Archive for the ‘creativity’ tag
Our recently launched website, Arts Incubator of the Rockies (AIR), has been growing rapidly—now incorporating almost 600 members. The website includes a variety of great resources designed for all artists and art-based organizations, not only for inspiration and motivation, but also for connecting and succeeding. This regional arts incubator is a wonderful opportunity for artists to utilize many tools in one convenient website.
Recently, we have added a helpful and comprehensive website tour to the homepage. This tour, guided by our own Executive Director, Beth Flowers, walks viewers through the website features and functionality. If you have never visited the website before, have casually browsed it, or have recently become a member, this tour is the perfect chance to learn the power of the website and how to use it.
We are still in the midst of our membership drive and are recruiting as many people as possible. There is no force to commit. Though paid members have access to more features and benefits, free memberships still include a great base of available resources. So please, visit the website, and take the tour to help get you immersed in AIR.
Despite construction closures and tremendous traffic jams, people came out to the streets Friday night to hear a variety of Streetmosphere musicians. This was the first weekend of the summer where the majority of performers have been musical, with Susan K. Dailey being the only visual artist on the lineup.
People loved the unique sounds of the four musical groups: MDT 3, the Steve Johnson Group, the Fort Collins Four Tuba Quartet, and the String Quartet Con Brio.
I’ve already written about the Fort Collins Four Tuba Quartet and the Steve Johnson Group, but MDT 3 and the String Quartet Con Brio deserve some attention.
Tim Van Schmidt is a craftsman, and a freelance writer and photographer. He specializes in writing about contemporary music on the local and national level. An experienced writer, Van Schmidt wrote for The Coloradoan as the music columnist, for the Fort Collins Forum as the entertainment columnist, as well as edited for Scene Magazine, of which he is a co-founder. Since then, Van Schmidt has been publishing his writing and photographs online.
Van Schmidt’s photography career really blossomed because of his writing. When attending concerts to write a review, he was always asked, “Do you also want a photo pass?” Since then, he has photographed many artists, such as Clapton, Springsteen, U2 – and of course our Streetmosphere performers!
Tim followed the end of the 2011 Streetmosphere program and photographed eight of the performers in Old Town. This year, Van Schmidt says that “checking up on Streetmosphere is a regular part of my summer!!” He has photographed twenty-two of our artists so far in both our downtown and Front Range Village locations.
Live music is what keeps Van Schmidt ticking, and Fort Collins doesn’t disappoint. Out of the hundreds of cities he has visited, he says that “Fort Collins has gone way beyond the average city.” Our city provides programs like Noontime Notes in Oak Street Plaza, concerts in Old Town square, FOCOMX, Bohemian Nights at New West Fest, and of course Streetmosphere to promote live music and its native artists.
Van Schmidt enjoys the diversity and accessibility Streetmosphere offers and says that “it would be a crime not to take advantage of what is offered in so much abundance.”
This past Friday, I began my internship with Beet Street. What a fun night to start out!There were performances and artists to pique anyone’s interest. My favorite, however, had to be MDT3.
MDT3 is a jazz trio made up of Ron Holleman (trumpet), Chuck Landgraf (drums), and Tim Gauthier (guitar). These gentlemen have been involved in the Colorado jazz scene for quite some time now and they each belong to multiple bands besides MDT3. They name their group after Ron’s marquis instrument: the Morrison Digital Trumpet (MDT). Though Ron is a very talented trumpeter, he played the MDT just about as often as he did his traditional instruments on Friday.
Bright colors, towering animal faces, and wood chips lined College Avenue this weekend, while as many as 4 artists worked away with Half Moon Arts. The local non-profit, run by Rose Moon, works with at-risk youth, ages 13-21, to create an environment both artistic and imaginative.
The program utilizes the process of making totem poles to inspire the participants. From a log of wood, they carve out a unique world, followed by a heaping amount of colorful paint. Creativity is highly encouraged, helping to promote self-esteem and healing. The work produced by these amazing young people sells through local events, allowing for feelings of accomplishment and success. The organization has been commissioned to make totem poles for many organizations in town as well, such as the Fort Collins Cat Rescue.
Ukulele strums could be heard throughout Old Town Square Saturday afternoon, followed by a smooth voice singing the words to Paramore’s “The Only Exception”. This unlikely combination resulted in a unique cover by Florida native, Carolyn Lauttenbach, which had crowd members of all ages nodding, clapping and dancing along. Throughout the rest of the set, Carolyn did a mix of classic and popular covers, as well as original material, occasionally trading the ukulele for an acoustic guitar.
This Saturday, on the corner of Mountain and College, directly in front of Cache Bank, a group of people sat in a circle, each with a string instrument in hand. These people, the members of CROMA (Central Rockies Old-Time Music Association), drew in a crowd with their infectious old-time tunes and occasional tap dancing.
The relaxed vibe of the “jam circle” encouraged onlookers to surround the musicians. Whether they stood against the walls of the bank or sat on the benches that lined the planters in the shade, people could not help but stop and take in the festive plucking of strings and tap dancing. Some members of the crowd even stopped and joined in, tap dancing along with the members of CROMA.
“So, do you think Carolyn Lattenbach is cool?”
This was the question posed to a young boy, about the age of 5, at Oak Street Plaza on Saturday, as people found a seat or a place to dance and listened to the musical stylings of singer/songwriter Carolyn Lattenbach. Hailing from Tampa Bay, Florida, the young artist brought both her guitar and ukulele as well as an impressive voice out on the town. Performing covers as diverse as Gary Jules’ Mad World and Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean, as well as original compositions, she gathered a large crowd that stuck around for most of the afternoon. Easy going and friendly, Lattenbach not only impressed with her music but also her familiarity, actively talking to the audience and cracking jokes during her set. At one point, she told the crowd, “Now this is an original, and it’s not a very nice song. But it’s played on a ukulele, and whatever you play on a ukulele sounds happy!”
So when asked if he thought Lattenbach was cool, the boy’s answer, with a giant smile spread across his face, was a strong and resounding, “Yeah!”
We all have probably heard of the importance of music in schools. Students who study music are opened up to a world of creativity that can enhance learning in other subjects. Our own Poudre School District in Fort Collins offers various music programs to its students, including extracurricular opportunities for bands and choirs, but there is one group going above and beyond to showcase musical talent in our schools.
Over one year ago, Suna Thomas and staff members from Kinard Middle School noticed that many students had musical talents but were unable to play in traditional school bands. Some kids had been playing instruments such as guitar and bass for many years, but had no outlet for their creativity and talent within the school system. With the support of the Fort Collins community, the hopes of Suna and many students became a reality- one month ago, Kinard Middle School formed the Poudre School District’s first “House Band.”
Auditions were held, and 7 students were picked to participate in this unique music program. Instruments include guitar, bass, piano, keyboards, electric drums, and even electric violin. Instructor David Parsons leads the House Band, and holds rehearsal twice a week. Not only do the band members regularly show up to practice, which is held before classes begin in the morning, according to Suna they often show up early, and enthusiastically get in as much play time as they can. That is serious dedication!
And all the hard work is definitely beginning to pay off for these kids. The Kinard Middle School House Band is generating a ton of buzz in Fort Collins, earning support from the Fort Collins Music Association, Colorado Contemporary Music College, Shaped Music, Chipper’s Lanes, Valpak, and Northern Colorado radio station KISS FM. Even local music instructors and lots of music stores around town have lent tremendous support. The response to the House Band in such a short period of time demonstrates both the student’s amazing musical ability and the willingness of organizations and individuals in Fort Collins to step up and support aspiring musicians.
We look forward to hearing more from these students in the coming months. There is work to be done as the House Band continues to perfect their sound, and as the program seeks to gain more support through events and fundraisers. There is a huge need for us to foster musical endeavors such as these as they get off the ground. As Suna noted, “no one has ever done this before.” The ability of everyone at Kinard Middle School to build this program organically is truly impressive, and deserves the continuing support of Fort Collins.
The ultimate goal of the House Band program is to encourage students in their chosen activities, even when they do not fit into the “typical” system of school extracurriculars. Suna said, “We hope that the success that is achieved at Kinard will be a catalyst for others to follow in our footsteps and give more of these type of talented kids the same opportunity to be recognized.” Just imagine how it must feel for any student to know that their own interests are supported and encouraged by their own community.
Check out the Kinard Middle School House Band’s amazing musical talent here! You can also see them play live early next year, as they have been invited to perform during intermission at a Colorado Eagles game! Beet Street will be keeping you updated on event details as this program continues to grow.
If you would like more information on how you can support the House Band program, please contact us here at Beet Street. After all, recognizing talents of all kinds is vital to inspiring true creativity and learning.
Fort Collins is one of many cities around the world where citizens and economic development initiatives such as Beet Street work to distinguish a city as an “intellectually vital community that fosters, celebrates, and inspires human creativity through diverse cultural experiences and programming.” These endeavors have wonderful implications for present and future citizens and economies where cultural events and programs provide opportunities for intellectual and business growth. But growing a vital community requires continual mental work and the kind of creative thinking that asks us to stretch and reevaluate what we think we already know and understand about ourselves. Diverse cultural experiences and programs ask participants to see things from new perspectives, because seeing things from new perspectives is fundamental to inspiring human creativity. Multiple approaches to history, ideas and living together lead to multi-faceted, individualistic or even idiosyncratic points of view that complicate ideas about who we are and who is allowed to define the parts of our collective culture. When opposing histories and experiences are routinely acknowledged and valued, it is more likely that people will become involved, more interested and more active in the cultural life of a city. So what happens in a city where past economic and historical experiences create seemingly vast divides in how individual citizens create a sense of place?
Linz, Austria is an interesting example of a city where history could create seemingly irreconcilable differences. Since 1985, one or two cities across Europe have been selected to represent Europe as “European Capital of Culture” for a year, with the list of future capitals until the year 2019 already named. The aim of this program is to “showcase the richness, variety and similarities of European cultures and help European citizens to gain a better understanding of one another.” This year, Linz is the European Capital of Culture and in its efforts to attract visitors and host diverse Europeans, the city has chosen to openly address the fact that it does not exist in a social, historical and political vacuum. This means that although arts and cultural events are part of creating exciting and memorable celebrations, Linz is consciously addressing the fact that how it promotes itself as well as who is considered important in the city will have lasting effects. That is, Linz is actively preparing for the future by coming to terms with its past rather than passively letting “history repeat itself.” In the past, Linz existed as a “Führerstadt” or “Führer City,” encircled by the extermination camps of Mauthausen, Gusen, Ebensee and Hartheim. Today, architectural evidence of the crimes of the past mingle with contemporary life in Linz and its vicinity. For example, “Hitlerbauten,” the industrial facilities of the VOEST built on the foundations provided by the “Hermann Göring Werke,” and other seemingly uncontroversial public buildings, were constructed from materials like granite—materials that concentration camp prisoners paid for with their lives.
Historically, the concentration camp Mauthausen was the final destination for deportees from all over Europe and this year, the city of Linz would like more Europeans to visit the area. They could have chosen to ignore the past and only focus on celebrating arts and culture in collective denial. Instead, they are attempting to find new ways of talking about the past that defy collective amnesia and are relevant to both the region and the rest of Europe. Projects are making sure that people have accurate knowledge of the past but go further than allowing people to merely evade guilt. Leaders in Linz have identified their task as that of encouraging discussion about the developments and social mechanisms that made it possible for historical events to occur in the first place. They want participants to question the ideology underpinning the Nazi era, and make connections to how it continues to subtly affect and inform European societies to this day.
For example, the mission statement for Linz09 identifies that history will be dealt with by using different narrative styles, including “the polemical, factual, sober and provocative.” Different projects throughout the year are intended to encourage diverse audiences to engage with the area from new perspectives. The idea is that cultural discourse can exist in multiple forms that include dissent or feeling uncomfortable. One project supported by federal and national funding, “The Invisible Camp,” is designed to reactivate the hidden memory of parts of the region where citizens now live and relax. Using an i-Pod, visitors walk through residential developments listening to a soundtrack of reminiscences from survivors and witnesses as to what happened there. The voices include present day inhabitants, soldiers and even members of the SS who were responsible for sending people to concentration camps. The stories bring to life what is normally left unsaid and visitors cannot ignore what they can no longer physically see. You can visit Linz, the city that Hitler wanted to make his cultural capital, to explore its museums, cyberart Ars Electronica center, street celebrations, cultural and religious sights and even tour the city from above on rooftop scaffolding. You can also be asked or ask uncomfortable questions.
Another project in Linz uses signs to make a point. During 2009, the most important access routes leading into Linz will be relabelled. The new street names use languages that are “foreign” to many of the city’s citizens in order to bring attention to the present day ethnic complexity of Linz. The proactive goal for the signs is to point out that the reality of living in Linz demands the “kind of democratic attitude that is so needed and so necessary in all areas of a life lived together rather than merely side by side.” The project also works as a test case to determine how cosmopolitan the majority of Linzers really are as hosts to the rest of Europe. It’s an exciting examination of cultural identity–real and perceived! You can read more about Linz09 here. If Linz can combine tourism and address conflict while celebrating contemporary life, do you think cities of all sizes and in other parts of the world can put their model to use?
Art and community make life!