How did he do that? Artist Greg Wasil explains his process.

Guest blogger Greg Wasil walks us through his artistic process for his recent work “Lug Nut” in our Rolling Route 40: The Hubcap Art Show.

Lug Nut, Greg WasilCONTEMPLATION:

I have been saving stuff for many years.
Mostly car stuff, but really anything interesting.
Then I heard about the hubcap show at 40 West Arts District.
I had a big box of hubcaps and knew I could do this.
It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
I just started putting hubcaps on the floor and rearranging them until it looked good.
I had two matching caps and put them down as eyes.
Now I had the eyes, but how would I make a nose, a mouth?
I just kept trying different caps in place to look like a face, but it did not seem complete laying on the floor.
After many attempts I had something that looked good, but it still needed more.
I can see things in my head but I have a hard time drawing them, but I got a pencil and paper and scratched out an outline of a face, drew in the hubcaps, and had what I wanted.

ACTION:Lug Nut, Greg Wasil

I got some plywood, drew out my shape, and cut it with my reciprocating saw.
Then some sand paper to smooth the edges and it was time to put the hubcaps on.
I put the caps on, but it did not look right, so a little sanding and playing with different things and I had my face.
It still needed something.
I got some stain for the plywood, put in some red pearl paint I use for auto work, and stained the face.
Much better.
Now I had to make all the hubcaps stay on.
First I tried to glue them, but when I picked it up and the plywood started to bend, they all fell off.
Now that was not going to work, so on to plan two, screw them on.
I did not want screws showing so I had to screw them on from the back.
Easier said than done.
I had to measure where I wanted everything, drill holes, and screw it together.
It looked good, but was still missing something, hair.
Off I go looking for hair.
In the corner I had a bucket of lug nuts and after several try’s, had what I needed, but how to put them on?
I got screws, put them in from the front, and glued the lug nuts to them.
It only took me about ten hours to complete, but it took me weeks to plan and make “Lug Nut” look like I wanted it to.

Greg Wasil
WAZ
justsomethingdifferent.com

Greg Wasil learned early to love the world of metal and machines. His father was a welder and passed to Greg the pleasures of making, shaping, getting dirty, and working with his hands. Greg transforms metal and other materials to craft large and small sculptures. You can read his full artist statement and look at more of his work here: www.justsomethingdifferent.com

New Gallery Finds a Home in 40 West Arts District

Let’s jump right into the core of the matter; Faye Crowe is a talented artist (she’s also an award-winning architect). When I step into her dual-purpose business and art studio, I’m blown away by the oil paintings on the walls. A series of landscapes in the rear of the space take on an almost abstract, varnished quality and the use of color is inspiring. Additionally, I’m drawn to two side-by-side cowboy paintings. Tucked away in one corner, they appear almost as an afterthought but again the vibrant use of color combined with strong brush strokes draw my eye immediately.

Faye standing in front of some of her pieces.

Faye standing in front of some of her pieces.

Faye Crowe is a pleasure to talk to in person. She speaks confidently, but casually about her artwork, telling me that although she’s been pursuing art since before college, she took it up seriously about five years ago. “It’s a second career,” she confides to me, “and a passion.” Faye reveals that she’s influenced by her career in architecture, and by the beauty in the surrounding Colorado and New Mexico landscapes. “My paintings do carry an abstract bent,” she informs me.

Faye speaks even more passionately regarding the West Colfax Corridor. “I was on the planning committee years ago so I’ve always followed the West Corridor. I’m so happy [to] move my office and studio here. It’s so much easier than other parts of the city to get around.”

Faye tells me that with proximity to downtown Denver and the mountains, a diverse and beautiful mix of housing, and multiple options for travel including the new light rail line, the West Colfax Corridor presents an ideal location for her.

She is just as enthusiastic when it comes to 40West Arts District. “I realized after my first meeting with 40West that this was going to be a dynamic group,” she relates to me. “I love the bragging rights – saying that I’m in the 40West Arts District. It’s a great marketing tool.” Faye also speaks to the work the Arts District is doing, telling me that it’s beneficial for both the neighborhood and for individual artists.

Regarding both the West Colfax Corridor and 40West Arts, Faye decisively states, “Our time has come. It’s time to be discovered.” And with our recent certification as a Colorado Creative District (read more here), the discovery of 40West Arts District is not just here and now, it’s official.

Take a look at my pictures of Faye’s beautiful and dynamic space. She’s right next to the 40West Arts Gallery and plans to hold workshops and art openings in her new space.

Faye Crowe Fine Art
1528 Teller Street
Lakewood, CO 80214
www.fayecrowefineart.com
Hours: By appointment only. Please email to schedule. Information on her website.

40W Artist in Residence Triggers Inspiration, Free of Charge

A former painting teacher of mine once told me that artists require three things: talent- which you need little of, practice- which you need tons of, and teaching- which isn’t required but absolutely helps.

Classes stimulate our mental senses, break down concepts that can otherwise take years to master, and increase our awareness of artists and the art community. Even better when the class is free.

Artist in Residence Ryan Mathews

Artist in Residence Ryan Mathews

And because I love all things art (and all things free) I’m enthusiastic for the 40W Arts District Studio Sessions, a series of classes taught by Artist in Residence Ryan Mathews and held at varying locations throughout the year. These courses represent one of the many facets of 40W Arts District and highlight our commitment to education, community engagement, and energetic growth with the arts as a catalyst.

I attended an inaugural session at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design and found the class to be delightfully straightforward and hands-on. A creative current charged the air and I noticed a palpable sense of shared accomplishment as artists worked together around the large wooden printmaking board, scraping away negative space and growing the design together. I increased my skills in printmaking (which were zero before this session) and walked away with a little bit of inspiration of my own.

The next three sessions are coming up soon so check out details below to mark your calendar. Don’t forget to take a look at pictures from the printmaking class!

 

Click here to learn more about our Artist in Residence program.

Click here to find detailed information on upcoming classes.

The hammer only becomes a tool through possibility and vision

In sitting down to research the history of Colfax Avenue I found this statement, embedded in an article written by Denver Post staff writer Robert Sanchez in 2006. It speaks specifically to Lakewood, CO and to the portion of Colfax known as the West Corridor.

“The avenue was rutted dirt and mud when Eastern European immigrants set up shop atop a hill west of Denver and built Colorado’s pre-eminent tubercular sanitarium amid apple orchards and pig farms.

More than 100 years later, West Colfax Avenue is a street in transition. Vacant buildings mix with old-time motels, massive developments and big-box retailers, creating an eclectic mix of past and present.”

Robert wrote his story in 2006 and eight years later, Colfax Avenue continues to regain its footing through new developments and businesses, and a focus on arts, culture, and community.

But I don’t want to go through the entire history of Colfax here. The folks at ColfaxAvenue.com have already done a wonderful job of that and I encourage you to check out their site for more information. Instead I want to share a personal experience with you, the story of the little house on Otis Street, a house only two blocks from West Colfax Avenue.

And because storytelling is a form of art, this is my contribution to the Vintage Colfax – Yesterday and Today show, currently at 40W Arts Gallery now through April 5th. The show captures the history and character of Colfax Avenue through multiple mediums and is a wonderful way to experience Colfax through the eyes and minds of the artists on display.

The Hammer Only Becomes a Tool Through Possibility and Vision

I felt a sense of excitement as the car moved lazily through traffic along Colfax Avenue. In my years of living in Lakewood this street held a familiarity for me, but now my boyfriend intended to purchase in the area as well. We passed Sheridan and then Pierce Street and eventually pulled to a stop. Steven turned toward me beaming, and pointed to the property.

The little house on Otis Street was ugly, both inside and out. It was a spring day, warm and blue and open, and the sunlight captured the front facade in that same way that harsh florescent lighting captures a woman in her fifties, each particle of light only serving to highlight the wrinkles. Primarily I noticed the multi-colored paneling, tones of green, yellow, and off-white that blended together harshly. The inside of the house was worse, much worse. I opened the door and was accosted by the smell of cat urine, pungent and lingering. “It smells like cat piss in here,” I frustratingly noted. “You’re planning on buying this house?”

I couldn’t really say much else. This man standing next to me had only been mine for about ten months. I loved him and wanted more but each time I broached the idea he tabled the discussion, or emotionally backed away to the point where I wasn’t comfortable pursuing the topic further. At this point in our relationship I was feeling a little lost. Should I move forward with this man or accept that he wasn’t ready to commit and cut my losses altogether?

As I walked slowly though the rest of the rooms I tried to imagine myself here. Yes the hardwood floors were blackened with dirt and soot, uneven and in bad need of a refinish. Yes the kitchen looked reminiscent of a seventies explosion, complete with fake wood paneling and retro laminate countertops.

I opened the last bedroom door to find not one but three semi-feral cats roaming the room. Apparently the previous owners abandoned them here.

I came close to screaming, as I demanded that Steven’s realtor call the former homeowners immediately. Steven hadn’t signed the closing documents yet and I’d be damned if I would allow him buy this house otherwise. In muted but firm tones I heard her state that the cats would need to be picked up today, preferably within the next hour.

Needless to say an argument ensued later that evening. “How can you buy this house?” I implored. “It needs too much work and honestly I don’t think that smell will ever really go away.”

“I’ve always wanted to remodel a house though. You know that’s a dream of mine. Work on this with me, we can do it together.”

“And then what Steven, what happens then? I work on this house with you and you move in and we’re still in the exact same place as before. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t be your girlfriend without getting anything in return. I love you but I’m just tired of being the person in the relationship who loves more.”

Steven softened immediately and walked toward me to give me a hug. “I’m just not ready yet. I’m sorry but I cannot make that commitment without a little more time.”

The last statement sprung me into action again and reawakened my initial anger. We fought for a little longer and then he left, not for good, but for the entire evening and I felt an intense and deep pain within my chest as if my lungs were collapsing and could not pull in enough air. It was one of the loneliest nights of my life but as I sat on the floor crying I thought not about our relationship, but about the house instead. It had a lot of problems but Steven was right, it was ripe with potential as well.

The neighborhood was changing, growing in ways that thrilled us both. I’d lived in the area for years and always enjoyed the gritty, but endearing flavors that made Lakewood home. Recently though I’d noticed something new. Businesses popped up monthly and people biked or walked along streets that once appeared abandoned.

If I was willing to look deeply would I notice other areas of my life that showed glimmers of transition as well? The little house on Otis Street needed time, it needed attention, and it needed someone who was willing to see the possibilities but to understand that you can’t always predict the ending.

And so we moved ahead. The house consumed us. We worked on it during most of our off-hours, sometimes together and sometimes alone. We painted and scrubbed and hammered away through one month, and then two.

I learned to tile my first bathroom in the little Otis House and began to feel confidently that I could take on more complex housing projects. Steven refinished his very first kitchen and the final product was beautiful, with modern cabinets the color of straw and espresso dark wood flooring that we stained together, both kneeling side by side to scrape down the edges that could not be finished with an electric sander.

When Steven asked me to marry him in the fall of 2010 I said yes. He eventually moved in with me, and the friends who introduced us rented, and moved into the little Otis Street house. Their first child was born shortly thereafter and we stood on the doorstep one cold December evening, knocking on the painted blue door, a color that I had chosen and that Steven loved, firmly and with intention.

It flung open suddenly, my closest friend Katja exhausted but beaming, with a newborn baby enveloped tightly in her arms. “Look Mia”, she said to the tiny sleeping face, “Your godparents are here.”

Why your voice matters

It’s snowing and additionally, a recent snowboarding injury has reduced me to crutches and a large brace clipped tightly to my left leg. I can’t think of two better excuses to curl up with The Sun magazine and my two dogs in bed.

I always flip to the back page first, where a list of quotes with the same general theme run the length of the page in two neat rows. The final quote catches my eye. “You throw an anchor into the future you want to build, and you pull yourself along by the chain”, John O’Neal.

I consider this quote, and its implications. Does each action that we take make a tiny ripple in the pond of our future? Are we responsible for the world that we wish to build, for the space and society that we wish to see? I’d like to think so.

Small actions have big consequences. Each step we take toward the person we wish to become is both measurable, and important. By that same token our actions have an effect on the world around us as well. Change is inevitable. Will we take an active role in our world or remain passive to the alterations around us?

For me, Artspace represents an opportunity to create the type of community that I wish to live in. It represents creativity, art in all forms, and a neighborhood that shares inspiration and ideas. Artspace speaks to diversity of both people and economics, and the sense that a person shouldn’t need to be rich, to live in an area that is abundant in resources and beauty.

The West Colfax corridor is changing. Will you take a role in the change you wish to see?

If you aren’t familiar with Artspace please take a moment to watch this informative video, and to read my previous blog post titled “Artspace bid is a game changer for 40W Arts and West Colfax corridor”.

And then, take the survey.

Throw an anchor into the future you want to build.
Quote, The Sun magazine

Artspace Bid is a game changer for 40W Arts and West Colfax Corridor

If you’ve heard the recent buzz about Artspace you know that people are excited about it, very excited for that matter. 40W Arts District chair Bill Marino calls it “one of the biggest things that could happen to this community. All you have to do is look at the impact Artspace has had in other communities across the country. Artspace projects are incredibly catalytic – this would be a game-changer for 40 West Arts and the West Colfax Corridor.” But you might be asking yourself, what is Artspace and why does it matter to me? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. But before I delve into this world of art and artistic communities I’ve got three words for you. TAKE THE SURVEY. This will all become clearer as you read below. Don’t forget it though, take the survey.

Artspace BuildingIn a sentence, Artspace is a non-profit organization that comes into communities and builds something new, or remodels something old, that serves as both affordable housing and studio space for artists of any type. Additionally their larger properties include capacity for artistic businesses, meaning that art galleries, graphic design firms, and even coffee shops could lease space in the same location. Okay, technically that was two sentences.

Why does it matter to you? I’ll let Wendy Holmes, Artspace Senior Vice President of Consulting and Strategic Partnerships help fill in the blanks. I spoke to her via phone from the Artspace headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

My first question to Wendy was, why do the arts even matter? How do they help, as your company tagline states, to “build better communities”? Wendy energetically responded:

“It’s really about the power of both the individual artist and the collective. [Artists] make places special and part of the reason they do that is because they care deeply about their communities, they are willing to give back, and they see the world in a different way that is necessary to our lives.”

Wendy spoke about the concept of creative placemaking, an idea with deep roots in the foundation of Artspace. Creative placemaking is the notion that “when animated by artists, generic space takes on the quality of ‘place’, and in doing so accumulates value – ranging from the engendering of community pride to the attraction of new businesses.”

I implored Wendy to elaborate more regarding the impact Artspace buildings have on both the individual artist and the surrounding community.

She told me that in terms of the impact on individual artists, when Artspace builds in an area, artists make more income from their art just as a result of living in these places. They don’t necessarily make more money as a composite, but they are able to hold fewer jobs and to focus on art as their primary source of income. Additionally artists “collaborate more, they begin to be branded, people see [the Artspace location] as a place to buy and interact with quality art.”

But what about the impact on the surrounding community?

Wendy described it beautifully.

Wendy Holmes, Artspace Senior Vice President of Consulting and Strategic Partnerships

Wendy Holmes, Artspace Senior Vice President of Consulting and Strategic Partnerships

“On the municipal side, we’re often bringing underutilized or vacant properties back to the tax rolls. Area property values increase.” And perhaps the most tangible benefit to the community – “developers just nip at our heels. Having the presence of artists is one of the single biggest predictors that the community is about to change.”

I utilized a brief pause in our conversation to bring up one of my concerns. When I reviewed the Artspace website I was thrilled to discover how beautiful and unique these buildings were, but I did notice that many of them were located in unquestionably urban areas. Lakewood, Colorado reads as suburban to most people and I wondered if that would affect our feasibility as a location.

Wendy assured me that Lakewood is a viable candidate for Artspace. She noted that with its proximity to downtown Denver and the advent of light rail, Lakewood actually translates as more urban that one might think. Additionally Artspace is no stranger to suburban communities, including a project in Maryland just a few miles outside of Washington D.C.

Enthusiastically I asked Wendy what our next steps are.

Wendy unraveled the process for me. She noted that Artspace comes to a locality because they are invited. This means that community input plays an essential role. “The next phase – the market study – is critical,” she explained to me in no uncertain terms.

Do you remember my words for you at the beginning of this post? TAKE THE SURVEY. You can call it a market study if you’d like but either way, this survey determines the answers to key questions that Artspace needs before it agrees to move forward toward selecting a building site. The survey will answer questions like:

Is there enough interest?

What types of artists and artistic supporters live in this community?

Who supports the City of Lakewood in their bid to attract Artspace?

How many of them are there?

Help us, to help Artspace, to help us, build a home here. We have the bones, we have the creative talent, we have the community. Take the survey and encourage your fellow creatives (writers, editors, graphic designers, photographers, culinary artists, cake decorators, architects, printmakers, musicians, etc.) to do the same! Show Artspace how much we care.

Link below to all of the important stuff, including our survey kickoff party at Lamar Station Crossing on February 28 from 5-7pm.

Click here to find all of the info about our kickoff party and survey.

Did I mention that Artspace is working with the City of Loveland, Colorado? Their groundbreaking ceremony is today! Click here to learn more.

Click here to watch a short video about Artspace.