Archive for the ‘Everyday Joe’s’ tag
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On Monday morning, we had the very distinct pleasure of speaking with Mary Harnett, past Secretary and Director, now Education Coordinator for CoCOA, the Colorado Coalition of Artists. Mary herself is a fine artist, an oil painter of southwest landscapes here in Fort Collins, and has been with CoCOA from its beginnings as an artist cooperative in 2003.
As with many art groups, CoCOA is relatively unknown in our community, despite considerable outreach efforts into our community. However, this week, they are holding their annual member’s exhibit with their first ever People’s Choice Awards, where visitors to the exhibition at the Poudre River Arts Center Main Gallery can vote on different pieces. If you have time this week, the exhibit runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10-5 each day and CoCOA members will be on hand to answer any questions about the art or artists that you may have. The winners will be announced June 16 at the general meeting.
CoCOA is a non profit, volunteer led and run organization, dedicated to supporting a community of artists in the area. CoCOA was originally a small group of artists who came together at one artist’s studio to do live drawing together. Through this experience, some of the artists, particularly Rachel Herrera, a well known artist in Fort Collins, started the organization and obtained a separate building on Mason Street. From there, CoCOA rented out studio spaces for artists and a space for artists to give workshops and classes as well as continue their core work in live and figure drawing.
CoCOA, as a cooperative of artists, is one tribe of our larger community of artists here in Fort Collins and Northern Colorado. Most artists, are individuals, creating individual pieces and yet, far from competing with each other, in order to survive, artists tend to gather together to support their work. Mary discusses many of these groups in the podcast moving across diverse forms of art – visual arts, music, crafts, theater, fly fishing etc. While it is not common for a diverse range of artists from these groups to perform together in an interdisciplinary fashion, they do tend to enter the community to share their works in similar spaces and events.
In this respect, community partners, especially businesses, are extremely important to such creative groups and communities. Donations, be they financial or products, are important, but CoCOA also uses creative techniques to encourage artists to continue their work. One program invites pledges from individuals for hours of artist time, while another, like the support of Everyday Joe’s, donates space and a portion of sales from a drink named after CoCOA back to the cooperative. Finally, CoCOA has a lecture series for the public featuring artists, psychologists and City representatives who will discuss their Art in Public Places Program.
In the future, CoCOA would like to hold a wildlife exhibit and partner with the Division of Wildlife to continue their community outreach. Volunteers have also gone to schools and the Drug Courts to teach art and these activities are projects CoCOA would like to continue. Perhaps most importantly, like most creative community organizations, CoCOA will need to become more formalized and supported operationally through grants so that they can manage themselves with paid positions as well as volunteers. This is a crucial transition point for such organizations, and as a result, for the sustainability of a creative community and economy.
We hope you enjoy our conversation with Mary about the past, present and future of CoCOA, its partners and like minded artists groups, as well as the actions necessary for supporting a creative community. Please pay a visit to the exhibit at the Poudre River Arts Center to vote in the People’s Choice Awards if you have time this week and check out the beautiful work of our community. As we move through the rest of the year, keep an eye out for opportunities to explore, experience and contribute to our creative endeavors here in Fort Collins and Northern Colorado.
Remember – Art is Us.