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ArtPlace America

Biennial of the Americas

Update #3 for ArtPlace America

Sculpture Games team “Newton’s Minions” working on their piece at the Feed & Grain. Photo by Garrett Ammon.
Sculpture Games team “Newton’s Minions” working on their piece at the Feed & Grain. Photo by Garrett Ammon.

The 2nd Annual Sculpture Games at The Loveland Feed & Grain - On July 13, Dawn Fay (my wife and Wonderbound Producing Director) and I headed north to visit our fellow ArtPlace America grantees at The Loveland Feed & Grain. They were knee deep in their 2nd Annual Sculpture Games where ten teams of artists were constructing sculptures from scrap metal, wood, and all kinds of discarded objects during a timed competition. The skill and speed at which the artists worked with power tools and ungainly materials was impressive to see. (Dancers tend to steer clear of objects that can do bodily harm.)

The Loveland Feed & Grain. Photo by Garrett Ammon.
The Loveland Feed & Grain. Photo by Garrett Ammon.

Impressive also was the Feed & Grain itself. We tend to think of our 10,000 square foot rehearsal space at Junction Box as large, but the Feed & Grain is of a whole other scale. The Feed & Grain team kindly took some time away from the competition to give us a private tour of this mind-blowing structure and all of its inner-workings as well as the In The Meantime Gallery and Artworks Loveland.

Here is a story about the Feed & Grain’s event by Jessica Mahler: Reporter-Herald -- Artists find treasures at The Sculpture Games.

Wonderbound Company Artists prepare to perform for the Biennial of the Americas VIP reception at Junction Box. Photo by Evan Semón.
Wonderbound Company Artists prepare to perform for the Biennial of the Americas VIP reception at Junction Box. Photo by Evan Semón.

Biennial of the Americas - From July 16-20, Denver hosted the second Biennial of the Americas, an international festival of ideas, art and culture. With the theme “Unleashing Human Potential: Reinventing Communities, Business, and Education,” the Biennial brought together leaders from throughout the Americas for symposia and peer-to-peer workshops, presented public art exhibitions and architectural installations, and put on four public festivals around the city.

Wonderbound performs Artistic Director Garrett Ammon’s “Serenade for Strings” during the Biennial of the Americas VIP reception at Junction Box. Photo by Josh Barrett.
Wonderbound performs Artistic Director Garrett Ammon’s “Serenade for Strings” during the Biennial of the Americas VIP reception at Junction Box. Photo by Josh Barrett.

On July 17, Wonderbound, Community Coordinating District No. 1 (CCD No. 1) and Urban Market Partners had the pleasure of hosting one of the Biennial’s VIP dinner receptions at Junction Box. Guests from across the Americas made their way to Junction Box, after wrapping a public symposium titled “Reinventing Communities and How We Live” moderated by Arianna Huffington. Guests feasted on a spread of gourmet food by Footer’s and beverages from longtime friends Sip Fine Wine & Spirits.

“In the Rafters” by textile artist Theresa Clowes. Photo by Evan Semón.
“In the Rafters” by textile artist Theresa Clowes. Photo by Evan Semón.

Textile artist and Wonderbound collaborator Theresa Clowes was commissioned by the Biennial to create “In the Rafters” for the event. Theresa’s installation reflects the geographic characteristics of Junction Box by using its urban draft of five intersections as well as Wonderbound’s color palate on sheer fabric that floats across the metal rafters of Wonderbound’s rehearsal space. To close out the reception, Wonderbound’s company artists presented “Serenade for Strings.”

Singer/Songwriter and Wonderbound collaborator Ian Cooke performs at “Imagined Realities” at Sustainability Park. Photo by Evan Semón.
Singer/Songwriter and Wonderbound collaborator Ian Cooke performs at “Imagined Realities” at Sustainability Park. Photo by Evan Semón.

From Junction Box, guests headed down the street for a free block party at Sustainability Park (SPark) where RedLine, Mile High Connects, and the Consulate General of Canada presented “Imagined Realities” which explored the intertwined concepts of energy and sustainability through food, fun, and music.

Here is a wrap up of the week’s activities by Ray Mark Rinaldi: Denver Post -- The Denver Biennial of the Americas: The highs and lows of a city-wide smash.

Wonderbound Company Artists Marian Faustino and Damien Patterson in Garrett Ammon’s “From Darkness to Light,” a part of Perpetual Beauty with The Colorado Symphony. Photo by [Amanda Tipton](http://www.kokorophotography.com).
Wonderbound Company Artists Marian Faustino and Damien Patterson in Garrett Ammon’s “From Darkness to Light,” a part of Perpetual Beauty with The Colorado Symphony. Photo by Amanda Tipton.

Perpetual Beauty at the Arvada Center - For five consecutive years Wonderbound has been honored to be a headliner at CenterFest, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities’ outdoor summer series. This year Wonderbound presented an encore performance of Perpetual Beauty with The Colorado Symphony on July 19. It was a pleasure to reprise this special program featuring music by Tchaikovsky and Colorado’s own Ofer Ben-Amots at one of the states’ most beautiful outdoor venues.

Here is a story about the performance by Erica Prather: 303 Magazine -- Wonderbound: An Encore Performance of Perpetual Beauty.

Wonderbound’s blue drape newly installed at Junction Box. Photo by Amber Blais.
Wonderbound’s blue drape newly installed at Junction Box. Photo by Amber Blais.

A Big Blue Drape - While the dancers were away for the day at the Arvada Center, Junction Box received a special upgrade - a dramatic blue drape that covers the far end of Wonderbound’s rehearsal space. This new amenity gives a more finished look to our home by separating our dressing rooms, storage area and costume shop from the rehearsal space without disrupting the space’s original architecture.

Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs - Wonderbound and CCD No. 1 were proud to host The Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs at Junction Box for their monthly meeting on July 23. The commission acts as an advisory board to Denver Arts & Venues' cultural programs department and is comprised of accomplished Denver leaders in the areas of the arts, business and education. All commissioners are appointed by the Mayor and are strong advocates of arts and culture. A handful of Wonderbound artists helped kick off the meeting with a brief performance before the commissioners got down to the business of the day.

Colorado Conservatory of Dance Summer Intensive Showcase - Our sister organization, Colorado Conservatory of Dance, closed out its summer with a performance by their incredibly talented advanced students on July 27. The evening featured new ballets by Wonderbound Producing Director Dawn Fay and Company Artist Sarah Tallman.

Wonderbound’s Dawn Fay working with a group of young ladies from Girls Inc. Denver at Junction Box. Photo by Amber Blais.
Wonderbound’s Dawn Fay working with a group of young ladies from Girls Inc. Denver at Junction Box. Photo by Amber Blais.

Girls Inc. Movement Workshops - On July 30 and August 1, two groups of young ladies from Girls Inc. Denver came to spend the morning with Wonderbound to get a small taste of what it’s like to do contemporary dance.

Girls Inc. delivers life-changing programs that inspire girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Research-based curricula, delivered by trained professionals, equip girls to achieve academically; lead healthy and physically active lives; manage money; navigate media messages; and discover an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Company Artists Colby Foss and Marian Faustino in a promotional image for “Love,” a part of Wonderbound’s 2013-2014 season. Photo by Kristen Hatgi, Garrett Ammon and Wonderbound.
Company Artists Colby Foss and Marian Faustino in a promotional image for “Love,” a part of Wonderbound’s 2013-2014 season. Photo by Kristen Hatgi, Garrett Ammon and Wonderbound.

Experience the Wonder - Single tickets for our inaugural season as Wonderbound went on sale on August 1. With live music by Jesse Manley, Confluence String Quartet and Ian Cooke as well as illusions by Professor Phelyx and poetry by Lighthouse Writers Workshop's Michael J. Henry, it promises to be a season of adventure.

Here is a write-up about the season by John Wenzel: Denver Post -- Wonderbound looking for magic, music in first full season under new name.

Soloman Howard as Joe with members of the chorus in Central City Opera’s production of “Show Boat” at the Buell Theatre in Downtown Denver. Photo by Mark Kiryluk.
Soloman Howard as Joe with members of the chorus in Central City Opera’s production of “Show Boat” at the Buell Theatre in Downtown Denver. Photo by Mark Kiryluk.

Central City Opera’s Showboat - Our friends and collaborators at Central City Opera have been up to some daring organizational changes these past couple of years. This summer, for the first time in their 80 year history, they built one of their summer festival productions, not for the historic namesake 550 seat Central City Opera House, but for the 2,882 seat Buell Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. It was a gamble that paid off; Denver turned out in droves to see the famous opera company in “Show Boat” and the rave reviews rolled in. Many of us from Wonderbound were in the house on August 6 for opening night; we can affirm that it is not the building that makes the organization, it is the people.

Here is a review of the show by Ray Mark Rinaldi: Denver Post -- "Show Boat" review: Central City Opera buoys with classical voices.

Four Wonderbound Hare’s pose for a photo-op in front of Momoyo Torimitsu’s “Somehow I Don't Feel Comfortable” at the Dikeou Collection. Photo by Garrett Ammon.
Four Wonderbound Hare’s pose for a photo-op in front of Momoyo Torimitsu’s “Somehow I Don't Feel Comfortable” at the Dikeou Collection. Photo by Garrett Ammon.

To help Central City Opera celebrate, four Wonderbound Hares (Company Artists) made an appearance at the “Riverboat Royale” at the Dikeou Collection on August 10. Dancing in front of Momoyo Torimitsu’s “Somehow I Don't Feel Comfortable” made it all the more fun.

Producing Director Dawn Fay (seated) and Artistic Director Garrett Ammon get down to work with the Wonderbound company on the first day of the 2013-2014 season. Photo by Amber Blais.
Producing Director Dawn Fay (seated) and Artistic Director Garrett Ammon get down to work with the Wonderbound company on the first day of the 2013-2014 season. Photo by Amber Blais.

A New Season Begins - The summer flew by and the next thing we knew it was August 13, day one of the 2013-2014 season. We are delighted to welcome Company Artist Danny Ryan and Technical Director David Korab to the Wonderbound family in addition to bringing Costume Designer Rachel Kras on full-time.

We jumped right into creating a new work to original music by Denver band Hal Aqua and the Lost Tribe, which will have its premiere at Colorado College in September.

Recent Wins

Wonderbound and other ArtPlace America grantees were featured in stories by Sheena Lyonnais in multiple Issue Media Group publications: 83 Degrees -- Creative Placemaking Changes Narrative About Cities.

Junction Box’s neighborhood will get some added attention from its local business development organization: Denver Post -- Arapahoe Square an area of focus for Downtown Denver Partnership.

Portable evaporative cooler at Junction Box. Photo by Garrett Ammon.
Portable evaporative cooler at Junction Box. Photo by Garrett Ammon.

Challenges

It’s hot in here. Before Wonderbound moved to Junction Box, there were legitimate concerns about putting a dance company in a 10,000 square foot room that was built in the 1920’s. The biggest one was whether we could keep it warm enough in the winter. (Dancers need warmth to keep their muscles supple.) After having more than a few snowy days following our move in March, we feel confident that the space’s three gas heaters do a sufficient job.

What we didn’t anticipate was just how warm the space would get in the summer. The space’s original design features thoughtful engineering that was meant to disperse heat in an age before central air existed. Unfortunately, many of those elements of the building have been compromised over the course of its life: windows have been sealed to protect against break-ins and vents were boarded up rather than replaced when they succumbed to age.

We are working on solutions with some great people who know about such things, and we anticipate we will get all the kinks worked out by next summer. In the meantime we bought ourselves some big portable evaporative coolers that, at minimum, keep the dance space at a tolerable temperature on those warmer days.

Wonderbound Company Artist Brandon Freeman performing at Junction Box. Photo by Amanda Tipton.
Wonderbound Company Artist Brandon Freeman performing at Junction Box. Photo by Amanda Tipton.

Insight/Provocation

If you are a working artist, you likely know (or have known) what it is to spend the evening out at a gala, art opening, nice restaurant, or performance -- where you socialized with business leaders, officials and philanthropists -- only to return home to an empty refrigerator that would remain that way for another week because the rent had to be paid. And, you also likely know what it is to have a conversation with someone who perceives the arts to be a luxury, highbrow, and only for the privileged-class -- even though that same someone knows that you, an artist, are anything but a member of the privileged-class.

As artists, we exist in a unique space in our culture, continually living with one foot planted firmly in a humble and meager existence, while the other is placed in a world of privilege and prosperity. We have the opportunity, and perhaps even the responsibility, to act as connectors and educators in a world that is so often thrown askew from misperception and distrust. If we fully embrace this role, perhaps we have a much greater chance of actualizing a compassionate society that values its diversity and complexity, rather than fearing people who don’t live like us.

This is my 3rd article and is 2290 words long.

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