we were just on a hike one day, and were chatting about what we felt was missing, both having moved here from different locations. I was living in a bigger city, I was in Boston at the time. Kelly was in Park City, but we felt that Boulder was missing this essential part of our lives and daily experiences, and we felt like we needed to fill it and that’s how the idea for the pop-up began, and in the first two, was it? About two years that we did the pop-ups?

Kelly Russack:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Addrienne Amato:

We really focused on transforming people’s homes and unexpected places into a gallery-like or an event-like space, and we’d alter them drastically so they were very different from what they were. The very first pop-up we did was Kelly’s living room, but that one really ended up looking like a traditional gallery space in the end, and then from there … And I think in that very first one we also named the Boulder Creative Collective.

Kelly Russack:

We did.

Addrienne Amato:

Right? Yeah, I mean, that’s a name we’ve had since the very beginning that’s never changed, so we felt that really fit what we were trying to create and still think it fits today. Do you want to talk a little bit more about the journey beyond that? Beyond the pop-ups and sort of how we moved into the warehouse space?

Kelly Russack:

Sure. I would love to. So, we did three homes pop-ups and like Addrienne said, the first one was in my house, first floor, then the next one was in a garage and we painted it out and power washed it and buffed it so it was super inviting, and then the third was just a blowout at Addrienne’s and we were lucky enough to have an outdoor space to use because we had 200 people going through her home and so that was when we knew we had kind of outgrown the homes.

Speaker 1:

Gotcha.

Kelly Rusike:

Because who really wants 200 people going through their lives without-

Speaker 1:

But that’s amazing.

Kelly Russack:

Yeah. It was crazy. So we brainstormed and decided to reach out to our local business friends and asked … Well actually, rewind. We went public when we went to the Sanitas Brewing, and they had sponsored some beer for us for Addrienne’s event, and it was the first time that our art event was open to the public, because it was always nerve-wracking, just not knowing how many people are going to arrive and that was always definitely scary for me to let go of, because who knows? I mean, all walks of life, everyone’s invited, but then at the same time, you know, there are limitations. So, we had an event at Sanitas Brewing where we transformed their tank space, and we had freedom to do everything that we wanted.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Addrienne Amato:            Including using the scissor lift.

Kelly Russack:

The scissor lift, and then we needed more wall space because when we first saw the space, Michael, the owner, he walked us through and each time we went back the space got smaller and smaller, because his business was growing and all of a sudden he had this gigantic cooler. Luckily it had a magnetic metal that we could use to our benefit, so we hung artwork on the cooler and that was just really fun. That’s where people … It was more inclusive just because it was open to the public, so then … Because he didn’t close shop for us, so then we just got a lot of outsiders and interest.

Speaker 1:

Sure. And that’s kind of, from what I’ve been reading and just knowing you guys, that’s really one of your common themes and one of your motivations anyway, which is bringing art to more people and kind of getting it out there, so I’m sure that really fit with you as far as opening up, I guess, like you said, to outsiders.

Kelly Russack:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Speaker 1:

That’s awesome. Was the Sanitas connection something that you guys knew of? Was that just a good example of Boulder businesses supporting people, or is that … ?

Addrienne Amato:

I’m not really 100% certain how this all … How we met him. Did we just cold-call him?

Kelly Russack:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). A lot of how we operate at the BCC is under the motto, “What’s the worst that someone can say? No?” So I think I cold-called them and just said, “Hey we’re going to have an event. You want to give us two kegs for free?” They called back after a little bit of follow up and kept kind of bugging them. I think Michael, the owner, called back and we explained what we were doing, the idea of it, and they gave us, I believe, the equivalent of about two kegs, but they brought cases, so they came to my house, so that last home pop-up that we did and served beer and that was one of our biggest shows, so that was where we made the connection with Sanitas. I think it was really, we thought they has cool space, they had good beer. They were a little bit younger at the time, not as established, but a lot of people knew of the brewery, so it just ended up with a happy connection, and they were willing to help us out, and then that’s how we got that connection to do the pop-up in their space.

Speaker 1:

That’s excellent. I love that. One of the things you kind of mentioned, when you were first both had moved here from these other places that had more established and thriving art scenes I guess, were you surprised at the lack of support for the art scenes in Boulder? Because people tend to think of it as a real creative-type town. Were you surprised that there weren’t more people doing what you guys wanted to do when you got here?

Kelly Rusike:

Well, as we all know, Boulder has changed at a rapid rate, and so when Boulder was very different four years ago, seven, eight years ago, and so there were a lot of artists, but there were a lot of people doing a lot of different things, and it wasn’t a full community effort to make this cultural impact, and so people were out there, open studios, it’s been around forever.

NoBo art district … The city was on the verge of trying to create something, so things were around, but where did we belong and who did we connect to and with? And so when we were on our hike, that’s when the idea was born, that we wanted something that fit our lifestyle that invited us in, that we felt included, that all walks of life are not exclusive. We want everyone to enjoy art, so anytime people say, “Hey, I don’t have a babysitter, I don’t know if I can come to your opening” it’s half the reason we do what we do, is because our kids … we want our kids to be surrounded by art and culture, and so that’s a driving force as well. There were things happening and then now over the course of, what are we? Four years? Almost fours years?

Addrienne Amato:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Russack:

We’re all building these strong relationships with one another and supporting each other in openings and cross promotion, so it becomes a stronger network within the Boulder city and beyond.

Speaker 1:

Sure.

Kelly Russack:

Does that answer your question?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, that’s great. Definitely as you know, you’ll find my kids at your openings and event as well. It’s an awesome family experience, and like you said, not all … We take our kids to a lot of art places whether it feels welcome or not, we like to do that anyway, but you’re right, it doesn’t always necessarily feel welcome, like you’re just kind of forcing yourself in there anyway.

Addrienne Amato:

Right.

Speaker 1:

So it’s nice to actually go somewhere and just it is feeling like a family atmosphere and it is feeling like, not like a stuffy kind of environment, which is definitely not what you guys have. Take us to the warehouse. You got the new space, and I guess by new, couple years?

Kelly Russack:

Just over a year. Yeah, we’re just over a year old.

Speaker 1:

Okay, and you’ve got tenants in there who can rent space and they’re Boulder artists of a lot of different types? It’s not just visual artists, there’s a lot of different types of people in there and even other entrepreneurs, which I guess … Has that been a surprise to you guys? Is that what you’re going for, like a really diverse set of tenants? Is that just kind of what came to you? Take us through where you are now and what the warehouse … What’s going on a day in the life at the warehouse right now?

Addrienne Amato:

Well, we view the warehouse as not so much of a gallery and more of an alternative art space, and I think when you have alternative spaces, you attract alternative types of thinking people, whether they’re businesses … We have a toy maker in there, we have a paper maker in there, we have writers, we’ve had painters, we’ve had designers, what else have we had? Photographers.

We’ve had a whole list of different types of creative outlets working in there, and I think sort of the grounding force within all of the people that have rented from us is, they can see sort of the potential in not only the warehouse, but the area of Boulder that we’re in as well. It’s a little gritty, it’s a little off the beaten path, it’s a little less shiny than other parts of Boulder are becoming, a little unordered in that kind of chaotic sort of way that’s interesting and kind of breeds that sort of creative thinking, so I think that that’s something that attracts the kind of people that are coming to us.

I don’t know if that was really what we thought in the beginning. Maybe we thought it would be sort of based in fine arts and the type of work that we do, but we uphold that end of the work and the output that goes into the space, and then there’s all these different sort of genres and types of groups and organizations and creative thinkers coming into this space working, so it’s been a good eclectic bunch that we’ve had in there, lots of characters.

And also our neighboring businesses as well are quite full, character types. If you’ve ever come out to our warehouse, it’s never a boring day out there on the lower east side, as we like to call it. It definitely has its own kind of feel over there, and I don’t think there’s any other part of Boulder that sort of still has that kind of feel. It is connected. There are a lot of local businesses over there. It is still a little weird and funky and what I think Boulder used to be and what we hear that it used to be like maybe 10 years ago, 15 years ago, so there’s still some of that raw quality left when everything is coming in and kind of being built up and the market is what it is in Boulder, so I feel like we’ve got a special little niche out there.

Speaker 1:

Sure. No, that’s fantastic. I mean, it is a great space, and some of the other businesses in the area make a visit to the warehouse more than just that, like you’re visiting all the neighbors, you’re visiting the whole experience. We were speaking to this a little bit before we started here, some of the … Do you collaborate? Do you get a chance to kind of interact and get together with these neighboring business too much and maybe coordinate different events, or are you feeding off each other in ways that have been maybe unexpected when you moved into that space?

Kelly Russack:

Well, we haven’t collaborated per se, but it’s not that we’re not going to. You know, it’s just the timing needs to be right, but we have the Green Guru, which is next door to us. They have … It’s a bike shop, they design repurposed up-cycled bike accessories, like sacks and bags and things, and then they have a brewery in there, so a little boutique brewery, which is super convenient, because then people can come and view art and go grab a beer, and then we have a bunch of car guys, like Saab and Volvo and they’re test driving and trying to find the problem in the vehicle, so they like to holler and screech.

I think the fact that we’re not a mechanic and that we bring a different vibe to the warehouse, because the Green Guru guys have been there for like, 10 years, so when we were looking at the space, they were hoping that we would come in and stick around, because they weren’t … they wanted energy, and for us, they never really know what’s happening, like last week or two weeks ago, we had a big print event, so we decided to partner with another art group in town, Flatiron Press, and we rented a steamroller, a construction vehicle, and we womanized, manned, that vehicle, and drove it over planks of wood that were all inked up and made large prints, and the guys next door definitely came over as spectators, and I think they sent their customers over to come and see what we were up to on a Saturday afternoon.

Speaker 1:

Sure, just a regular day at the warehouse, driving bulldozers, making art.

Kelly Rusike:

Just a regular day, yeah, exactly.

Speaker 1:

With the beer and bike guys right next door. I love it.

Addrienne Amato:

There is one … I’d say the biggest collaboration with all the area businesses is we created a map for a lot of businesses that were east of 30th, south of Valmont and north of Pearl, so kind of over in that east side quadrant we went around to all of the local business that were doing really interesting things, that have been there for a long time, and put together a map so people could actually really visualize and see al of the stuff that is going on. There was Colorado School of Yoga, Truman Boot company, I don’t think … Did we put Sanitas-

Kelly Rusike:

Rowdy Mermaid is there.

Addrienne Amato:

Rowdy Mermaid, they make kombucha, so lots of various different interesting businesses, and a lot of businesses that people know of, including Green Guru, Rock and Resole, it’s a huge climbing town, so those guys have been down at the west end of the building as well, forever, so we all know we’re over there, and everyone that’s over there definitely likes it for a reason, so that’s been our biggest, I think, collaboration and connection, was we organized that map project so people could see what was happening on the other side of Boulder, so it’s kind of the opposite than the west end, we’ve got the gritty east end warehouse district.

 


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Speaker 1:

No, that’s awesome. Speaking of all those other businesses, tell us about some of the things that you’re doing specifically to support the businesses and artists that are in your warehouse, so beyond offering them a space to work, I know you’re doing lots of openings, you’re obviously publicizing and trying to help them grow their business side of being artists and one of the things you mention is this art loan program, so why don’t you tell us a little bit about that.

Addrienne Amato:

the art on loan, we had this idea before we actually had the warehouse space, so I think while we were still doing pop-ups, we thought how great it would be to … Since we had kind of moved into using local businesses to do these pop-ups that were one-night efforts and it was a lot of energy to then tear it all down that night.

You’re talking three, six months of planning and then within 24 hours it’s done and over with and gone and cleaned up and the business is back to normal as usual, so we thought, what if we approach all of these business owners that we have now come to grow our relationships with, and offer our curatorial services to bring the artists that we know, the artists that we’ve worked with, into their businesses, and we really work with the business and what is their brand identity and what kind of work really fits in the space, so we’re not just going to put in random artist in there, we really try to fill in their wall space, literally, with the type of work that we feel their customers or clients or the people that just work in the space would really connect with and kind of vibe with, you know? We’re not just going to put something random in place that would totally be unfitting, so that’s one program that we have that’s outside of the warehouse.

Kelly Russack:

And then another way of supporting artists, we have our tenants, and as tenant, you have access to the exhibition space, so at no extra cost, which is great, because then an artist is in the space and creates a body of work, they have the space to put on an event and to exhibit and have their own opening. So that’s something that we believe is beneficial to artists in Boulder and obviously our tenants, so the Boulder Writers’ Warehouse, they’re in our space, and they’re always having workshops and readings and performance and the list goes on, and then for the greater population outside of our warehouse, artists … We have a sliding scale, because we really believe in artists being seen and networking with the public and having conversations, so we follow up with artists, we support them, we promote them, we guide, assist, mentor, all of the above, in order for their … What? Their …

Addrienne Amato:

Career?

Kelly Russack:

Yeah, their career. Yeah, yeah. And their exposure. I guess that was the word that I was looking for, exposure.

Speaker 1:

Excellent. No, I mean it’s … We were speaking about this before, a lot of artists and a lot of just people, they have a hard time managing the professional side of what they need to do. They just want to go and create, but they’re not good at getting exposure, they’re not good at maybe handling, developing the relationships with potential customers, that keeps their dream alive, right? That pays for the space and pays for their bills and allows them to have the time to pursue that side of their life, so I’m sure your services are appreciated when maybe that’s just not something that comes naturally to some of these more artistic types, it’s pretty common, so it’s really neat. It’s not only a neat space, but it sounds like it’s a cool community, both inside the warehouse and outside.

 


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I saw, wanted to just kind of wrap up with a couple of quick questions, one art-related and then a couple kind of more, maybe Colorado-related. We all kind of moved here for our own reasons, but one of the things that is common is that we kind of go for a little more balance in our lives, like you said, you came up with this idea hiking up Sanitas, which I love. I think that really gets to the crux of what’s happening out here, but I did, when I was reading through your website, I saw on one of your artist profiles that you asked this question of them. “If money was no object, which piece of art would you like in your personal collection?” I wanted to ask you that question.

Addrienne Amato:

Oh, geez. I need to think about that for a minute.

Speaker 1:

We can edit out long pauses, don’t worry.

Addrienne Amato:

Okay. Okay. Both are kind of local. I would commission Hollis and Lana to do … They’re a Denver-based art collaboration. I think they’re partners, maybe they’re married, I’m not sure, but there’s a mural on the side of Madelife that I think actually is going to be going away soon, so if you haven’t seen it, you should drive by Madelife. It’s really organic shapes and kind of looks like bodies and flowers and it’s got really beautiful colors. I think I’d love them to do a mural somewhere wither inside or on the exterior of my house, someplace kind of unexpected, maybe an entire powder room so when you go in there it’s kind of overwhelming, something like that. I’ve always love that idea. And to have an artist like that transform a space like that would be really cool, and then if I could ever own a piece, probably one of my biggest inspirations as an artists is Clifford Still, and having the Clifford Still Museum in Denver is pretty rad, I think. It’s one, an amazing building and two, he’s an amazing artist and an artist that a lot of people actually aren’t that aware of, so that’s another space if you haven’t been there, you should check out the Clifford Still Museum.

Speaker 1:

That’s fantastic, and it’s something that I meant to ask and kind of skipped over, which is what are some of your favorite spaces in this area that you like to visit to see good … Whether it’s local or whether they’re drawing from outside of the area artists, that doesn’t really matter but what are some of your favorite spaces to go get inspired?

Kelly Russack:

I would say the MCA in Denver is pretty great. Standing out on the east side of the building and just looking out, always looking at the heart and looking out over the cars and the pedestrians down below. I really enjoy that space, and they’re always really welcoming and super cool and open and funky and just inspiring, for sure.

Addrienne Amato:

There’s a lot of co-working spaces in Denver that are really interesting. Art Gym is pretty cool. They’re sort of like us but in a different way. They have an exhibition space and they have more co-working spaces than they do … they don’t have private studios like we do, so it’s an interesting space for what they offer. You have a membership, you can go in and they have all like state-of-the-art tools, so whether you’re a jewelry maker or a print maker or a painter or a woodworker, you can go into their space and have access to tools that most people don’t …

You can use them if you go to art school, or if you’re lucky enough to connect with someone who has those tools but they’ve got this great co-working space for artists and creative people along with having the exhibition space, and they bring in a lot of really cool local and regional artists as well. I think that’s another cool space around here.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so maybe moving away from the art, when you’re not at the warehouse doing the BCC stuff, what do you like to do? What’s a great family Saturday or a great … If you can get away for the weekend in Colorado, you have any favorite, any places topping the list?

Kelly Russack:

An easy Saturday is the farmers’ market and taking a stroll down there and mingling with random community people that you bump into and getting good food and always people watching, and then to get away … Gosh, I always leave the state, which is unfortunate, but Crest Butte is on my list this summer because I hear the wildflowers are incredible and the water and the views, so that would be my go-to.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it’s an amazing place and it’s a crowd favorite in this state, right? For a reason.

Addrienne Amato:

I have an out-of-state one too and an in-state. We’ve been talking about going down to Santa Fe again. I love going down to Santa Fe because it’s not only inspiring naturally, just the real southwest feeling. We’re kind of on the edge of that here in Boulder, but there’s also the art and the artist influence down there, so you kind of get the best of both worlds. You get the nature, and then you can see why all these famous artists moved down there and left places like New York and places that we’ve lived also, and then I think in state, I’m trying to go to Aspen this summer as well, and the same thing, summertime, wildflowers, you’ve got the Aspen Museum, the Aspen Institute, again, another really cool place for the natural beauty along with some historical artist references, both historical and contemporary, so those are probably top two on my list that I could get in my car and just drive to in half a day.

Speaker 1:

Right. Those are great ideas. Finally, I would just like to ask, who would you love to hear on this podcast?

Addrienne Amato:

Local? A local person?

Speaker 1:

Or a Colorado person. Doesn’t have to be a Boulder person and it doesn’t even have to be an art or an entrepreneur, just somebody who, anybody doing something really interesting, amazing, that people should know about.

Addrienne Amato:

Well, I think Bear Rogers would be super entertaining, because he’s an amazing artist and he’s in the cannabis world in Colorado, so he has great stories to share, and also a really good friend of ours, Will Day, he’s another happy man. Leah Brenner, she’s really making a big difference in the public art scene here in Boulder, and she’s lovely to chat with.

Speaker 1:

Those are great ideas.

Addrienne Amato:

Those are all awesome, local people that are interacting with the art community in different ways. I think it would be really fun to get some of our tenants on here and sort of hear about their endeavors and the end experiences within the warehouse and why they’ve come to the warehouse and what they’re contributing to the community, so Boulder Writers’ Warehouse, Dan [Rudnicky 31:16], Maeve Falen, who else is still on there? Even Greg Afeared, who’s one of our past residents, but he’s developing a T-shirt line, so a lot of the people that have rented with us.

Kelly Russack:

Adry Norris.

Addrienne Amato:

She’d be a good one.

Kelly Russack:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Addrienne Amato:

An artist that, she lived in Lyons, she rented from us and now he’s in Denver, she would be an interesting person to talk to as well. She’s on a different artist tack, so she’d be a really good person to talk to.

Speaker 1:

Excellent. That sounds like a-

Addrienne Amato:

You’ve got a list now.

Speaker 1:

Enough to keep me … Yeah, that’s a list. That’s enough to keep me busy for a while, and I really appreciate those ideas. Well, thank you so much for coming in and telling us your story. I think it’s just amazing, and it’s been really awesome to watch you grow over there in that space and look forward to continuing to attend your events with our wild kids running around.

Addrienne Amato:

Thank you.

Kelly Russack:

Thank you.

Speaker 1:

Everyone, so, that was Addreinne Amato and Kelly Rusike from Boulder Creative Collective. Remember, you can find them online at bouldercreativecollective.com or on Instagram, also @bouldercreativecollective. Be sure to check out their website for upcoming events and gallery opening, et cetera, just some really great events going on over there. If you enjoyed this podcast, please leave a review and be sure to subscribe at colorado.fm and you can find us on iTunes. Thanks a lot.