An Arts Alley District off Bijou Street?
One thousand empty chairs lined up the middle of Manitou Avenue?
Cry "preposterous!" or "brilliant!" if you wish, but that's not stopping members from all over our community — artists, architects, promoters, directors and community-involved citizens — from brainstorming about potential artistic, civic and creative endeavors in the area.
To a crowd of 50-ish of their kind (preaching to the choir a bit for potential collaboration and support), these six presenters offered 10-minute insights into their respective and hopeful projects.
Chair Project presenter and co-organizer Sean O' Meallie explained that the art event falls under the categorization of social practice, which he calls the "hottest field of contemporary art today," capable of truly engaging communities.
Among the other presentations, Modbo and S.P.Q.R. owners Brett and Lauren Andrus advocated for turning the alleyway outside of their galleries into an arts district to make it more inviting and attractive.
Visions for what that would look like include improved lighting, permeable paving for safe pedestrian traffic, having artists paint features like the electrical boxes (like in Fort Collins) and occasionally closing thru-traffic for special events.
Andrea Baker of HB&A, a local architecture and planning firm, offered the slickest presentation in terms of visuals.
Having sought the input of Palmer High School students, among others, her team created a series of renderings of a redesigned Acacia Park. To be clear, these were very imaginative sketches, many of which would likely command an unfeasible price tag at least at this point in time. (But hey — don't bother the dreamer about money woes.)
Some potential features: move the General Palmer statue into the middle of the park (this was met with some cheers from the crowd); add elevation and significant landscaping, as well as more water features; add community gardens; turn the police substation into a café with expansive seating; and incorporate underground parking.
We'll keep you updated on these projects and the few others I did not detail as they come to fruition, or fizzle, as we hear updates.
I would like to say, that as an observer, I was inspired to see the effort — much of it volunteer-based — going into projects that could brighten and benefit our city at large. Let it not be said that our arts community doesn't have a mindful eye on the scene, with big ideas in mind.