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Art Center Survey

May 12, 2008

An idea that’s been kicked around town for years is back again: a community art space for Salida.

What does this mean, and who would be interested? That’s what “Art Works. For the Heart of the Rockies,” a local organization supporting the arts and art education, wishes to find out through a current survey.

First, please take note of where the survey may be found and when it’s due. Surveys may be picked up from and returned to: cultureclash gallery, The Windmill Restaurant, The Salida Chamber of Commerce, and Salida Public Library.

(Actually, that’s Salida Regional Library, but how I would love to be Salida Public Library again. Good word, public.)

The survey form may also be had at, and completed surveys may be mailed in, as well. They are due by June 1. It’s only one page.

The Community Art Space Survey gets right to the point:

“We believe Salida deserves a world class community art space, dedicated to fostering the arts and creative endeavors of all kinds. This physical space would provide a location for: working studios, gallery, arts education, artist-in-residence programs, and a welcoming gathering venue for anyone interested in the arts.”

Through the survey, Art Works hopes to find out (i) who is interested in the idea, (ii) what ideas people have to offer, and (iii) what help people can provide.

Community art centers abound. One good example is Durango’s Smiley Building—a 45,000-square-foot Depression-era junior high school transformed over the past decade into a hub of community activity.

The Smiley Building is a center for arts, education, and creativity. It’s downtown. It’s a showcase of energy efficiency and solar power. At the same time, it was meticulously restored.

Over the past decade, the building’s owners have reduced the building’s energy costs from $5,000/month to less than $400/month. Who wouldn’t want to do that now? Soon enough, it will be imperative.

The Smiley Building may be a remarkable accomplishment as a physical plant, but the real point is the success of its mission. Thirty-five permanent tenants, plus sublettors, bring hundreds of people a day through the building.

Classes include yoga, martial arts, dance, music, drawing, painting, photography, and acting. Services include architecture, web design, massage. The building is also home to some non-profit community organizations as well as a Montessori school.

It happens to have a 600-seat theater, too, not that Salida needs that. If you haven’t drifted past the Steam Plant complex recently, take a walk and check it out.

Durango’s effort is a successful art space that mirrors the community. Salida’s would probably look different. Here are some of the suggestions in the survey for such a space:

Working studios, woodworking, ceramics, fiber arts, sculpture, metal arts, culinary arts, performing arts. This reads much like a description of our valley’s artists already.

The survey genuinely seeks your input. Many people have examined this idea separately and together for at least a decade. Perhaps the time has come to create a community art space.

Salida used to have a lot of galleries that were working studios, but they’ve mostly been priced out of downtown. I’ve heard metalsmiths and ceramicists wishing for studio space for workshops.

I know we’ve searched several times for studio space for artists-in-residence. And in the performing arts, rehearsal space is scarce.

If you have ideas and opinions along these lines, please fill out the survey. Don’t assume that others have thought of the same thing. State the obvious.

As Alfred North Whitehead noted: “It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.”


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