The 40 West Arts District had a banner year in 2013, with some major shows and important developments for the organization.
“40 West has planned and produced 20 community arts exhibitions and events that included more than 240 artists, …
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“40 West has planned and produced 20 community arts exhibitions and events that included more than 240 artists, artisans, and performers and attracted more than 30,000 people to district-related programs and events,” said Bill Marino, executive director of the Lakewood-West Colfax Business Improvement District. “With our partners we have generated more than $50,000 of revenue for artists and performers — which studies indicate, using a conservative 5X factor, equates to an additional $250,000 of local economic impact.”
A highlight of the year was a visit from Artspace — a nonprofit organization that works to bring live-work space for artists — which is taking a look at Lakewood as its next project location.
The organization was in town for two days in August on a preliminary feasibility visit to seek out possible locations for a live-work space, as well as meet with community artists, businesses and officials to see if there is an interest in creating this new kind of community in the city.
“This is really a discovery mission for us, to see what is here and what might be needed,” said Wendy Holmes, senior vice president of Consulting & Strategic Partnerships. “We’ve looked at eight or nine places where we could possibly set up a campus, and then spent a lot of time on focus groups with local artists as well as members of the finance community.”
Artspace mainly takes existing spaces that are not being used, and reworks them to be galleries, theaters and studios and apartments were artists can live and work. They have done work in Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles and Seattle.
Artspace held a public meeting at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design to give those interested a chance to hear what Artspace does and ask questions.
“I think 2014 is going to be the year of Artspace,” Marino said. “We’re going to be getting people together to participate in a market survey of the area.”
One of the big shows of 2013 was the “Traveling Route 40” photo exhibit, which captured the spirit of Colfax Avenue, both past and present.
After opening at 40 West, half the show will go on a tour of different locations — including the Golden Hill Office Center, Confluence Ministries and The Collection Gallery in Aurora.
“This is great because it’s showing how 40 West can have an impact on working with partners,” Marino said. “We’re open to collaborating with other districts, so this is a great way to start.”
The exhibit was a great conversation starter for people who are interested in discussing Colfax’s 150-year history.
“Colfax is a fascinating place, and there’s a lot of excitement around it right now,” Julie Byerlein, a member of the board for the district and a volunteer with its champion group, said. “I think the show is a great way to inspire discussions about the best things on Colfax.”
The district was one of the 10 finalists for the Denver Regional Council of Governments Live Work Play People’s Choice Award, celebrates places, events and projects that improve and contribute to communities’ long-term success.
Marino said the recognition is a result of the work the entire Colfax corridor is doing.
“At 40 West we’re all about celebrating community, arts, and working together to make whole corridor a better place,” he said. “People see the progress with businesses and W Rail, and get excited.”
40 West also had its first high school show, featuring 14 student artists from Lakewood High School’s Advanced Placement and International Bachalaureate art classes, taught by Gwen Ahlers and Linda Slobodin.
Thanks to a partnership with the West Colfax Community Association and the Lakewood-West Colfax Business Improvement District, Project COLorFAX was launched.
It aims to bring murals and paint jobs to buildings along the corridor to bring energy and vibrancy to the area. The first mural appears on the west-facing wall of the King’s Rest Motel at 7013 W. Colfax Ave. The wall is now a sunshine gold background with luminous clouds and interwoven vines, blossoming flowers and the signature feature of each COLorFAX program, a bedazzled hummingbird.
“I think this campaign shows people that a lot is possible in the area,” Marino said. “That building painting was a great way to let people know we are here.”
The first shows of 2014 are in the works — the first show of the year will be a contemporary fiber exhibition called Unraveled: Fiber Reimagined, running Jan. 31 through Feb. 22.
The second will be a mixed media show called Vintage Colfax: Yesterday and Today. It will run March 7 through April 5.
For more information about the district, visit www.40westarts.org.
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