Downtown art more than window dressing in Basalt
Downtown Basalt is gaining vitality this fall even if some storefronts remain vacant.
Basalt Chamber of Commerce Director Robin Waters and Toklat Gallery owner Lynne Mace launched the Creative Spaces program to showcase the work of local artists in vacant commercial spaces.
“It gives life here,” Mace said. “It’s revitalization through art.”
The work of three artists will be on display at a vacant site in the Riverwalk building on the east end of Midland Avenue. There are paintings by Dave Durrance, furniture by Dave Struempler and reproductions of Plains Indians weaponry by Rick Stevens. An opening reception with the artists will be held Friday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The space is at 227 Midland Ave., Unit 14A, across from St. Vincent Catholic Church.
Waters, who took the reins of the chamber in August, said the program “puts us on a positive track.” Instead of empty spaces, she and Mace see possibilities, she said. Plus, “it’s excellent art,” she said.
Waters said a handful of owners of empty spaces have been contemplating allowing displays at their property. She believes the program will take off now that one property has been enlisted and other owners can see what it’s about. The first owner to consent was a partnership headed by her brother, Mike Waters, which includes Robin.
The paintings, furniture and weaponry are arranged in the interior of the space. After the opening, the store space will remain locked, but observers who want a closer look at the art can make arrangements by calling Mace at Toklat.
“The main purpose is to provide beauty and vitality up there, not to sell art,” Mace said.
It will remain clear that the stores used for Creative Spaces are available for lease, Waters said. The real estate signs won’t be pushed out of the way.
Mace said that by Friday’s opening, there will be two additional storefronts at Riverwalk displaying the work of local artists. The paintings of Michael Raam, of Basalt, will be displayed at the former Val’s Gourmet space, and the stained glass of Shannon Muse, of Carbondale, will be displayed where Fresh was located. Their work will be in the windows of the spaces.
Waters said she wants to expand the program to Willits Town Center. There’s no shortage of vacant commercial space right now. Ironically, Creative Spaces is an effort that, under the best circumstances, the participants would like to see go away.
“It’s a program that we’d like to see obsolete in the near future,” Waters said.
Artists interested in the program can call Mace at 970-927-1437. Owners of empty commercial space can call Waters at 970-927-4031.
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