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Wheeler celebrates Aspen locals with art show and Technicolor Tone Factory

Sheila Babbie's "Magical Musical Journey" is among her digital photo collage work included in city employees' art show at the Wheeler.
Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

What: Locals Party with Technicolor Tone Factory

When: Saturday, Feb. 7, 9 p.m.

Where: Wheeler Opera House

Cost: $19.50

Tickets: http://www.aspenshowtix.com; Wheeler box office

The phrase “government worker,” for most of us, doesn’t conjure images of creative experimentation and artistic practice.

But seven city of Aspen staffers are doing their part to change the image of municipal paper-pushers and bureaucrats. And the proof is on the walls of the Wheeler Opera House.

The city-owned Wheeler is showcasing artwork by town employees this weekend as it hosts a “locals party” with the Boulder-based Technicolor Tone Factory on Saturday night.



Among the exhibiting artists is Ada Christensen. By day, she’s the outreach coordinator for the city’s greenhouse-gas reduction program, the Canary Initiative. But in her art practice, Christensen — who studied studio art at the University of Denver and has had work included in the Roaring Fork Open — works with acrylic stains and lacquers to make paintings she describes as “landscape-y.” The abstracted landscapes included in the Wheeler show are her “Colorado Fire Skies,” which portray, on large mahogany and birch panels, the brilliant sunsets that result from active wildfire seasons here.

“I wanted to celebrate the diverse talents of city employees. We work for the city in our professional capacity, but we are also photographers, painters and artists.”Genna Moe Audience services manager at the Wheeler, who also has pieces in the show


There is a community of artists within the city’s rank and file, Christensen said.



“We have knowledge of each other and we touch base and talk about art,” she said. “Some of us pursue it more heavily than others, but we do get together and hang out.”

Among her artistic city cohort is Sheila Babbie, who, like Christensen, has exhibited at the Aspen Chapel Gallery and was part of a Red Brick Center for the Arts city employee show several years ago. Babbie is the city Finance Department’s grant coordinator. In her artistic practice, Babbie works in digital photo collage to create surreal, eye-catching pop culture pastiches.

Her works, in the Wheeler show include “Cereal Killers,” which portrays Tony the Tiger, Cap’n Crunch and Tucan Sam tying Pee-wee Herman to a train track as he holds a Mr. T cereal box. Also, her “Magical Musical Journey” gives us a sandaled John Denver riding a bike through the mountains with Kermit the Frog sitting behind him and playing a banjo.

“I wanted to celebrate the diverse talents of city employees,” said Genna Moe, audience services manager at the Wheeler, who spearheaded the Locals Party and also has pieces in the show. “We work for the city in our professional capacity, but we are also photographers, painters and artists.”

Also exhibiting in the show is city Director of Human Resources Alissa Farrell, Utilities Director David Hornbacher along with Wheeler staffers Nicole Levesque and Weston Scott.

The art opening in the lobby bar area will precede the Technicolor Tone Factory show inside the Wheeler theater. The opera house is breaking out its dance floor for the show, removing the first five or so rows of seats and encouraging people to dance, mingle and move between the theater and the bar during the band’s set. The loose set-up and later start time (9 p.m.) are an effort to circumvent the Wheeler’s often staid — sometimes stifling — sit-down concert experience.

“We want the Wheeler to be fun and a place for everyone in the community — not just for sit-down shows,” Moe said.

Based on Technicolor Tone Factory’s reputation, there won’t be many people siting through their set.

The band has become a hot ticket among Boulder’s college crowd and on the Front Range live music scene over the past four years, playing unpredictable shows that include their original tunes and covers ranging from Michael Jackson to Rodgers and Hammerstein. The five-piece plays a dance-friendly mix of progressive rock, jam, funk and folk. Over the pst month, Technicolor Tone Factory has made in-roads into mountain towns including Crested Butte, Vail and Steamboat Springs. Saturday marks the band’s Aspen debut.

atravers@aspentimes.com


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