Q + A

the voice(s) of addrienne amato + kelly cope russack

November has been an exciting month for the Boulder Creative Collective (BCC), a Boulder-based nonprofit liberating the idea of “the starving artist.” How? Through creative support like pop-up galleries, The BCC Warehouse space and offering community workshops and classes. In short, the efforts are collaborative. Like BCC’s recent collab with Wagner Skis, where four different artists curated designs for their skis this 2019-2020 season. (Don’t miss the launch party BCC is hosting on November 21.) This month, BCC also launched its Kickstarter campaign for a new Artist in Residence Pilot Program. With this pilot program, artists will fulfill their project proposals at the end of the 12-month residency and exhibit their work. Like current resident, photographer/tattoo artist Chloé Besson (@c.jane.b / @chloejanetattoos), who captured Addrienne and Kelly’s portraits in their alternative art space where the unexpected is always invited.

Describe the moment in 2013 you both decided to launch Boulder Creative Collective (BCC)? 

The moment was hiking Mt. Sanitas and saying, let’s do this!

In your bio, you mention an artist and art lover. Who’s who?

Addrienne is a trained painter who exhibited her work in Kelly, the art lover’s home for the first BCC “pop up” six years ago.

How can an artist get involved? And an art lover?

Everyone is welcome! To get involved, attend our events. If you can, volunteer and see behind the scenes. Our mission has always been to support artists being artists. We have met countless artists missing community and networking and creative space because they’re unable to pay another bill for an art studio. To provide a solution for this issue, we recently decided to restructure The BCC Warehouse from artist studio rentals to an Artist in Residence program. Selected artists will be awarded a free space to create for 12 months. We have made the switch to raise the funds we need to provide creative working space for artists. We are a dedicated duo that believes in what we do, so we launched a Kickstarter on November 1 to share our story and to raise funds to support artists.

So another way to get involved is to donate financially to offset the costs of providing space to talented and deserving artists.

Contribute to the Kickstarter here: The BCC Residency PILOT Program.

You also provide a warehouse studio space for artists looking for a creative space; how do you make sure this space sparks creativity? 

First and foremost, it’s incredibly important for artists to use the space regularly to keep the energy buzzing. Because artists often work alone, there is often a void of shared creative energy. The warehouse space provides a backdrop for creativity by fostering a sense of community that inspires expression. The warehouse also contains a gallery and exhibition space. By exhibiting work that is experimental and unexpected, it builds curiosity and people want to return.

BCC’s ethos is to create, connect, exchange, collect — what’s a real-life illustration of these principles coming to life?

Our vision has been clear from the start … support the artists who are creating and let them do what they do best — making art. In addition to giving the artists the space (mentally, physically, emotionally) to create, The BCC steps in to find ways for their artwork to be seen by exhibiting and sharing their work with others. People become familiar with the artists, and then hopefully, they continue to follow their creative evolution.

Our collaboration with Wagner Skis took the “functional art” to the next level. Wagner skis are works of art to begin with, and by adding “real” artwork to the top sheet, both needs are met: winter essential and unique artwork — it’s a win-win for all.

Another way we’ve honored our mission has been observing the journey of our dear friend Ellie Swensson, who just had her first book published, Salt of Us. Ellie was a tenant in the Warehouse for a year and a half. She was dedicated to making her dream come true — creating a space for the creative word and love and acceptance. Like many determined artists, Ellie was willing to sacrifice time and money to get her message out there. As things go, Ellie moved on, but her thematic writing got better with time as she began processing and reflecting on her journey. Going full circle, we hosted Ellie’s book release on November 7 by sponsoring her event in The BCC Warehouse.

What’s inspiring you in the community right now?

Boulder’s art scene is building momentum with creatives and the public’s support. Leah Brenner, a veteran in the Boulder art community, launched Streetwise Boulder earlier this month. Many of the city’s buildings and alleys have been updated with fresh, new and bold murals by artists who have something to talk about.

What’s your version of “creative” beyond the dictionary definition? 

Censorship and art are two things that don’t belong together. Support freedom of expression!

Finish this quote: In art, … we can find ourselves.

You often hear, there are no mistakes in art. Describe an instance where you “failed forward” when it comes to running BCC. 

In the beginning, we thought everyone respected and craved art, but we’ve learned that art is taken for granted. If people aren’t purchasing artwork and supporting local artists, how can we better serve the community? By becoming a nonprofit, we’ve been able to fundraise to support and continue the programming that is necessary for the cultural experience. We’ve tried the traditional route in the white wall environment, but it wasn’t enough. With the lack of contemporary gallery spaces, we created the ALT.ART program is a partnership with local businesses that provide wall space to exhibit local artists. This is another solution to bridge that gap between viewer and artist.

Currently reading/listing/watching:

Reading: Conversations with Artists by Heidi Zuckerman/Listening: Skimm’d from the Couch/Watching: Schitt’s Creek, also, The Price of Everything

What are you most excited about for the future of BCC?

Gifting the artist in residence to the deserving artists and seeing how far it will go.