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Holidays of the Arts

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The holiday season is upon us once again. The cold weather has finally come out of hiding, helping the transition into the winter months. Old Town is glimmering with a mass of glowing lights, familiar holiday drinks have returned to menus across town, and often, this cold time of the year brings warmth through traditions and the spirit of the season.

As many people are building our local economy by shopping at local stores, may we not forget about our wonderful arts scene, which can be a wonderful option to indulge in the spirit of the holidays. Many arts organizations feature holiday shows, including the CSU University Center for the Arts’ production A Christmas Story, Canyon Concert Ballet’s The Nutcracker, Bas Bleu Theatre’s Almost Maine, and Opera Fort CollinsGift of the Magi. The opportunity to enjoy and support the arts during this holiday season is invaluable.

Sharing time with friends and family is a large part of many people’s traditions and what better occasion to create memories than attending the multitude of fantastic, spirit boosting, arts events in Fort Collins.

Fresh AIR

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The Arts Incubator of the Rockies (AIR) is a new program created in collaboration with Beet Street, Colorado State University, and the City of Fort Collins. But, instead of just Colorado based, it is a 10 state regional arts incubator program with a beautifully crafted website as its foundation.

The AIR website provides a place where artists can share and get feedback on their work, collaborate with other artists, look for job opportunities in the Opportunity Center, watch inspirational videos, and read helpful articles in the Knowledge Center. Also offered, are the Shift and Evolve workshops, which were generated to develop and expand individuals’ confidence and success in their professional journeys. Overall, It is an amazing site centered around and specifically constructed for all kinds of artists and art organizations.

There is an option to be a free or paid member (added benefits and features for paid members), and with paid memberships starting at $50 annually, the benefits outweigh the cost. AIR combines marketing opportunity, a constructive artist community, and the convenience of multiple tools for artists in one place.

The more members who join AIR, the deeper the benefits and the higher the quality the website becomes. If you haven’t already, check out the website and all its amazing features, become a member, and tell all your friends.

Oom-pa-pa, Oom-pa-pa!

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Fort Collins Four Tuba Quartet: Sam Arrieta, Chris Krueger, Cody Krueger, and Zach Garcia (pictured left to right)

Comprised of professional musicians from the Fort Collins area, the Fort Collins Four Tuba Quartet embodies everything that is Fort Collins music.

The Fort Collins Four Tuba Quartet has performed several Streetmosphere performances this summer and has certainly gathered a lot of local attention. Performing at sites such as Moe’s Original Barbeque and Oak Street Plaza, the Quartet appeals to a wide variety of audiences by playing all types of genres: polka, jazz, classical, ceremonial, and even some modern pop. 

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Understanding Climate Change: It’s Simpler than You Think!

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One earth - well done - coming right up!

“When you add heat to things, they warm up.”

Dr. Scott Denning’s recipe for global warming may sound over-simplified, but he adds the extra ingredients of humor, enthusiasm and dance (dance!?) and shakes things up for this month’s Science Cafe.

“I want to reach people at their common sense level,” he explains with his own unique, accessible brand of science.

Upon reading his biography, I was admittedly intimidated by the many, many syllables in Dr. Denning’s area of research, but the CSU professor handily dispelled my fears of words such as biogeochemical. In fact, his specialty is talking global science to non-science audiences, including those of you in attendance at this week’s presentation at Avogadro’s Number.

He agrees that while global warming has become a hot-button topic, it’s simple to explain. The hard part is what can be done about it. That’s when the climate takes on a serious, sometimes scary, political nature.

Dr. Denning first studied geology before receiving his PhD in Atmospheric Science. He’s lived in Ft. Collins for the better part of three decades and joined the Atmospheric Science faculty at CSU in 1998. It’s there he formed a research group whose interests focus on energy, water, carbon dioxide and many more of those multi-syllabic terms that cause my head to hurt. So, imagine my amusement when the good professor himself proclaimed the research talk “boring” and scientists as often “arrogant.”

“My avocation is to bring the science of climate change to the people,” he said with humility and hilarity. He’s been busy spreading the word in a people-friendly manner to kids, museums, the web and more. Dr. Denning recently visited Mesa State College with CSU colleague John Calderazzo, another passionate educator and past Science Cafe speaker on the subject of climate.

Dr. Scott Denning

The professor promises an entertaining, engaging and fun evening with pictures, PowerPoint and possibly a jig. He is, after all, the star of the “Molecule Dance,” a visual example of his educational style. Check your dry expectations at the door this Wednesday, April 13, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. As always, Avo’s provides the venue and a menu for the Beet Street Science Cafe. Dr. Denning will provide the educational entertainment.

What about you – did you have a teacher who made learning fun?

Written by Susan Richards

April 12th, 2011 at 9:43 am

Climate and Culture: More correlations than you would think

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This month’s Science Café, Climate Change, Art and Literature, is timely indeed, as we emerge from a week of record-breaking, sub-zero temperatures here in Colorado. The Al Gore jokes were flying around my office like bitter, errant snowflakes. So what do a couple of English professors from CSU – each with several published books and countless articles between them – have to say about global warming and the arts?

Believe it or not, plenty.

SueEllen Campbell

John Calderazzo

Professor John Calderazzo and Dr. SueEllen Campbell – colleagues in education and marriage – have taught English in Northern Colorado for more than twenty years, bringing not only their literary credentials but also a life-long passion for nature, ecology and the world we were gifted.

“We were always interested in the way nature and culture interact,” said Calderazzo of his and Campbell’s career evolution. Campbell’s course studies include nature and environmental literature, while her husband’s focus is non-fiction creative writing. “Climate change came to our attention and it wasn’t that large of a leap,” he went on to explain.

The couple has written articles for such magazines and periodicals as Audubon and Orion, and both have authored books in their field of interest, including Rising Fire: Volcanoes and our Inner Lives by Calderazzo and Even Mountains Vanish: Searching for Solace in an Age of Extinction by Campbell.

Then three years ago, the couple decided to reach out to all the departments at CSU that were involved in the research of climate change. This hotbed subject was and is a source of interest to many disciplines – science, politics, sociology and yes, English.

“The core of the word ‘university’ is universe,” said Calderazzo. A lively series of talks followed the creation of Changing Climates at CSU, and continues today with the professors co-directing.

Global warming: It's not a pretty picture.

This Wednesday’s Science Café promises to be as interesting as the weather in Colorado. The colleagues are popular at the university and enthusiastic about their subject. Rather than a dry dissertation on the perils of melting polar caps, the pair will take a literary and visual look at the effects of changing climates on writing and the arts. They’ll present artwork by children, speculative photography of our changing world and even poetry.

So, get to Avo’s this Wednesday, Feb. 9 at 5:30, order a cold drink and warm up to a thought-provoking topic from a refreshing angle. What about you creative types? Do you find yourself inspired by a change in the weather?

Connecting across a big world: Uniting cultures through entertainment

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How would you define diversity? It seems like a simple question, and I’m sure will provide a straightforward answer if you looked it up. But can one sentence or two really describe the vast diversity in the world today? How do we wrap our heads around the idea of multiple cultures? Considering the huge realm of cultural experience, understanding diversity becomes a daunting task.

However, it is not something worth ignoring. In our busy lives it can be hard to see the world from a perspective other than our own. Often we find ourselves interested in other cultures and wanting to know about them, but not always having the time or resources to do so. Then, all of a sudden, we see something like the disaster in Haiti and everything looks different. Our eyes open up to what is out there in the rest of the world, and we see ways in which we can interact and be helpful. Our response to needs around the world, when we are made aware of them, is outstanding. Being aware of diversity, even in the most unhappy times, can bring about positive things.

This weekend, Colorado State University is hosting the first annual Uhuru Film Festival, offering a chance to peer into different cultures and hopefully become engaged with them. This festival embodies diversity in all forms. Breaking traditional boundaries of film festival genre, the UFF presents a variety of art including documentary, fictional narratives, and shorts. Music and books are also being promoted, demonstrating that cultural expression is created through multiple mediums. And though the UFF features African artists, do not expect a one-sided view of the African experience. A political activist couple returning from exile, a taxicab driver, an American seeking her heritage, and an Elvis impersonator are just a few of the characters that will be followed in the course of these films. In every way, the UFF shows us the diversity of human experience. Displaying them all in one weekend offers us a powerful way of learning about others and their lives.

I have always found film to be a powerful medium for both entertainment and education. The ability of a director to tell a story, so that the experience of the characters becomes so completely clear and relevant, has always inspired me in some way. But these stories are so real, and are so telling of a cultural experience, they really speak for themselves. Like a big news story from around the world, these tales reach out and ask us to open our eyes to the experience of another.

To kick things off for the UFF, Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong’o will be reading from his latest novel Wizard of the Crow at the Reader’s Cove Bookstore this Thursday. It is a great opportunity to meet a world renowned author and hear a touching tale of cultural experience.

 Described as a “global epic from Africa,” this novel deals with the rise of globalization, and how we are all living in a world that is getting bigger and bigger. Thiong’o understands that globalization potentially causes divisions in different cultures, a result of many factors including the simple fact of population growth. At the same time, however, technology has made it possible to reach across the globe in seconds, allowing us to be a part of other cultures quite easily. This gives us a chance to be involved in the lives of others.

“We are all connected,” Thiong’o said, “we are each other’s keeper no matter where we are or come from.”

The many events presented by the UFF will certainly show us a new and powerful way of looking at other cultures. Once we learn about different experiences, we can see the many ways in which we can participate in dialogue, involve ourselves in aid, and ultimately make our vast and diverse world seem a little smaller.

Details on the Uhuru Film Festival:
When: Friday, February 5-Sunday, February 7, 10:00am-9:00pm (film times vary)
Where: Lory Student Center, Colorado State University
Safari yote (entire event):$35.00 General public $25.00 Students
Siku moja (one day):$13.00 General Public $8.00 Students
Moja Pass (single film):$5.00 General public $3.00 Students
Full Schedule of Films can be found here at

Details on the Ngugi wa Thiong’o reading

When: Thursday, February 4, 6:30pm
Where: Reader’s Cove Bookstore, 1001 E. Harmony Rd.
Cost: Free
Books are now available at the bookstore. Purchase before copies run out and get your book signed after the book reading.

CSU Theatre takes on Oh What a Lovely War with great success

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This weekend is the last chance to see CSU’s production of Oh What a Lovely War. As a history buff, I have a special attachment to the topic of life during the First World War, and so I am looking forward to getting another chance to see it this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The play, however, is much more than a historical account that only historians of World War One would care to see. It is actually chronicle of the war as told through actual songs, music, and documents from the time period. Authenticity is combined with drama, humor, and exceptional talent, to create an amazing collage of images and experiences that can move anyone.

First performed by Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, London, in 1963, O What a Lovely War received the acclaim of London audiences and critics, winning the Grand Prix of the Theatre des Nations festival in Paris that year. It is now considered a classic of the modern theatre.

As a student in England, the 1969 movie version deeply impacted director Eric Prince. “People were shocked and amazed to see this subject matter on stage, presented in such a cleverly produced way, using humor to disguise the seriousness,” said Prince. “For the current generation, it would be akin to making a comical musical about Vietnam or the Iraq War.”

This show presents challenges for any production company. Director Prince, designer Price Johnston, music director Bruce Burbank, and choreographer Scott Wright collaborate on this immense project featuring stunning photos, archive images, iconic recruitment propaganda, and music, songs and dances from the time of the Great War of 1914-18. Advanced production uses hundreds of photos and films, making it a powerful, multi-level production.

It is not surprising that the highly demanding Oh What a Lovely War is rarely done at the college level. The cast at CSU is made of up 19 actors playing 130 parts, with some performers taking on 10 or 11 different roles. This musical gives students, including eight freshmen, rare opportunities for multiple character development and collaboration. Much of the difficulty lies in perfecting the wide range of British, Belgian, German, Russian, French, Austrian, Serbian, and American accents. To achieve accuracy, Prince relied on dialect coach Paul Meier. And the work of the CSU Theatre Department has already been recognized: Prince said that several of the original cast members he has consulted were “impressed that a university in the United States could even take it on.”

The play provides a great perspective to high school students, as well as college age and adults who have studied World War One, but ultimately it is a story that affects everyone. “Great plays deal with great subject matter, elevating OWALW beyond entertainment with something relevant for every viewer,” said Prince.
The CSU Theatre Department has turned their hard work and dedication into a musical like no other. This show reminds us of a history that cannot be forgotten, and teaches us a little bit about ourselves in the process.

For more information on Oh, What a Lovely War, including how to purchase tickets, please visit the CSU School of the Arts.

Written by admin

December 10th, 2009 at 8:28 am

A New Way of Looking at Climate Change

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It seems that our lives are full of information on climate change these days. Commercials tell us what cars have the smallest carbon footprint, and there are reusable bags for sale at every store from Whole Foods to Old Navy. We listen to our nation’s leaders on the news, on the radio, on Oprah, as we are given the latest information on how the world is being changed by global warming.

And it is great to be informed. I remember as a kid being told to plant a tree or recycle my soda cans on Earth Day, and the discussion was over. Americans today seemed more in tune to the latest advancements than ever before. At the same time, though, how much do we really understand about climate change? Just think about the images we see and the words we hear: polar ice caps, solar and wind technology, clean coal. Some scientists talk about the climate change process in terms of decades rather than years. Unless you are an environmental engineer, you may wonder (as I do) how exactly individual lives, right now, are being affected by all this. We have heard the big words and topical arguments in the media, but how much do we really know about what climate change is doing to the lives of others?

The movie Climate Refugees looks at the issue of global warming in a whole new way. Utilizing experts and politicians as well as real people around the globe, this film shows how people are living with climate change. As I did a little research on this documentary, I was amazed to find that many people today are losing their homes, as their land becomes completely unlivable in a changing climate.

“We are putting a human face to climate change,” said director Michael Nash. “We traveled around the world, from the islands of the South Pacific to the coast of Alaska interviewing refugees on the run. Our interviews with refugees, scholars, and politicians describe the collision of overpopulation, lack of resources and our changing climate that is creating what is quickly becoming humankind’s greatest challenge.”

According to the makers of the film, the U.N. has now reported that more people have been displaced due to environmental disasters than from war. With no current action in place to offer aid to refugees, millions are left looking for new homes.

Luckily, word is spreading is about this problem. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change commissioned Nash and others to create a film that represents the individuals who have experienced the worst of the climate change crisis. Climate Refugees will be shown at the Convention later this year in Copenhagen, but an exclusive university screening of this film will be held at Colorado State University this week.

The viewing of this film will be held at Lory Student Center Theatre on the CSU campus this Sunday, November 15, at 6pm. Tickets are free and open to the public, and can only be picked up at the CSU Box Office, located in the Lory Student Center.

This will be a test screening of the film before it is shown in Copenhagen. “The film is designed to spur discussion and debate about the effects of climate change on our planet,” said Patrick McConathy, the executive producer of Climate Refugees. “Colorado State is the perfect place to debut the film.”

The personal challenges faced by individuals today in the face of climate change is something that we all should be aware of. Knowing that this is happening now, not decades in the future, shows us in a new light the significance of the issue. The fact that CSU, a national leader in environmental studies, has been chosen to present this film is something to be proud of, and we should take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn more.

For another opportunity to learn about climate change this week, check out our Science Cafe tomorrow night with Dr. Diana H. Wall, director of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability at CSU.  She will be discussing  ‘The Dry Valleys of Antarctica: Soils and Climate Change’ on Wednesday, 11/11 at 6:00pm (arrive at 5:30), at Dempsey’s on 160 W. Oak St.  This is a free event where you can grab a drink, have a snack and get smarter.  All in about an hour.

Posters, and what they have to say about the world around us

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We live in a culture that is very familiar with traditional “art.” Almost anyone can spot a famous Picasso, and we are aware of the fact Leonardo da Vinci was a Renaissance painter. The general appreciation for artists such as these is obviously well deserved, and the continual interest in the arts is clear in popular culture, like movies and books. But how do we go about thinking of non-traditional modes of art? And how often do we stop and think about our present world, and what art has to say about it?

Take the example of posters. The term probably conjures images of advertisements for bands, or celebrities plastered all over dorm room walls. But posters can serve many different functions, including art and social advocacy. After all, the person who sits down to design that art cares about what goes on that poster. I wonder if we took time to examine the work of poster art, we would be amazed to hear what some posters are trying to “say.”

This is the idea behind the 16th Biennial Colorado International Invitational Poster Exhibition, on display at the CSU University Center for the Arts, with satellite exhibits around town, through December 22. The event, hosted by the Art department at the CSU School of the Arts, displays poster designs from 82 artists from 28 different countries. Showcasing examples of visual communication to an American audience and promoting international understanding through graphic arts, this exhibition is the only one of its kind in the U.S., and it is here at CSU for us to experience.

These poster artists are not simply promoting events or asking you to hire them to fix your computer.  They are advocating for issues from across the globe. As viewers, we have the chance to see what is really going on in the world through visual and graphic interpretation. The honor laureate this year, Majid Abassi, for example, expands our global awareness through the solo exhibition, Persian Variations: An Exhibition of Majid Abbasi’s Book Covers & Poster Designs. Abassi is the first honor laureate from Iran, and he offers his audience a unique view into his Iranian culture.

Lenny Frickman, director of the University Art Museum at Colorado State University, remarked, “The visual ingenuity displayed in the posters is extraordinary as artists take on a number of issues, and come up with myriad visual solutions that are quite astounding in their impact.” And this impact is certainly strong. In a digital age, these posters are a great medium to get a message out. Our vision-centered minds can easily find meaning in an image, and our experience with computers makes digital art more effective than it has ever been.

We all love to look at great art. While we are used to appreciating art, even possibly finding meaning in it, this exhibit show us that there is an entire world of social and cultural issues that we may be unaware of. Not only do we have a chance to expand our view of art, but of the entire world as well. 

Satellite displays, featuring specific historical and geographic subjects, will be hosted at:

  • Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Loveland Museum and Gallery
  • First National Bank Gallery at Colorado State’s Morgan Library
  • Clara Hatton Gallery
  • Directions and Glass galleries in the Visual Arts Building
  • Curfman Gallery at the Lory Student Center

To view an online gallery of posters from the CIIP since 1991, visit

Key Concepts : Art is Ordinary

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The United Kingdom’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport, defines culture as an economic resource. Their position is that human creativity is essential, in contrast to the old world view that science, industry and culture are considered distinct. In fact, continuing to categorize human creativity is considered a serious barrier to progress in business, social regeneration and in the arts. “In the era of creative economy, art is ordinary, and there is essentially no difference between the creativity of the entrepreneur, the scientist and the artist” ( This means that creative individuals must work to unleash their creative pursuits by rejecting existing categories and paradigms to pursue new ways of thinking and working. In this model, entrepreneurial and technical skills become essential in the arts and traditional arts skills become critical in business.

“All this means that the role of the artist is changing. The artist is no longer a peculiar outsider, with a magical gift that the state or the rich must protect. Artistic creativity is an ordinary human activity. Playing a musical instrument, writing, making a film—these are specialisms and as with any specialism it’s hard work and some people will be better than others. But creative skill is not magic. It can be taught and learnt.”


Do you think art is ordinary? Right now in Fort Collins (through September 25), you have a great opportunity to contemplate this question! In honor of the 20th anniversary of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, CSU’s University Art Museum received a gift of photographs by the legendary Pop artist Andy Warhol and you can see them along with borrowed examples of his Flower paintings (based on photographs of hibiscus blossoms). Andy Warhol’s art has become such a big part of US visual culture, that today it is easy to ignore how “out of the ordinary” it would have looked when he first created it. Did you know that Warhol used commercial fluorescent paints—not the oil paints that artists were “supposed” to use? His images and ways of making ordinary objects into graphic statements have become so much a part of our visual language that knock-off examples surround us in stores, advertising and interiors. For example, for a price online, you can upload your own photo image, have it transformed into a punchy, brightly colored, Warhol-like canvas, and hang it in your home.

Andy Warhol signing soup can in Fort Collins, 1981, Photo from CSU Library

Andy Warhol signing soup can in Fort Collins, 1981, Photo from CSU Library

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was born “Andrew Warhola,” to Slovakian immigrant parents. He was good at drawing and painting when he was young and later studied at what is now Carnegie Mellon University, continuing onto a career in magazine illustration and advertising. His sensibility for repetition and photo images grew out of mimicking mass advertising.

In the 1960s, when “fine art” and “commercial art” were still considered absolutely distinct categories in a hierarchy of creative expression, Warhol made paintings of famous American products like Campbell’s soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles. Later, he made silkscreen prints of products in order to not only make art about mass produced items but to actually mass produce art. He hired and supervised “art workers” to make prints, shoes, films, and other items at his studio, The Factory in New York City, which became the meeting place for a wide range of artists. Think Mick Jagger, Lou Reed, Truman Capote, Debbie Harry and The Velvet Underground for example. Warhol and other Pop artists challenged established ideas of art—including whether “fine art” could be mechanically reproduced. Ironically, Warhol’s work is now housed in established museums and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh is the largest American art museum dedicated to a single artist! Do you think that debate has been won?

Moreover, long before the “Superstar,” reality television and internet fame possibilities of today, Warhol believed that the media could make any person famous in a cycle of disposable celebrity. He was especially drawn to the images of people in publicity stills and newspapers and to their stories of personal tragedy. He modified photo images to create iconic paintings of Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy and others. However, when he “sampled” a photograph from Modern Photography Magazine, the photographer sued. After that, Warhol took thousands of his own photographs, becoming a prolific photographer to create his own source material, although evidence of this process has not been widely exhibited. Did you know that Warhol often used an ordinary Polaroid camera to photograph friends, who like him, were also celebrities? Don’t miss your opportunity to see examples of how art is ordinary and learn more about Warhol right here in Fort Collins, at CSU’s University Art Museum.

While you are there, think about the relationships between photographer, model, and image. Our understandings of these 3 components of photography reveal much about our cultural definitions of art, artist, and creativity. Is art really ordinary? If art is ordinary, is art education basic to being educated? Where do art and process connect/disconnect? Should art be integrated into life, and everyday life into art?

Who gets to make art? What do you think? We look forward to hearing from you!

Read about Denver-based photographer Mark Sink’s relationship to Warhol—Andy Warhol was his hero.

Read about Warhol’s visit to Fort Collins in 1981.

Read memories of Warhol’s visit to Fort Collins.

The Fort Collins Museum and More Meetup Group

Thanks for the photo estaticist!

Art for all!

Deborah Lombard