Community collaboration

mmmmmBoulder aims to bring artists together

A still from the short film Good Dog
Photo courtesy of Don Sniffin

If anyone can appreciate an unexpected collaboration, it’s singer-songwriter Lisa Bell. Her most recent album, The Italian Project, began when the Boulder native reconnected with a high school friend she hadn’t seen in more than 25 years. The friends reunited through Facebook and it sparked an idea that would affect the next four years of Bell’s music career.

“I realized she had a band in Italy and it resulted in a back and forth series of concerts and tours, and I actually went to Italy in 2011,” Bell says. “We Skyped and wrote songs, and it turned in to this beautiful project.”

Bell hopes she’ll see her fair share of new creative partnerships flourish at her annual art show, mmmmmBoulder, at The Dairy Center for the Arts. This will be the event’s third year bringing together Boulder County musicians, performing artists, filmmakers, foodies and modern artists. Bell says that by mutually exposing each other to new things, she hopes the community will stoke the flames of Boulder’s art scene.

“I really wanted to create an outlet where all of the artists could present their work all in one place and people could cross-pollinate [interests] with one another,” Bell explains. “So people who are film buffs can experience new music for the first time and people who are art lovers can discover all of the other things offered.”

mmmmmBoulder’s main event is a seated live show that switches between short films and music, with live art and performance art elements tossed in the mix. To accompany one of Bell’s songs, for example, Frequent Flyers Productions, Inc. will stage an aerial dance performance and, during another musical act, Jane Whittlesey will paint onstage. But to make sure mmmmmBoulder is a cohesive experience, the night has a thematic thread to tie everything together: “Be uplifted by the best of Boulder’s arts.”

The founder of Janis Kelly & the Global Soul Experience and Earthdance, singer Janis Kelly, says this is the perfect venue for her songs that promote peace and cultural understanding.

“I really am a soul singer, but I like to call it higher vibe soul, because the music definitely has a message with it,” Kelly says. “So all the music will be funky, soulful, danceable, but also uplifting.”

The evening’s six shorts, each under 15 minutes in length, will also keep the night’s tone lighthearted. “Good Dog,” for one, tells the delightful story of a dog who can see the future. Director Don Sniffin says he had a great time training his own dog for the shoot.

“I would use a doggy treat, and she would run to a certain spot and lay down and get a treat,” Sniffin says. “Now she’ll just run to that spot, lay down and wait for her treat. I’m like, ‘Goofball, I didn’t say action!’” For another film, “Pueblo,” filmmakers Eve Richer and Ben Raznick cast a mannequin head (“Erika”) as a main character. Shot entirely in Spain during Richer and Raznick’s teaching stint abroad, their film exists in a world where everyone views Erika as real. Raznick says that at a certain point, the character took on a life of its own in their small town.

“I think people at first thought it was a weird, crazy idea, but it was pretty immediate that they started falling in love with this mannequin head,” Raznick says. “It was this kind of phenomenon.”

The monologues, performed by The Catamounts, are a new addition in the lobby this year, along with rock balancing by the internationally recognized Mike Grab in front of the building. Before the show and during intermission, locally owned natural product companies will dole out samples and Comida and Heirloom food trucks will have food for purchase outside.

The lobby of The Dairy Center for the Arts will also house various modern art selections, ranging from metal jewelry by Linda Parks to revamped broken guitars by Kahlie Sue Pinello. Pinello says that, as an artist who only began refining her craft full-time three years ago, she is grateful for the supportive community of artists and patrons that mmmmmBoulder fosters.

“There’s a lot of people that are more educated than I am, more skilled than I am, but to have a community back you up and push you so that they expect from you and are excited for you, that is what makes you,” Pinello says. “I find that this mmmmmBoulder really embraces that and all the different arts.”


ON THE BILL: mmmmmBoulder takes place on Saturday, April 27, at The Dairy Center for The Arts. The lobby opens at 5:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the door or at