RAW: Boulder altogether

RAW:natural born artists brings together artists for a giant, mixed-media exhibition

DJ Cheeseburger by Mark Simmons, aka Moxxy

“Expressions,” a RAW:natural born artists showcase, is mixing different forms of art to generate a new event and creative atmosphere different from any other venue in Boulder.

On June 2, the showcase will feature more than 30 up-and-coming local artists, spanning visual art, fashion, photography, performing arts and music.

RAW:natural born artists is an organization that works with artists within the first 10 years of their careers, educating them on self-promotion. RAW holds showcases and works with artists in more than 70 cities in the United States, Canada and Australia. Last year, RAW held around a half-dozen showcases in Boulder. “Expressions” aims to give local artists the exposure needed to jump-start their careers.

Artists can have a hard time managing the business side of the art world, says Giulia Pecone, director of the Boulder showcase. Meeting the right people and getting their work featured and sold can be a struggle. RAW tries to educate artists about the promotional side of their business.

Photography by Breonna Clark, who will participate in the event

“We don’t see ourselves as promoters,” Pecone says. “We’re more like the tools and resources for the artist.”

The showcases allow artists to get unique exposure, and they draw an engaged, creative audience that wants to appreciate the art rather than simply check out the event, says jewelry designer Tara Walker.

“It’s a totally different kind of atmosphere,” Walker says. “When people go to a show like that, it’s not like a casual, ‘I’m going to walk into this store and kind of give it the once-over and not really care that much.’ If you buy a ticket to go to something like this, you’re invested in taking the time to look at things and to appreciate them.”

Photographer Breonna Clark has previously shown her work at venues like the 16th Street Art Festival in Denver and says she is looking forward to the more engaged audience at the RAW showcase. She plans to use the showcase to introduce her high fashion photography series, a break from the portraits she typically does.

Bracelets created by Tara Walker

“It’s a smaller crowd, but it’s a crowd that’s more there for the art instead of just walking around to see what’s going on,” Clark says. “That’s definitely something different.”

The showcase allows artists of different mediums to interact with one another, sharing ideas, creative energy — and an audience. On a walkthrough of Absinthe House, the venue where “Expressions” will be held, Mark “Moxxy” Simmons, a featured artist and teacher at FactoryMade, says he got a sense of the showcase’s atmosphere.

“Just feeling the energy of every other artist there, it’s going to be different than most other shows,” Simmons says. “Most artists are kind of nervous, skeptical about the turn out. And honestly RAW has made it very welcoming for all these artists to come and be themselves without feeling intimidated or anything.”

The artists featured in “Expressions” say they are excited to share their work with a more diverse audience. The many forms of art at RAW showcases are intended to encourage creativity and community among the featured artists. The variety of art forms allows collaboration not only in the art itself but also in the artists’ self-promotion.

“A lot of my visual artists have paired up with musicians, and so now they go to concerts and they do live art at concerts,” Pecone says. “Musicians have met a lot of photographers, so they tend to cross-promote each other and work together. Fashion artists have met a lot of accessory artists and models that come to our events that work with other artists.”

Melanie Steinway of Howl Moonshine Howl | Photo by Ian Glass

Melanie Steinway, singer and guitarist of featured band Howl Moonshine Howl, made local connections through a previous RAW showcase when her visual art, made on large pieces of wood, was featured. Steinway met another artist who worked on wood panels, and they discussed creating a silkscreen studio together.

“It’s always nice meeting local people who kind of do what you do,” Steinway says.

“Expressions” is expected to introduce new faces to the Boulder art scene.

“As a Boulder native, I’m excited to think that this town’s art scene is going to continue to grow and expand,” says Linzee Klinkenberg, artistic director of New Breed Dance Company, the featured performing arts group in RAW. “Too much talent to waste, sending us out of town, out of state. Let’s keep us here at home and thriving.”

“Expressions” starts at 6 p.m. Sunday, June 2 at the Absinthe House. Must be 21 to enter. Fashionable attire required. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Visit www.rawartists.org/boulder for more information.

Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Giulia Pecone.

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