To get feedback from nearly 2,500 miles away, painters at Colorado Springs' Peak at the Arts festival will need no crates, stamps or airplane tickets. Their works in progress will travel via a live video stream to artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design in San Jose, Costa Rica. And while two musicians here play grand pianos, and dancers from the local Ormao Dance Company perform to the music, the artists there will take it all in and tell the Colorado Springs painters, through Bluetooth headsets, what to paint based on the mood.
"It speaks to the real, live human condition of reactions which are inevitable in dealing with art," says John McLaughlin, founder and director of this inaugural "global artists exchange festival."
Peak at the Arts, set for Friday and Saturday, is comprised of seven projects, including the one above. Each piece will be built in collaboration between a choreographer, a live composer and a visual artist. Their efforts will come together onstage, ostensibly creating two nights of performance art. Before each show, guests will experience films, poetry, visual art and other performances in the lobby of the Pikes Peak Center.
McLaughlin says more than 225 artists are on the festival docket, including a dance company and visual artist from Costa Rica, a drum ensemble from Japan, and locals including 3rd Law Dance/Theater company from Boulder and the Colorado Springs Chorale. He hopes an equally diverse audience will come out to appreciate art from around the world.
Working with a sponsorship from eight local arts organizations to put on the festival, McLaughlin says he, as one of the choreographers, was grateful for the opportunity to give a variety of artists the chance to perform with each other.
"The pairings were sort of a grab bag," he says. "People would say, 'I've never danced in front of a film before, so let's project a film while I dance to live drums.' It's not a new idea, but it's a new experience for those particular artists.
"Sometimes dancers don't go see music or visual artists don't see theater, and on and on," he adds, "but now we can sit in a theater and share each other's audiences as we all focus on the work on the stage."
When the two-day festival is over, the work will be shared in a more conventional way: Roberto Lizano, a visual artist from Costa Rica, will photograph the art created in one of the festival workshops and exhibit the images at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design in San Jose.
"That's where the global artist exchange philosophy of the festival comes in," McLaughlin says. "Work comes in to Colorado Springs and work goes out. There are no aesthetic policemen."