Paint Hay While The Sun Shines!

Sky Awe, Nan Lund

Sky Awe, Nan Lund

Spring and sunshine have been the artist’s muse for as long as art has existed. From Monet’s water lilies to Van Gogh’s sunflowers, the outdoors enlivens and inspires. At 40 West Arts District we’re making the most of this beautiful change in weather with lots to do, both artistically and otherwise. Join us for one or (fingers-crossed) all of the events below. Take advantage of spring and paint hay while the sun shines!

Saturday May 30th from 1-4PM
Mountair Park Community Farm, 13th and Depew

Bring the whole family for an afternoon of free fun at your community farm! Help paint the new mural, sample fresh foods, enjoy live music, tour the farm and more. Free kids’ activities include craft projects, seed planting, English and Spanish storytime, and face painting. The Solar Roast Coffee Truck will offer refreshments for purchase.

Wednesdays All Summer from 4-7PM
Lamar Station Plaza, West Colfax Avenue between Lamar and Pierce

Check out local vendors like Everitt Farms, Miller Farms, and Colorado Fresh at this emerging farmer’s market. Broad Street Realty LLC, the development group that owns Lamar Station Plaza (where Casa Bonita makes it’s home), will start small but has a vision that includes live music and other entertainment, and local produce, jams, baked foods, and goods that stretch throughout the complex, both indoors and out. Come support the revitalization of the West Colfax corridor by attending all summer long.

Friday June 5th from 5-7PM
Exhibition through July 11
40 West Gallery, 1560 Teller Street

Join 40 West Arts for our latest exhibit Wonders of Nature, an arts exhibition celebrating the colors and textures of the natural world – from landscapes and wildlife to galactic grandeur and microscopic mysteries.

This show is part of Lakewood’s annual INSPIRE! Arts Week, a weeklong celebration of the arts in all categories, with a number of venues around town featuring discounted and free events.

Why Placemaking?

There are a lot of definitions of placemaking floating the Internet right now, but I think this one is my favorite.

From The Art of Placemaking, “You know that line from The Field of Dreams that says, “If you build it, they will come?” It’s the same with public spaces. If you make a space for people to stop their busy life and just spend time enjoying each other and the space, they will take advantage of it.”

Placemaking is a big thing these days in design and city planning but why? Why does it matter and why spend time and money on it? Kristin Cypher from C+B Design spoke to a public crowd on March 25th about just that.

40 West Arts shines at night.

40 West Arts shines at night.

Kristin, who is working with 40 West Arts District on placemaking components, highlighted the importance of creating a place that feels tangible, that is “obvious to people coming into 40 West so they can understand that it’s a place to stop, not just a place to pass through. Currently, it’s not always apparent that the creative district is here.”

The idea of placemaking does just that, creating signs, markers, and way-finding components that promote the idea of place, and show people both where they are right now, and other physical spaces nearby that they might walk, bike, or drive to. Kristin commented that placemaking “does the important thing of actually revealing destinations and assets and allowing people to know that you’ve got them. It also encourages exploration, so that people feel reassured that they can take this path, that they will come to something that feels important to them, a park, a restroom. We want to make that exploration part of the experience of 40 West.”

“This is especially important in places like Lamar Station,” Kristin articulated. “You have a light rail stop, you have a lot of people coming off of that stop, that are maybe going directly to their home or directly to a place that they know. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they understood at that point that they were entering into an arts district, here’s a map that shows you where to go, the routes, the destinations, and it evokes a sense of place that the district has.”

Kristin spoke about signage design specifically (see attached PDF presentation for visuals), telling the crowd that the use of circles was intentional, because circles “imply movement, creativity, wholeness.” She also touched on some of the signage details including written times for both walking and biking, map kiosks where viewers will see a large version of the district map and also an area for announcements, and finally gateways, which are signs stationed over major roadways like Colfax Avenue and serve to showcase that you’re in the district, and also represent the character and style of the district itself.

Kristin summed placemaking up in just a few words. “We’re building on character and identity, finding and revealing. A lot of what we’re doing is actually just unveiling. Unveiling for people who come into the district, where it is, and how to get there.”

For more information on 40 West Arts District placemaking initiatives, the full presentation including graphics is attached here – 40W Placemaking Presentation.

Also please join us for a 40 West Placemaking Tactical Urbanism workshop, to be held on Tuesday April 14th from 3-5pm at Lamar Station Crossing, 6150 W. 13th Avenue. We’ll be brainstorming about quick-win, low-cost projects to implement in 40 West.

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
Hours: By appointment only. Please email to schedule. Information on her website.

Yard Art Yard

Who is going to see it, God?

That’s the question posed to William Jude Rumley by his nine-year-old daughter in response to Rumley’s plans to build an art installation in the yard of his home. The home is Tudor style, beautiful and historic with a steeply pitched roof and deep red brick throughout. The yard is expansive with overflowing plants and bushes that flower in the summer months and feel almost wild, reminiscent of a spring hike in the mountains or a French countryside. Standing in opposition to this sense of unbridled nature is a large spot of buffalo grass, spacious and manicured to an even finish. It is here where Yard Art Yard was formed.

View of Light Rail

View of Light Rail

“I had not been making art for a while and I needed to do something with my yard” William states. “I was looking at this yard and thinking, I should make something out of this.” William comes from a background of Irish farmers and his original idea was to tie art installation and food production into one.

“The first piece I came up with was Sky Garden”, he says. “I was thinking of this whole idea of second use, the idea of using water twice”. Sky Garden is a series of painted flower boxes that sit atop high wire trellises. William explains that the flowers at the top are watered and water then flows down to the trellises beneath.

The coming of the new W Line light rail sparked William’s creativity even further. He realized that “there is the most amazing kinetic sculpture going right by my house” and felt that he could leverage the backdrop of the light rail train as a conduit for art. The increased foot traffic past his house to Lamar light rail station didn’t hurt either. William expanded the idea of art installation on his lawn. He collaborated with other artists and used his gift as a photographer to translate the installation process to video.

William describes this period in his own words. I was “looking at different ways to exhibit art and celebrating the urbanization of this area. I did not want to function as an artist or curator. The idea was that I would find these artists under natural circumstances and bring them in. My only job is to help facilitate the art. It’s trying to get out of the idea of the white box gallery space.”

William clarifies that he respects and appreciates the traditional art setting, the “white box” as he calls it, but also loves that his yard is organic, unruly, and simple. His collaboration process with an individual artist follows the same pattern. No money is exchanged, he doesn’t seek out artists but rather allows the process to unfold naturally, and there’s no specific length of time that a piece remains on exhibit.

The interchange between the artist and the viewer strikes a similar note. Yard Art Yard is a play on words. The first two words, Yard Art, encompass the idea that every yard is a work of art. Whether it’s Christmas lights or pink plastic flamingos each homeowner grapples with the artistic process that makes their yard unique. The last two words, Art Yard, describe the gallery space itself, an outdoor venue where artists showcase their work against a backdrop of grass, sky, and light rail lines. It’s not too far fetched to think that if there is a God, he might be watching too.

Yard Art Yard is on display at the Northeast corner of 13th Avenue and Otis Street, between the Wadsworth and Lamar Light Rail Stations.

Currently on display is “The Manifold People” by artist Donald Gary Fodness.

Please remember to check the outdoor display kiosk to link to William’s video interview with each artist.

Videos for past and current projects are listed below.