Breckenridge

The podcast episodes in this section are focused on interviews we’ve had with amazing people, companies, restaurants and organizations in Breckenridge, CO.

One of Colorado’s favorite and busiest resort towns, Breckenridge is a four-season mecca for locals and visitors alike.

#011 Piante Pizzeria – Elevating Vegan Comfort Food in Breckenridge

Piante Pizzeria BreckenridgeJason Goldstein of Piante Pizzeria on Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast

 

Piante Pizzeria Breckenridge LogoThis episode is another on my tour de Colorado, but not on a bike.  I’m just not that hardcore.

Here in Breckenridge, I had a chance to catch up with an old friend Jason Goldstein, who recently moved to Breck.  He may be following me, I don’t know.

Jason is the chef and owner, diabolical mind behind Piante Pizzeria, a vegan pizzeria that’s dishing out traditional Neapolitan pizza, except with cashew based cheese and some really creative and delicious vegan toppings.

If you’re rolling your eyes right now about pizza without cheese, I’m telling you you’re going to miss out.  Check out their yelp reviews.

Of course, the journey is just as important as the destination. So we get into Jason’s really interesting journey from his previous career to going to culinary school and how his family deciding on relocating to Breckenridge – which includes a motorhome and visiting over 40 states.

Online, you can find Piante Pizzeria at piantepizzaria.com and on instagram @piantepizzaria.

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

I hope you enjoy this conversation with Jason Goldstein of Piante Pizzeria.

 


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Show Notes

[02:35] The long journey to Breckenridge

[08:35] Why pizza?

[11:45] It’s all about the cheese! Creating a traditional (vegan) Neapolitan pizza.

[15:00] Building a little family with a different approach to resort town employees

[17:15] Splurging on ingredients

[19:00] Response from the vegan community

[23:00] The unexpected connections of opening a vegan pizzeria

 


Relevant Links

Piante Pizzeria

Piante Pizzeria on Yelp

Miyoko’s Kitchen – Vegan Cheese

 


Related Episodes:

Breckcreate

Breckenridge podcast episodes

Food & Drink podcast episodes

 


Transcript

 

 

Jason thanks for having me. Thanks for being on the show. Really appreciate it. You know we had spoken a little bit about this before but you were on the east coast of New York finishing culinary school. You had your little family growing family going and you were kind of thinking about what was next. I don’t know if you were specifically think in a pizza place in Breckenridge in particular but why don’t you bring us into how you ended up in Colorado.

So once I left my prior life and career in the hardwood lumber industry and my wife who’s like a traveling yoga teacher realized that we didn’t need to live in New York anymore. We asked ourselves where in the world or more specifically the United States because we’re not ready to leave the United States yet could we. And do we want to live.

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It’s a pretty daunting question. There’s 49 other states besides New York to live in. You know and we want to get out of the northeast so we bought a motor home and said let’s go and find out where we want to live. So we hit 42 states in 14 months with our family. Nice. Yeah. With your two kids and a dog loaded up the 42 of them and my wife who is leans more towards the beach culture and surfing and stuff like that.

I was like there’s no chance she’s going to want to move to Colorado. So. So we started our search in actually the northeast like New Hampshire and stuff like that and maybe buy a farm with the barn and you know raise some animals and just kind of live our life like this once you leave New York. You realize that most of the other states in the country not all but most are less expensive considerably than New York.

So your financial help offers a lot more options to leave New York. So that was one of the reasons why we did leave. Right. And you know the weather up there in New Hampshire in Maine was just too rough for us to even consider moving forward of that project. Sure. So then we cruised down you know the eastern seaboard down to Florida in some really cool places some good surf town is down there.

But you know my wife you know she wasn’t feeling it you know to move there. Like you know beautiful state. Lots of cool stuff but not there so then from Florida we hung a left and you know we weren’t trying to skip these other states there’s a lot of good things but you know it just seemed like a place that we could relocated we didn’t know anybody in these other states didn’t and they seem to not be as open minded as like Colorado or some you know these western states you know move into like Mississippi I don’t know anybody in Mississippi right.

How am I going. Like I don’t even know where to begin. If I was going to move down there. So you know so. So we got to Florida. We hung a left you know and went down the street across the southern border of Georgia Alabama Texas and we knew no offense to any of those places we knew those weren’t any states that we wanted to look into.

So you get to California and yet we love California and stuff but there’s some issues that don’t jive with our belief systems.

So we skip California and then you got Washington and Oregon which are absolutely beautiful States great and but everybody told us you know you’re not going to see the sun for eight months. It’s hard. It’s hard. So we’re like not going to do that one right away. We knew about Colorado all along. It wasn’t like it was like a surprise like we were saving that for more of the end of the trip to Lake you know. Right.

So let’s not just go straight there. Exactly. Exactly. In the country Let’s adventure Let’s see what else is out there. To people. And there’s a lot of other really cool places that we like. Madison Wisconsin is a really cool little town. You know they’re growing. They’re growing their produce like in the middle of the highway is like in the medians it’s like really like vultures thinking culture over there and you know when we left the earth got to Cleveland Ohio we could live here like you know.

But you know certainly it just wasn’t. It was still more of like the same type of light lifestyle. You know we really wanted to change our lifestyle. So in places like Montana and Idaho and you know I grew up in New Jersey, seventeen hundred people per square mile.

And then you get to a place like Montana where there’s seven and it was pretty nice. You feel it.

Yeah. You really feel you spread your wings a little bit. But still like so isolated you know for like you know our star type of lifestyle. So you know we came down to Colorado and you know we thought maybe Boulder you know a lots of friends of relocated to Boulder. Good friends. And it just was still like two hours from the mountains. It was a big deal for us and it was just a very busy fast paced little city you know.

So just we wanted to be more in the woods so Breckenridge really was the sweet spot. You know 90 minutes or 90 minutes to two hours to the international airport 90 minutes to downtown Denver and you know world class alpine skiing and all kinds of other things so. Sure. What I didn’t like as far as the business goes a million and a half people come through this town every year so I figured out a good shot you know compared to other ski towns for sure.

Absolutely. I mean that’s that’s part of the special thing that’s going on in this town in particular and it’s a handful of towns in Colorado have kind of achieved this real solid almost four year four season economy right. They’ve diversified and they have great people in town making sure that these million and a half tourists are coming in almost steadily. I mean obviously the ski season still dominates but but summer is just as big. It seems like. Yeah exactly.

You know the biking and the hiking and all the events I mean just before you know I talked to you as I was speaking with the people over the break create and you know all of the things that they’re doing as part of their charter with the city to keep the calendar full. And you look at the calendar for Breckenridge or something like every day.

It’s crazy. I can’t I never I never even anticipate any of this moving here. You know right.

You don’t know when you come here to just to travel just to go skiing for a week. You’re just that’s all you do. You show up at the mountain. You go to the mountain. Exactly. And so yes it’s totally different when you get to move into a place as a local like that and just start making friends and really and then opening a business.

You know how did that all pan out. Like you when you moved here I’m sure you had some you know you’d been developing some thoughts when you’re sitting in the driver’s seat of a motor home for 14 months. You had a lot of time to think I’m sure.

But you know in this time you know you had your wife who had been diving deep into the lifestyle and you had you know kind of already been there for a long time but just really letting your culinary education kind of percolate around you know how you wanted to make it fit your life. And you know your views on you know what healthy eating and healthy living is all about. And so there was the opportunity to allow you to kind of open Piante Pizzeria up and right here in Breckenridge.

Well we didn’t initially think that we wanted to open up a pizza place because you know I’m a pizza lover connoisseur coming from New York and actually turning vegetarian allowed me to eat pizza. You know being vegan there’s no pizza but vegetarian you can eat pizza and like you know running around with a young family and I’m doing work and doing stuff like pizza was always the constant comfort food.

I could go into a pizzeria by myself get a couple of slices sit down and not feel weird like most other restaurants it’s like you don’t usually go into them and sit by yourself because like when you sit in a restaurant by yourself I mean it’s all cool and all but it’s also a little you know it could be a little weird.

You know I don’t know but I’m fine with it now. But you know so it was just really great food for me and it kept me from going vegan for a year and a half. Literally that was the only thing that I would eat that was not vegan for radio. And we were vegan or house and stuff like that. So I thought I was with come out here and open up like a little coffee shop the bakery because I figured I could sell sugar anybody.

Like people don’t care if they see a cupcake they don’t care if it’s vegan or not. You know when they when they’re eating pizza everybody has an opinion about pizza. Sure. You know it’s one of those foods that has a history. It’s a communal food.

And I was just like man thank God this Japanese vegan woman named Miyoko out of California really perfected the art of making cheese out of nuts. OK. And she made this vegan cheese. It’s just so it coincided with when the vegan pizzeria was like coming into form. And when I discovered the shoes I was like wow I can make like real Neapolitan pizza with this cashew based cheese and people don’t even know the difference. Right

. And that really is. It really was the hang up and that’s something like you said is really recent. I mean even if you are not vegan or not even a vegetarian but you were just open to go into the restaurant sometimes and trying this food. The cheese would be a hangout like if you’ve got a veggie burger with the cheese on it. You’re like oh. So. So that’s a recent thing actually that allowed you to do this.

Yes. It’s very recent and it’s one of those things that it’s really exciting to be in on the ground floor like with these other companies and the fact that it’s blowing people’s minds when they come into the restaurant that they can’t believe it’s of being type of situation because we we really follow the laws of Italian Neapolitan to laws of making pizza. Crust and our sauce all that type is like really traditional Italian Neapolitan style pizza. Right. And then the only the only variation this cashew based she’s right you know and that’s interesting like you mentioned that it’s it’s not really just you you’re know being on.

At the beginning of a trend including like your suppliers and your vendors and things like that you’re kind of all on a journey together. Yeah totally. So that’s really that’s amazing. So you found a place in Breck that had the wood fired.

Well that’s the other story here. Move to Breckenridge and we moved in August and it’s probably like now late late September we’re just starting to settle into our house and stuff and I was just like man like now what.

You know I mean I do want to you know get on the mountain and go snowboarding every day. But this is October and you know I’m 40 43 year old guy. What am I going to do with it like that. I’m not here to snowboard. You know to do something you know. So I went on my phone. I was like restaurants for sale in Breckenridge. And I didn’t have a huge budget on financing myself so this little pizza place was for sale.

And I went and checked it out and I was like I could afford this and it was more like we didn’t have a business plan we didn’t like you know it was just my wife and I we really didn’t know many people up here or the culture or anything and we went over there and really let’s just see if we could do it right.

That was all as I can we do it. Will people respond to this if we could do it here in a place where there’s not a vegan restaurant for 50 miles and then I feel like we could really do it in a lot of other places too. So it was more like you know just to see you. We’ve never done this before. Sure. So can we do it in like you know it wasn’t a huge risk if it failed.

You know it wasn’t going to like bury or family or anything like this. It’s been quite a learning experience from just like all the stuff still regrettably in the restaurant to getting your license to getting logo’s to getting banking accounts. I mean it was an arduous process you know. So anybody that wants started a new business just be ready that there’s a lot of unexpected things that are going to come your way like insurance and taxes and stuff like that like always be prepared for those type of things you know and those are the things that get people right.

Like I have this idea. Having the idea is one thing like kind of executing on the idea and especially a lot of times when you’re dealing with the kind of creative type types of people that’s those are the things that are really hard for them and that are the stumbling blocks. That’s the reality of owning a business right there in your city taxes on time and all that kind of good stuff.

Well I tell people all the time that like you know if I if I just had to rely on the culinary school part of my education in life then the place I would have been closed in a month.

Right.

 


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You know it was a twenty seven years of business in New York in doing that. That’s that’s what kept me going. Right. You know. Yeah. The culinary school was great but you know I mean that gets you the good recipes and understanding how to run a kitchen. Right. But that’s that’s one part of it. Sure. You know well and getting people is the other huge part. Oh yeah. And that’s terribly warn me about up to.

And not warm like warmed in the sense of what you’re dealing with just of a population that they’re coming into seasonal work and things like that. And so they just having that the time I think there’s a culture in the restaurant industry and in the in the world especially when it comes to tourist towns that you’re going to get late. You know not great workers and people that are like focused on other things and you know they’re just doing it to like pay their rent and get their lift pass.

And I haven’t had that experience really. I mean the workers that we have are they seem to be very enthusiastic about working in the restaurant and I feel like we’re we’re building like a little family over there. Tell you the truth with these people and I really want to put a lot of effort into this interview and into the world is that lake. But we put our time and effort into our staff and not worry about you know quarterly profits and stuff because at the end of the day the staff will get you there.

It may not happen in two months. I’m in this for 20 years and I don’t know if like I don’t care what happens you know at the end of this quarter. Right. You know I’m worried about is going to happen 10 years from now. Sure. And the better I could train my employees and the more loyal I am to them and they are to me the faster they will get the better they will be with my customers. And overall everybody wins right. You know I’m not too late to be your bottom line profits at the end of the month you know.

Sure. And you know there’s a lot of you have a chance to go and visit your business over the course of kind of this whole weekend that I’ve been staying here you know hanging out in the back of the kitchen you are really seeing that just the people there do seem to have attracted an amazing crew and you’ve kind of mentioned that the words kind of get now that it’s a nice place to work.

You know it’s a good atmosphere. And that’s absolutely rubs off when you walk in that place you feel it and then you know the other thing you mentioned is you know it’s not totally focused on the bottom line. A lot of that also spills over like into your ingredients and we spoke a lot about a lot about that. You know the tomatoes are something like the cost between the cheapest ones and the best organic ingredients usually isn’t really all that great.

Now it may become a when you add it all up with all of the different ingredients it is an investment in those things but that that’s just important to you it’s not you know you’re not getting the cheapest ingredients you’re probably getting the most expensive ones.

But it totally shines in the quality of the product at the end and that’s something that comes back to you know your kind of culinary education and things like that to restaurants. You had a chance to get involved with is just like I’m not a great chef. You know you don’t have to be a great chef if you have the best ingredients you’re your products. Probably going to be pretty awesome.

That’s usually what they say right. You know and like I see a lot of restaurants out there they spend a lot of money on advertising and you know commercials and all kinds of things that discounting their food and happy hour specials. This is like the restaurant world this is like the business of running a restaurant. And like we’re not doing any of that stuff we’re actually trying to change that model. It’s like not to pay my employees are going to pay for my ingredients.

You’re not going to see my advertisement on the front page of the newspaper because I’d rather put my money into my ingredients to my employees than into advertising and discounting the artists. It just makes more sense to me. I mean they might be 99 percent of restauranteurs out there telling me that I’m out of my mind and that’s how you do it but that’s what I’m trying to do and it seems to be working so far so right. You know and the response has been great. It’s just been really good so far knock on wood.

Yeah. I mean it seems like not only is your staff becoming a kind of a little bit of a family over there but you’re developing kind of the regulars and the reputation and by you know you haven’t even hit your first comment this season yet. So those are really you know that that’s going to be really interesting to see how that goes. But you started off by building you know a reputation kind of in Breckenridge and also with all of us front Rangers who come to Breckenridge and it’s really shining through and all here as a community man.

The one interesting thing about vegans now I have to gluten free people to that list because we at Piante Pizzeria do make a you know in-house gluten free crust that people were like you know going crazy over they can’t even almost tell the difference for my regular crust so that’s doing really well but these people will travel for this type of food it’s like you know I tell people story all the time and I’ll get a group of six that came in from somewhere in the Midwest anywhere in the world and they all know about our restaurant they just stumbled in and they’re like oh you guys have like real cheese and I say that with quotes because the cheeses you know that’s another story about it or pepperoni.

You know we’re going to we’re all looking for you know what I find you know as Peter you know regular standard pizza place across the street once and I’m over there and the next group comes in of four and they came from Fort Collins which is like two and a half hours away and they came just to come.

They love Breckenridge but they’re coming to try our vegan pizza and they tell us and we have so much positive feedback from people. I think that also helps with my staff because they hear it like because I’m not there all the time. You know they’re the ones that want to go and talk to the chef talk to the owner or to tell people like how great when you’re serving people food that they never had in their 40 50 60 years old and this is the first time they ever had this in their life. That’s pretty it’s a pretty rewarding experience for whoever is involved with that process you know. Right

Yes. Because like you said it’s a whole experience from the minute they walk in the door. It like with the music you’ve chosen for it and I mean people come in and cry.

I mean I’ve had people literally like I haven’t had pizza in nine years.

Right and they’re crying because they can’t believe what they’ve had. They can have this experience again in their life you know. Right

Because they made this lifestyle decision and it involved cutting out certain things that they love that they love. Yeah sure. That’s amazing man.

Well it’s just seems like you’ve really touched on something and obviously you know trends in food are just changing and you know people even like me so I’m not a vegan. But I was just thinking to myself when I was making myself a cup of tea in your kitchen this morning that you know our pantries first of all I had to dig.

You know when you are at somebody else’s house I had to do all your covers so sorry about that. But you know your pantry doesn’t really look that much different than now. You know there’s a lot of the same stuff going on. And then I you know I might put it like some chicken on my salad or something like that. And then and then at the pizza place like same thing like pizza and a salad is probably one of my favorite meals.

Man. So of course you like I mean we’ve talked about the pizza we haven’t talked about the other stuff that’s on your menu but your salads are just they’re amazing. And then you know you have the pizza experience and you know I don’t need if the food is good and the crust is good and you know you’re getting these crazy toppings on there and it’s just clicking.

All of the kind of mental boxes of what you expect when you sit down for that meal than that then you’re satisfied when you came out you don’t really worried about. Well was that dairy. Right. It’s like you’re your mouth’s happy your brain’s synapses are happy. lay down your belly fat in your belly.

And then and then you walk out and you don’t feel like all heavy which is you know pretty like amazing to have that experience after a pizza dinner.

And I’ve got to say to like I want to add like I had a vision in my head of like my customer base when I open up I’m like that’s probably going to be you know millennials and more females than males just from my biased about you know veganism. Like from my chefs school class was two guys and 10 girls so like just going by those numbers I’m like figure in that it’s going to be more heavy on the female side.

But when I see guys that come in that look like bikers from Texas and I’m standing there and I’m like oh my god this guy is going to like have a fit when he finds out what I’m trying to sell him over here. And the next thing I know he’s hugging me because he’s been vegan for a year and a half and lost 30 pounds because his doctor told him to get off the animal proteins and he’s like so happy and hunted our restaurant down.

I’m like wow man I can’t believe like you know 75 year old people from Oklahoma come into my restaurant you know and you know you know sorry about my bias you know but like I’m like wow you are a vegan right. Yeah. Proud of it. And I’m like man I never would have expected you know.

Well that’s what happens when you take a chance right. And you know I mean you travel the country you say you had a chance to see people from all these different places and kind of experienced all that our country has to offer. And now they’re kind of you know you settled where fits your lifestyle but those people you know we’re we’re a country of road trippers man we love it.

But he knows that. And you know whether it’s in your wagon or on your motorcycle or in your RV man we’re on the road you know.

So even bicycles more on bicycles there. And because you rode your bike from where. It’s unbelievable.

So you know when you open the doors to a foodie experience like you get to have that special kind of interaction.

Oh that’s the other thing too is that like from traveling the country we realize that you know we could drive from Maine to Florida of Florida to the southern tip of California and from California up into the southern tip of Washington and find like vegging plant based food. Like pretty much without too much of an issue. But if I want to drive from the East Coast to Colorado and drive through the heartland good luck right.

You know and that’s one of the reasons why we wanted to bring it here to Colorado because even Denver being a major metropolitan city I think only has one or two like plant based restaurants where it’s like there’s more plant based restaurants in Omaha than there are in Denver. And for me I like to be in Colorado with such a healthy focused athletic focus. I mean some accounting here I think is rated as one of the wealthiest counties in the country. And I it’s like how do you guys not have a good vegan restaurant or more healthy options out there.

You know I mean I’m sure I can find a great burger in about 25 different restaurants over here but we’re really the only ones that are purely drive purely for this type of food right now appear so. Right.

And you’ve hit it with like again like with an accessible kind of comfort as opposed to like you know some fancier plates or other stuff like that. It really breaks down a barrier.

Yeah well that’s the other thing that like you know just the plant based food. You know moving forward now in this country is just been exploding so the options now. I mean even in the last year I just found out that there’s like vegan cool whip too. I mean you know it’s like it’s not even hard anymore. Like where like in the past it was like you know people came into a vegan vegetarian restaurant and they were just expecting bland food that you know not really a lot of personality and you know I mean that’s what it was.

It was part of because the ingredients just weren’t there and they thought the recipes and you know what people are doing now like with cauliflower like you know I mean it’s just you know I don’t feel like I missed really anything nowadays being vegan right now where you know maybe five years ago it was much more challenging where you know you have these ingredients like tofu and temping or like I don’t even know what do I do with this.

You know but you know it’s evolving and it seems like it’s really moved because it’s good for us it’s good for the planet and it’s good for the animals. You know right. Mean

that’s you know those are all messages that resonate especially in our environment. Like you said we’re in an active healthy place. So. Well you know it’s man. Thanks for taking the time to sit down. I really wish you all the best with your new place. It seems like it’s headed in the right direction. But man the ski season is going to be it’s going to be wild is when night the crowds really start showing up around here because you’ve had a chance just to kind of you know figure figure things out.

Hopefully we’ll see what happens. Right. It’s only nine nine tables right now so that they are to make some more carve out some more space for and make a reservation. Hey good luck to you with the podcast man that’s really awesome that you’re doing this. I know the stories are fun and you know it’s really fun to connect with people so I think Colorado is a great it’s a really great you have a lot of great stories here. Man there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on in this state for sure. That’s what I’m finding is that it’s limitless.

Awesome. Well thanks again. Best of luck and we’ll have you again soon man. Good. Great. Come on a pizza bye.

Everyone here thanks for listening and I hope you enjoyed this conversation with Jason. As always you can find any links to related content in the show notes to this podcast episode. If you enjoyed this episode please subscribe to this podcast on Colorado Podcast on Apple Podcasts and leave review if you have a few moments. It really helps out if you prefer to get our advice via email or use a podcast service. Other than Apple podcasts such as stitchery Android you can learn more at Colorado.FM/subscribe.

Thanks again. Hope you enjoyed this episode and we will talk to you soon.

 

 


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#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.

 


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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