Art is often made in isolation, but the community around its maker can inspire and influence the final result. Sometimes, an art scene is more than the sum of its parts.
That’s the idea behind B.L.A.M., an event on Friday, Dec. 7, at prAna on the Pearl Street Mall. Combining three wonderful elements — beer, local art and music — into one night, the event is a way for artists to connect with the public and each other, strengthening the at-times anemic art scene in Boulder.
The event is the brainchild of Josh Doolittle, who brought the event with him when he moved from Jackson Hole, Wyo., a few years back. His story begins after he graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1995 with a degree in industrial design — a field that fills in the blanks “once architecture ends,” he says. He worked hard and got an internship designing Teva sandals, but he turned down the company’s job offer after his dream of working at an exciting outdoors company clashed with the dull reality of actually being there.
He wanted more of a fulfilling job, and his position at Teva would have
been doing what the marketing team told him to do, when what he really
wanted was to “phase out of the planned obsolescence” that is modern
Cathedral Peak in Yosemite National Park, Calif. Watercolor wash on cardstock. | By Josh Doolittle
In the search for a more meaningful existence he wandered around the country for a few years, went on a “nomadic carpentry spree” and ended up as a ski bum in Jackson Hole. It was during a shoulder season when he and a bunch of friends were sitting in Jackson’s Snake River Brewing Company drinking beers and had the idea to put on an art show. None of the people at the table made enough art to throw a solo art show, Doolittle says, but they figured if they combined forces they could cover the walls of the brewery.
“It was people realizing that they needed to commit to becoming an artist,” Doolittle says.
They pitched the idea to the brewery, and since it was during a dead time of the year, tourism-wise, the brewery had nothing to lose. A tradition was born.
The first B.L.A.M. event in Jackson Hole had five or six artists participating; the upcoming event will have 13 artists from around town showing off their work. In lieu of a beer sponsor providing drinks, Doolittle encourages people to bring a six-pack of their favorite beer and toss it in the ice bucket.
Mike Grab, the rock-balancing artist of Boulder Creek fame, will provide electronic music as DJ Grab, as well as exhibit photos of some of his mindboggling, physics-defying “gravity glue” sculptures.
Rock Balancing by Mike Grab | Photo by Mike Grab
Other artists on the bill include Andrew Wyatt, Carve Industries, Darren Roebuck, Jeff Brown, Tina Krasnesky, Love Pilot Designs, Phil MacDonald, SIXOL, Susan Herrmann, Triple Scissors and Turner Ridge Photography.
“[B.L.A.M.] is about bringing people together and having a good time and talking about art and stuff,” Grab says. “It’s not necessarily geared toward the whole money aspect of things. It’s just a congregation of free, artistically minded people.”
Doolittle is the common thread among all the artists at the show. With photographs, wooden surfboards, steel furniture, paintings and crochet crafts, a wide variety of mediums will be represented at the show. He describes the artists present as “sort of a fusion of friends, or friends of friends, and random people you met at a bar.”
Carve surfboards are made with reclaimed wood in Lyons. | Photo courtesy of Carve Industries
Doolittle stumbled across Lyons-based Carve Industries while doing some research on a side project of his called Bambitat, where he seeks to expand the use of bamboo to build sustainable housing. Carve makes surfboards and stand-up paddleboards out of reclaimed wood (including beetle-kill pine), and Doolittle thought he had found a kindred spirit, so he invited them to bring a few boards to the show.
“We don’t build these as art,” says Evan Patronik of Carve, “but as a beneficial side product, they are art. … When we finish one, I’m kind of amazed. I’d say probably half the people who see the boards say they would never ride it; they want to put it up in their living rooms.”
Boulder’s art scene could use some help, according to Doolittle (his pithy description for the scene was “lame”). Interacting with local artists, though, is like fertilizer for a creative community, and events like B.L.A.M., as well as the Boulder RAW Artists event happening Dec. 12 at Absinthe House, help grow a scene. Grab, the rock-balancer, says the artists are in Boulder, there’s just not much interaction with the community.
“It’s really interesting,” Grab says. “There’s a lot of underground art going on as far as graffiti that I see around town. I feel there’s a strong movement of artists. Whether they’re known or unknown to the general population, I feel like there are a lot of things going, and most people aren’t really tuned into things.”
B.L.A.M. happens at prAna 5:30-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7. Admission is free. 1147 Pearl St., Boulder. Call 303-449-2199.