Rejecting Stagnation



Steamstitch Studios, Pheonix Asylum, and many other nouns.

Despite its artistic appearances, Boulder has often proved to be prickly and unresponsive to burgeoning artists. Oh sure, there is BMoCA, The Dairy, and Blink (now deceased), but that’s only for the ones who have already made it.  Coffee shops do eagerly help us unknowns get onto walls, and the BPL is there for those in-between, or the 11th grade class of your choosing.

The conspicuous void in my art-map of boulder is community; Where is art community in this town? The more I’ve searched, the more it seems that the Boulder artist is a creature of extreme ego, gentle but unavailable for collaboration or discussion.  Lone wolf artists might see eachother as competition or parasites, or worse, serial-misunderstanders of their unique artistic vision.

I am a different breed; I delight in other’s work, I crave critique, and I desperately want community. Have you found any places or spaces where its about the Art more than the Ego? I don’t know where you’ve found it, but I have found some I’d like to share.

I am part of an art collective called the Phoenix Asylum; They do a lot of burning-man related work, so its largely sculptors; metalworkers and hobbyists who rented and renovated one of the warehouses on the far side of Foothills Parkway (a.k.aed as ‘the moat’).  Within, you’ll find glass blowing, stone sculpture, iron-wrought angels, musicians, illustrators, and homebrewers.

I was extremely surprised to find them, and they’re nice, and cool, and want to talk about art with you. I guess I should say ‘we’, but though I rent space there, I have spent far too little time actually working in my studio given my work schedule (and that’s about to change). Incidentally, swing by 2510 47th St., Unit D/DD (around the corner from Alpine Sports) every second friday of the month; There might be art you like in the openings, and there is always free beer.

I hadn’t seen any art communities that weren’t formed around school-based art clubs in Boulder before, and was excited; Was this new? As I wondered I spotted a sign near my house; A giant iron button inset on a beautifully crafted metal sign that said in classy font, ‘Steamstitch Studios’.

I was. Unbelievably. excited.

Steampunk is among the coolest things I don’t actively participate in (I’m a groupie, though, to be sure) and if my guess was right, there was actually a small group of artists making this stuff together, In Boulder. Near my House!

Finally today I visited them. There was a lone artist there; the other studio mates were absent, but within I found the studio of 3 Boulderite clothes-makers (I guess designers might be better parlance?). The woman I met made the sort of stretchy designer yoga-wear boulder is notorious for, though I admit it was attractive and fashionable, and she showed a passion for cool looking comfort. The other two had work which was colorful and amazing, mysterious and endearing, all things I love and need in both art and women;  I witnessed a ragged modified horse-cart, dolls in various stages of manufacture, and vests undergoing extremely rad steampunk-ification. How was she doing that! I wanted to know. Or help. Anything!

Excited to see such collaboration and vibrance,  I informed the artist of the Phoenix Asylum; She had never heard of it, unsurprisingly. She was going to be so excited there were more groups like this! Open studio communities of artists just making work and struggling through all the least fiscally responsible stages of artistic evolution!

Instead, sadly, her interest was polite and sparse. Boulder, it seems, likes its lone wolf artists, steeped in their private artistic journeys and getting critiques from only the private artistic voices.  Even so, I think, we’re developing into packs and territories… and I want to find them all.

-Lionel

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