Inspired: Art at Work

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Project Description

INSPIRED: Art at Work will bring 2 visiting artists and 2 local artists to socially engaged projects in summer 2018. Working closely with scientists, and policy-makers, and five local partner organizations: Citizens for a Healthy Community, Western Slope Conservation Center, Farm and Food Alliance, Solar Energy International, and North Fork Valley Creative Coalition; artists will create socially-engaged works exploring issues such as: preservation of culture and environment, creation of a resilient economy in rural Colorado, and values under threat by fracking, development, and loss of jobs. These collaborations and a final symposium are designed to broadly engage community dialog on concerns vital to the future of this rural area.

Through a series of meetings/discussions, the artists and community members will define a particular issue or set of issues such as, the impact of energy development, Gunnison River health, air quality, changing energy resources, the loss of coal mining jobs, changing cultural norms, etc.

FEBRUARY Artist cross-pollination! 

When? On Saturday, Feb. 17th 10:30AM-noon.  Who?  Elsewhere Studios hosts an event for this project's selected artists, our 5 project partners, scientific and advisory collaborators, and the public are encouraged to attend.  What? Why?  We'll have short Q & A's, a chance for all participants to find sparks of interest and reasons to dig deeper, give the visiting artists the context of our community and North Fork Valley.  Brunchy-snacks too.   Where?  Paradise Theater, Paonia, CO; please join us!

 Selected local Artists:

  Christine Palafox & Tanya Blacklight-               Ritual dance      

We will design an Eco Dance, the purposes of which will be to generate awareness and response to the approval of 146 fracking wells upstream from the Paonia reservoir.

The project will result in a multimedia, filmed, live community dance ritual performed on site in nature, particularly in and on bodies of water, forest, and farms that sustain us.    Juxtaposed imagery of proposed sites and fracking machinery with contemporary, ancient, and ethnic dance movement, costuming, props, and media will be the primary means for delivering the message.    For the creative process we will apply renowned modern dancer, Anna Halprin’s, “RSVP Cycles” methodology for creative collaboration.


 Clara Pena, Matt Jenkins and John Steele -            FILM 

I think our community’s story has the potential to resonate with people across Colorado and the globe because, as James Joyce put it, “in the particular is contained the universal.”  Our valley’s struggle is the universal struggle for survival and prosperity.

 I want to explore with the people of our community what a successful local economy would look like, and how we might achieve that.  The film would ask how we, like our successful neighboring towns of Aspen, Salida, or Glenwood Springs, can create a resilient economy that's good for the people and the land.  Do we pursue a solar or agricultural niche?  Nurture an economy based on tourism?  How would each type of development impact us and future generations?

I also want to hear from people who favor extractive industries--how that could be a good economy for the valley.  How would industrial development impact the next generations? I hope the film allows people from many perspectives to celebrate the history of our valley while reimagining our economic future. 

In addition to this current documentary project, the team will also be creating a mini-series exploring the artists and aspects of INSPIRED: Art at Work, and will involve students from Montrose High School's advanced multimedia classes.  The video above is an example of Clara's past work.  


 Selected visiting artists:

 Anna Macleod-                                                          social actions, sculpture, drawings

My ongoing work, 'Water Conversations', examines the politics, traditions and practices surrounding water in a variety of global locations. The ambition for this body of work is to tease out the commonalities, local problems and interlinked futures of our planet in the management and consumption of finite water resources.  Water is an emotive tool to explore such areas as land use, entrophy, energy production, permaculture, and environmental threats.

In the space of the workshops / think tanks, a process of ‘Troubling’ is a useful tool, where participants anticipate and discuss known problems or barriers and tease out ways to circumnavigate psychological and concrete obstacles to imagining different futures for water and land management.

John Melvin-                                                                     Visual Artist in Ecological Change

Our world is grappling with economic and ecological realities, yet we don’t universally see the simplicity of their interdependence.  I uncover these inter-dependent relationships and present them in artworks to provoke and instigate dialog; I make totems, installations, and other anomalies to provoke cross-cultural dialog moving towards common ground we all share.  I increasingly incorporating clean-ups, material collections, and pollution/consumption awareness workshops and exhibitions within my work.   

John Melvin has been involved with more than 14 exhibitions globally, exploring ecology, beauty, and impact and change.  On Instagram @johnkmelvin


What is 'Socially Engaged Art'?  “an art medium that focuses on social engagement, inviting collaboration with individuals, communities, and institutions in the creation of art that informs a social issue”.


Final Symposium: August 24-26

The work produced during this collaboration will be highlighted along with readings, films, music, live art, and tours of the valley to visit art installations, farms, and wineries. 

Please email Karen Good at with any questions.



  • February 2018 Artist introduction and videoconference cross-pollination event with partners and science support people.

  • April 2018 Preliminary project press release due, with headshot and image of past work

  • July and August, 2018 Artists in-Residence at Elsewhere Studios (two months)

  • August 24-26, 2018 (TBC) Symposium held (artists participate)


About the funding:

INSPIRED: Art at Work is made possible by a $25,000 grant from the Arts in Society Program, a collaboration between Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Colorado Creative Industries, and Hemera Foundation in partnership with RedLine Contemporary Art Center. Elsewhere was chosen as one of 23 recipients from a field of over 265 applicants.  An additional $5000 was contributed by Anschutz Foundation.

Grant awardees were selected based on the applicant’s ability to illustrate artistic excellence, broaden the understanding of the role arts play in society, demonstrate cross-sector work, exhibit cultural relevancy, foster community engagement, and present opportunities for shared learning.

These awards support  Elsewhere Studios  to offer fully-funded residencies for this program with artist stipends, living space, and materials budget; we are proud of our work in sustaining and creating cross-pollination opportunities.

“This initiative responds to the growing desire of artists and arts organizations to use their creativity and talents to make a difference in their community. At the same time those engaged in issues like education, poverty, public safety and health increasingly are looking to the arts as a partner in their work. We embrace this opportunity to support this work in our community."    -Gary Steuer of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation