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Creativity and Scientific Community

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” all our knowledge has its origin in our perceptions.” Leonardo da Vinci.

Creative people, be they focused in arts, science or both, are grounded in synesthesia or a synergy of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting and sensing things. To create is to extend knowledge, rough up the edges of a form, send practices in new and divergent directions. Creativity, creating minds and creative people remind us to focus on how we relate to each other, carry out our work and contribute as citizens. It’s about the process. Like scientists who conduct many experiments around a single problem, artists often work in series, completing variations around a theme until the artists feels she has exhausted the idea for a while. Revisiting, revising and rethinking are part of an authentic creative experience, as is generating many ideas then choosing among competing priorities.

These processes of revisiting, revising and rethinking are community processes. Like artists who form studios and collectives such as those involved with CoCOA, scientists form research teams and laboratories. The creation of scientific knowledge as laid out by Thoman Kuhn, is dependent on the culture and historical circumstances of groups of scientists rather than on their adherence to a specific, definable method. In describing scientific knowledge this way, Kuhn argued for a blurring of the boundaries between what was considered science and what was not, arguing that there was no such thing as the idealized scientific method. His position was contentious and ignited the scientific community in fierce debates over the nature of their collective enterprise, but also hinted at what a lot of modern and postmodern philosophers now argue, that our creative products like our creative selves, are deeply infused with the contexts and the communities in which we exist.

Over the last few months we have discussed the importance of art in public life, from its ability to communicate place, to its ability to transcend our individual differences and touch the divine human spirit in all of us. Yet it is rare for us to talk about science in the same way. In many ways, ‘art’ and ‘science’ have become separated in our imagination, set against each other as opposite competing poles in ourselves, our minds, our schools, our occupations and our communities. Our capacity to institutionally encapsulate both of them however, (with different intents — one to preserve access and the other to reserve access), lies in common. We create art museums and natural science museums in the interests of educating and serving the public but what if we were to take an ‘art in public places’ approach to science? What would that begin to look like? Moreover, what if we were to recognize the science that lies behind the artist’s ability in terms of technique and the artistry that lies in the scientific life, in terms of creative possibilities? How might our ways of understanding these immensely consequential realms of human activity change?

Here in Colorado, we are lucky enough to have monthly gatherings where we can explore these issues of science, creativity and community process. Science cafés or ‘Cafés Scientifiques’ meet regularly in Colorado Springs, Denver, Boulder and right here in Fort Collins. The first Cafés were held in Leeds, England in 1998. From there, the idea spread to other parts of Europe, North Africa, North and South America, South Asia, Australia, and the Pacific (http://www.cafescientifique.org/world-links.htm). In all these places across the globe, diverse audiences regularly gather to join scientists and writers in discussions that are designed as forums for debating science issues, promoting public engagement with science and making science accountable. Participants meet in cafes, bars, restaurants and other public locations to make scientific discussions accessible and lively. If you’re thinking that a science discussion requires an academic science background, that’s not the point. Many questions and ideas are entertained at the Café Scientifique and people who are not specialists often provide thoughtful perspectives and insight. Gatherings take place to foster an atmosphere where “no question is considered stupid” and science is brought out of the lab and into the public arena for deliberation.

It’s about the creative process!

Thanks for the photos fernandoprats, Wid-78 and jvnunag

Deborah Lombard

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” (creativeclusters.com). 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.”

(creativeclusters.com)

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

Summer Sights and Sounds in Fort Collins

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What’s happening this weekend in Fort Collins?

Well, perhaps you’re a regular participant in First Friday, Old Town Fort Collins, but if you just keep planning to see what it’s all about and don’t manage to get there, this Friday is the next opportunity for you to join in!  On the first Friday of every month between 6-9 p.m., Old Town Fort Collins galleries keep their doors open so that you can see what’s going on with a self-guided tour. The participating Downtown Business Association Member Galleries are Art on Mountain, The Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art, Illustrated Light Gallery, Lincoln Center Galleries, Meko’s Gallery & Framing, and Trimble Court Artisans.  Leap of Faith is also participating and Georgia Rowswell will be there this weekend to meet people…. Where you go and what you choose to see is up to you–get your map here! As John Updike says, “what art offers is space–a certain breathing room for the spirit.” So this Friday, take time to make space and allow the arts in Fort Collins to feed your spirit. First Friday Gallery Walk provides a great way to engage with and celebrate creativity.

"Slide" by Daryl Price

"Slide" by Daryl Price

Have you noticed that no matter how many times you stroll through Old Town, there’s always something to explore?  For example, this Friday evening, Trimble Court Artisans presents a new exhibition of Colorado Miniatures by artist Patsy Barry. At The Center for Fine Art Photography, you can also see the photographs of 39 artists from 4 countries, selected by Chris Jordan for the Works of Man exhibition and experience Poetry Night in the cafe.  If you’d like to take a “peek” at the kind of art and furniture Fort Collins area residents collect, see the exhibition Fort Collins Collects, at FCMOCA. Then, over at Old Town Art and Framery, you can see the original painting used for this year’s Fort Collins Jazz Experience poster and meet the artist Daryl Price at a special reception.  As Peggy Lyle, from the Downtown Business Association, says, “The image is a perfect example of how jazz can transcend music and blossom into many art forms, making jazz a subculture and way of thought.  It perfectly embodies the Fort Collins Jazz Experience’s mission and emphasis.” The list goes on. . .  You could visit the new gallery Kirsten wrote about last week — Leap of Faith on Oak Street, or plan to enjoy the summer evening by listening to local jazz musician Kenny Workman, the scheduled performer for Benny and Jerry’s FAC Concert Series. Old Town Square isn’t the only place to listen to music on Friday night either.  All over Fort Collins you can hear cool sounds, including the The Poudre River Irregulars and Heidi and the Rhythm Rollers at Avo’s, and All that Jazz: Kevin Kerrick and Friends over at The Tap Room (@ Catalyst).  Get more details at the Fort Collins Convention and Visitors Bureau website.

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.
~Erma Bombeck
This weekend is of course Independence Day and Fort Collins’ residents have celebrated community style for generations. On Saturday the 4th in the Fort, if you’re an early riser, don’t miss the local balloon launch at 5:30 a.m. (weather dependent).  There’s also the Firekracker 5k (8:30 a.m.) and kids’ run starting in City Park, along with the 29th Annual Old Timer’s Game at 9:30 a.m. Later, you can head off to Old Town Square and Civic Center Park where festivities kick off at 11 a.m.  There’s something for everyone in the line up for this family celebration with activities and entertainment in Civic Center Park (LaPorte and Mason). Music, gymnastics, a petting zoo, and craft booths are part of the fun of celebrating Independence Day together with neighbors, friends and other residents.  What’s a summer celebration without food, snocones, hotdogs, and a pie eating contest (12:30) to follow?  For the younger crowd, there’ll also be bounce castles, Mountain Kids performances, and hands on games!  The soundtrack to all this fun will come from the Poudre River Irregulars’ Dixieland and Jazz, Mojomama‘s hip shakin’ grooves and the Fort Collins Symphony’s special 4th of July performance.
Of course, in Old Town Square you’ll need blankets, lawn chairs, and sunscreen to enjoy the sunshine, beer garden, and free performances all afternoon until the fireworks finale in City Park.  Celebrate this great big Independence Day bash with Archie Funker, an 11 piece Funky Horn Band, The Delta Sonics, Chicago Style Blues & Swing, and Soul Proprietor, Funk and Soul.  Beginning at dusk, fireworks over City Park Lake will cap off the day.  You can use the free Transfort shuttle service from Downtown Transit Center and CSU Moby Arena parking lot.  Rides begin at 6:30 p.m.
The music won’t just be for the 4th either. This year, a new FREE downtown concert series will keep the music playing in Old Town Square all summer long.  The Old Town Sunday Sounds concert series is planned for Sundays, 2-4 p.m. from July 5 through August 30.  This week, solo artist Kyle Sullivan of SoulFeel initiates the showcase of local performers.  So, you can support local talent, and look forward to Sunday afternoons full of Rockabilly, Rock, Bluegrass, Country, and more!
Make life a celebration!
Thanks for the fireworks photo rosepetal236!
Deborah Lombard

Enterprising creativity

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Enterprise: from entreprendre to undertake, a project or undertaking that is especially difficult, complicated, or risky; readiness to engage in daring or difficult action; initiative; a unit of economic organization or activity; a systematic purposeful activity.

As we have discussed in previous posts about the creative economy and creative communities, at the center of these phenomena lie partnerships between enterprise and creativity, or at least creative and entrepreneurial agents. Such partnerships are also connections between the work we do and the people we are. Many entrepreneurs are highly creative people and many creatives people are also enterprising. That is, both groups take into their own hands (undertake) work they see in need of completion. These people see needs many of us do not; they are also compelled to jump into these voids, in a spirit of true creativity, in order to meet such needs. They spark conversations with their risk taking, and in doing so, open up new conversations about how we should think and be together. Some are driven by the imagination of individuals, others by familial bonds, but all by a deep passionate commitment to making a part of the world just a little more livable for all of us.

In these late modern times, we are so concerned with the economic dimensions of society that we see entrepreneurial activity in terms of start-up businesses and industrial clusters. Indeed, it does not take much to see all the entrepreneurial sprouts in green technology in Fort Collins. All of them innovative ideas driven by pressing social and economic needs, both here and abroad. These creative enterprises (yes, creative, because they are bringing to life new forms) are highly vulnerable and like most creative enterprises and entrepreneurs of old, dependent on benefactors and sponsors for their continuing production. To keep their creative and economic fires burning, they organize in clusters such as RMI2, Clean Tech, and Bio.

Artists also, no matter of what stripe, seek the same cluster of familiarity in order to support each other in their fragile early careers as we have discussed in terms of the diverse artist groups and collectives that exist in Northern Colorado.  For example, in a small arcade on Oak Street, near the Taj Mahal, a new gallery called Leap of Faith Fine Art Gallery features a diverse group of upcoming artists, offering them a chance to display their work for low fees. There is local photography by Mike Murphy, Paul Weber and James Leveillee; original paintings from David Fedeli, Dave Reiter, Don Brown, Bereniche Aguiar and Connie Uroze; as well as ceramic sculpture from Don Campbell, alabaster by Karin Troendle and hand crafted oil candles by Lady D. My son fell in love with a river scene coffee table by Robert Franklin while the work of Georgia Rowswell inspired me. Stop by and check out their work! Leap of Faith is currently running a ‘people’s choice’ contest with different works of art until the end of June. Each artist in the contest submits a piece for $5 and then the public votes on their choice. The winner is awarded the pot of submissions! These contests are held every 2 months, so if you would like to enter, contact the folks at Leap of Faith at 970.493.LEAP or leapoffaith@q.com.

Finally, there is perhaps a quintessential meeting of enterprising creativity at the French Nest Market, held in the Civic Center Park from 9am to 3 pm every second Saturday between July and October (July 11th, August 8th, September 12th, and October 10th). It’s the allure of Paris in the springtime transported to Northern Colorado, featuring an open-air vintage, antique, and artisan market. As Alissa Bush, co-owner puts it, “It’s a destination. A place where you can spend the entire morning; a little shopping, a little eating….” So, if you are interested in vintage, antique, new, unique, funky, homemade, handmade, or otherwise made goods and if you’re local, eco-friendly, and/or ultra-hip, the French Nest Open-Air Market may be just the place for you! The French Nest group of entrepreneurs will take care of the enterprise part so you can do the creative part and get your work known in Northern Colorado! For more information, email info@thefrenchnestmarket.com.

I hope to see you there!

With thanks to Bob.Fornal and tanakawho for their wonderful images :)

Here’s to enterprising creativity in everyday life!

Kirsten Broadfoot

Curiosity and Creativity: The Hidden Gems of Communities

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Last week when I interviewed Tom Borrup and he discussed the impact of globalization as well as the ways in which all communities have often untapped and obscured pockets of creativity, I was reminded of the ways in which my own community manages to surprise me on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

Recently I read a research brief by Maria Rosario Jackson on the impacts on arts on communities. Sometimes we think that the creativity of a community lives in artist neighborhoods, amateur arts practices and companies, even audience participation in downtown venues and events; but in fact, creativity lives and runs through not only these events but some more ‘mundane’ places and practices as well. For both Tom Borrup and Maria Rosario Jackson, these pockets of everyday cultural creativity are reservoirs for the creative spirit and presence of multicultural diversity in ‘our homes’.  They can be festivals, gatherings, community celebrations, informal but recurrent gatherings in parks and community centers, church based artistic activities — anything that maintains and invents group traditions. As Maria Rosario Jackson puts it, these are ” often important aspects of communities that go overlooked and are missed only when they are gone.”

These simpler forms of community arts and creativity provide important grounding devices for newcomers as well — they communicate home, help build social capital and individual as well as collective efficacy in terms of making a home for one’s family. They also socialize newcomers into dimensions of work and the working life of the community, mitigate crime and improve public safety. I remember living in Japan and even in the early hours of the morning, there were always lights on in houses, people out in the streets talking and walking. You were never alone. Someone was always watching for you. You were always safe.

When we first moved to Fort Collins, we lived in Colorado State University Village where many international families make their homes. The same sense of community prevails there also. Residents attend multicultural events, celebrating all their diverse cultures; children learn new games and ways of working with diverse others and languages; residents share belongings, food, toys, children run around all day between the buildings, in and out of homes, gardens and communal spaces. Everyone shares in the responsibility of the community.

This weekend I went to the International Children’s Carnival and as always, I am amazed at the diversity of people present. Sometimes when I attend these events, I can barely believe that this is the Fort Collins in which I live. The rich tapestry of peoples, languages and performances that surrounds me at these events ground myself and my family in what we consider ‘our world home’ and remind us of the often unseen gems of our community. Over the course of April, we encourage you to take some detours in your everyday life and walk some less familiar paths, sharing in some diverse celebrations of art, crafts, narrative, architecture and performance. Just this week alone, the Traveling Heritage Quilt Project presences itself in our community, there is our usual First Friday Gallery Walk on the 3rd, the Fort Collins Museum and Open Stage Theatre present “The Move to Fort Collins – Local History Stories of Immigration” and we celebrate the first open house of the Museo de las Tres Colonias this Saturday. Finally, OpenStage Theatre & Company begins their season of Anon(ymous) which will run over the course of this month.

Remember…Wherever you go, there you are!

With thanks to strollerdos and Ana Carol Mendes for their wonderful images!

Kirsten Broadfoot

Tom Borrup talks about creative economy and rejuvenating communities!

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Listen to the podcast:

Welcome to the first podcast for this blog, featuring Tom Borrup, a leader and innovator in non-profit community and cultural work for over twenty-five years. Tom’s work explores the intersections between

culture, community building, and economic development  and he consults with foundations, nonprofits and public agencies across the U.S. in strategic planning and program evaluation. He has been especially involved with projects nurturing artists and other cultural assets in diverse urban communities, and has served on multiple boards for arts funding and leadership development. Over the course of his career, Tom has consulted with the Rockefeller, Ford, Wallace, and Andy Warhol Foundations, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He received his B.A. in Liberal Arts from Goddard College, and continued there to receive his M.A. in Communications and Public Policy. Tom currently teaches for the Graduate Program in Arts Administration at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, and for the Institute for Arts Management at the University of Massachusetts.

When we talked with Tom, we asked him about his views on creative economy and its influence in contemporary times. He shared with us the ways in which the forces of globalization have forced communities to focus on and encourage their multicultural nature as a source of creative efforts and perspectives as well as a continual source of inspiration and learning. Our increasing knowledge of the world around us is forcing us as individuals and communities to revisit the ways in which we function and to think creatively as we adapt new ideas and new cultures into our lives. For Tom, this perspectival shift is becoming central to community survival.

Creativity is about being inquisitive and being open to new ideas as well as new ways those ideas can be put together. Artists are central to the sustenance of creativity as this is part of their natural way of working and being as individuals. Thriving communities are open and welcoming to new ideas and new people. Cultural celebrations bring people together and are a baseline ingredient for encouraging a true sense of community. Tom shares with us several examples from his work over the years as well as how different arts organizations and community initiatives encourage creative communities to thrive. We hope you will learn as much as we did about participating in community based arts from Tom and look forward to seeing you all at our own Finding Home celebrations over the month of April!

With thanks to frenchista and pbo31 for the images!

Kirsten Broadfoot

A snapshot of creativity in community arts projects…

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A recent article in the Calgary Herald discussed how we are entering a conceptual age dominated by the ideas of collaboration, creativity, innovation and invention. Sometimes we like to think that the ‘creative classes’ and ‘creatives’ that will spearhead this coming age are born that way, but the reality of creativity is that it is a fundamental part of what makes us human and humane, what brings us together at philosophical, physical and emotional levels and which, therefore, flourishes in a supportive environment (as do we!).

It is therefore, considered, in these challenging economic times, a desperate time for the arts; and yet, as the people of Melbourne, Australia ( a city of considerable artistic flavor and character in my own eyes!) can attest, creativity can thrive even in a recession. Indeed, different and difficult times and economic conditions bring forth different kinds of people and different cultures. We find ourselves, as the most recent Economist attests, in ‘interesting times’, as old forms of work fall away and new work waits to be imagined. In the recession of the 1990s, Melbourne found itself losing people in droves as they moved north to the brighter lights of Sydney and yet what people love most about Melbourne now emerged exactly from that time of migration. Melbourne’s development of its live venues, outdoor cafes and bars, smart graffiti and street art, its distinctive inner suburbs (check out St Kilda if you get a chance!) and eclectic shops was not a result of large scale, fully funded arts agencies and progressive central planning, but more the vibrant, hard working, low budget working ethos of the city’s creatives and those inspired by their work which held the city’s character in place in the face of some dark economic days.  Melbourne’s experimentation and risk-taking provided the grounds for its innovative spirit and community, even in the face of an uncertain and unknown future.

Recently, both in the UK and in the US, on both small and large scales, community arts projects have engaged in some similar kinds of grassroots community efforts to kick start conversations around art, creativity, place, identity and community. In Kansas City, for example, Kacico Dance Company holds a 3-C (creativity + community + coffee) hour at its studios for an hour of communal creativity where creative people from all walks of life are invited to do their creative thing in a common space. Coffee and creativity flow and community is created as movers/dancers, writers, visual artists, musicians, architects, engineers, graphic designers, observers, people who meditate, thinkers, and martial artists all come together to create, be inspired by others’ creativity, meet other creative people, and do something different.

In a similar but different way, an interdisciplinary community arts project in Charleston entitled “The Future Is on the Table” organized by Charleston’s Jean-Marie Mauclet and Gwylène Gallimard, brought a number of artists to South Carolina from England, France, India and South Africa to work with local communities around the concept of gift exchange and the themes of water and shelter, and included local artists as well. These conversations borne of diverse partners, reminded the people of Charleston of the cultural walls that divide them and their community around these difficult issues.

Speaking of divisions and perspectives, in order to get some perspective on his own particular space in Trafalgar Square, Anthony Gormley, designer of the Angel of the North which we discussed in an earlier blog post, outlined his new project entitled “One and Other”, which involves inviting individuals to spend an hour on the top of the Fourth Plinth to ‘ see the place from the perspective of art’.

Many of these art projects are about the democratization of art and how the creativity of our communities comes down to individuals participating in artistic conversations, projects and discussions, of having access to creative thinkers and artistic spaces and engaging art on their terms and from its perspective. With that thought in mind, we hope to encourage you to take in the First Friday Art Walk here in Fort Collins sometime, catch the galleries and artists, spend some time in our public spaces, check out live performances and think about how to engage your own creativity in this community! Click here for a wonderful list of all the people waiting to meet you in our creative community!

With thanks to jef_safi for his wonderful image!

Kirsten Broadfoot

Do something unexpected in the next 2 weeks! (aka Be Creative!)

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“All creative people want is to do the unexpected” – Hedy Lamarr

As mentioned earlier this week on our blog on the connections between art, place and identity, we thought we would draw your attention to some of the creative community programs and events coming up between now and the middle of March which might just encourage your own creativity!

First, the annual Great Plates series comes to town, running March 1-14, and this year is dedicated to the Food Bank for Larimer County. Great Plates participants will be encouraged to “leave their change” after enjoying great dinner specials downtown. In case you were wondering, the Food Bank for Larimer County can provide a meal for a member of our community for as little as 25 cents. A $10 donation will provide 40 meals for our community!

Then, on March 10, the very creative chameleon and master of multiple identities, Frank Abagnale, on whose life the movie ‘Catch Me If You Can’ was based, will be in town at the Lincoln Center discussing just how our identities, once disconnected from space and place as well as communities, can become highly malleable and put to not so industrious or legal ends.

Finally, Beet Street, the Northside Aztlan Community Center and the Cinco de Mayo Committee in line with getting in touch with our collective stories and immigrant lives encourage all members of the Fort Collins Community to create a square for the community quilt and art project which will be on display through April and May coinciding with our series on ‘Finding Home’. The quilt is open to everyone, of all ages and we hope will become an artistic manifestation of our rich, diverse, interwoven lives. Quilting is a traditional art, still practiced today and something that lies at the heart of family life. We hope you will join us in this endeavor. Blank quilting squares can be found at  El Centro, (in Lory Student Center), CSU; FCMOCA at 201 South Collage Avenue; Fort Collins Senior Center at 1200 Raintree Drive; Harmony Library Branch at 4616 S. Shields; the Main Library Branch at 201 Peterson Street; the Museo de las Tres Colonias at 425 10th Street and Northside Aztlan Community Center at 112 Willow Street. Please deliver your completed quilt square to one of the aforementioned locations by March 13 to be a part of this exciting community project!

So, as you can see, the next 2 weeks are full of creative ways to celebrate people, place and identity through engaging in good causes, good food and good stories. If we’re lucky we’ll also continue with the good weather!

As Jon Kabat-Zinn once said, “wherever you go, there you are!”

Kirsten Broadfoot

Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief….video

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Or so goes the children’s rhyme of old….However, as the life of Frank Abagnale shows, it is a little more complex than that. With his appearance 3 weeks away, we thought we would do a David Letterman style, Top 10 reasons to go see Frank Abagnale:

10. He has been an advisor to and associated with, the FBI for over 30 years – the dude knows things.

9. Through his own advising others on the nature and conduct of fraud, he has raised enough money to pay back all those he scammed over his criminal career – the dude’s determined.

8.  He got his first legitimate job working for a bank by offering to show them how people defrauded them and advising them that if his advice was useless, they would owe him nothing; otherwise they would pay him $500 and tell other banks about him – the dude knows how to market himself.

7. He left the choice of where to be paroled up to the courts and ended up in Texas – the dude’s got courage.

6. He got a job at the office of the state attorney general of Louisiana at the age of 19 after taking 8 weeks to pass the bar exam – the dude’s smarter than smart.

5. For nearly a year he impersonated a pediatrician in a Georgia Hospital under an alias – the dude’s a heck of a performance artist.

4. Between the ages of 16-18, he flew over a million miles to 26 countries through a process known as ‘deadheading’ where pilots catch flights to other destinations from which they are supposed to depart; all at Pan Am’s expense – the dude knows how to move.

3. His first major confidence trick involved writing personal checks on his own overdrawn account, and then modifying bank deposit slips so they showed his account number – the dude’s creative.

2. His first victim was his father and involved illegitimate purchases for a truck. He blamed it on the girls and the temptation they posed him – the dude has a way with words.

And finally, the number 1 reason you should go and see Frank Abagnale, as evidenced in this video, the dude can tell a story and in this troubled times, we could do with some good ones!

So, click here to buy your ticket now!  For more information on our 2009 speaker series, click here to go to our website!

Have fun!

Kirsten Broadfoot

Raising a Creative Economy

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“the Creative Economy at its best, is about communities taking responsibility for their condition and creating meaningful work and a viable economy with the most powerful resources at their disposal. These include the distinct nature and culture of their place, and the creativity of the people — all the while welcoming and learning from those who pass through or who decide to stay” (Tom Borrup, 2009).

When we say someone or something is creative, what do we mean? Imaginative? Innovative? Inventive? Artistic? Fantastic?


Now imagine these adjectives combined with the word ‘economy’ (meaning management of the house)….imaginative economy, inventive economy, artistic economy, fantastic economy…. getting the idea?

The term and phenomenon of the “creative economy” describes industries that have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent, and have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation of ideas, products and/or services. These industries and activities are critical not only because of their contribution to the knowledge economy which is in the process of engulfing the globe, but also because of their capacity for urban and civic regeneration, the preservation of cultural heritage and cultural identity and the creation of places and communities as ‘destinations’. Tom Borrup consults, teaches, and writes about community transformation, cultural infrastructure, and the creative economy. He believes that the creative economy grounds itself in an active community of artists, an eternal and constant spring of respect for indigenous/multiple cultures, and finally and most importantly, cultural and economic equity.

In their recent report on the state of the arts in Colorado, the Colorado Council on the Arts issued some surprising statements on the nature of the creative economy in our communities. Indeed, it seems that Colorado is actually quite a creative state, ranking 5th nationally in terms of the concentration of artists overall; 2nd in concentration of architects, 7th in concentration of writers, designers, entertainers and performers, and 8th in concentration of photographers. Interestingly only New York, California, Massachusetts and Vermont rank higher. Here in the Northwest of Colorado, we grow arts and music festivals, visual artists hang down in the Southwest corner where the red rocks, white snow, and green pines blind us with their beauty and the literati hang in the center of the state, inspired by the clear air of the mountains and lakes.

These creative activities, industries, communities and populations are sustained through their emotional and aesthetic appeal to others as they engage in work which is inherently creative and artistic. Why is such work meaningful? Because long before we were literate, art and our artistic endeavors formed the base of a universal language and a dominant form of communicating place, identity, purpose and membership. Tom Borrup believes that creative economies and communities hold onto the distinctiveness of place, remain open to learning and reinvention and accept new ideas from unlikely places, forming common and strong bonds between those involved in local cultural practices and the economic livelihood of their communities. Drawing from the Houston based Project Row Houses, Borrup proposes that in creative communities and economies, art and creativity are woven into the very fabric of life through rituals, ceremony and other utilitarian activities; quality education and strong neighborhoods sustain social safety nets for the community and facilitate social responsibility; economic development is essential for all residents both present and future and architecture as a social practice, should make sense of and preserve a community’s character.

So, make 2009 your year to raise the arts and creative life of your community – check out our website to see and experience the extraordinary offerings here for you – see a show, hear a speaker, go to a festival, and bring your friends!

With thanks to Amanda Woodward and *Sally M* for their fantastic art!

Kirsten Broadfoot