For the past two months, Briget Heidmous has spent at least three nights a week and one all-day weekend session working in The Machine Shop.
She's the current artist in residence there, with her own little studio near a smattering of company workspaces. An encaustic artist, the 25-year-old has set up her workstation with electric griddles to melt the beeswax she works with, a dog bed for her dachshund mix Sherman, and a TV.
"I'll just put on Netflix," she says. "It helps keep you up late."
Heidmous, who works days at Colorado College's I.D.E.A. Space as assistant to the curator, is the second artist in residence at the Machine Shop, following Tim Thornton. The program is organized by Valerie Lloyd, Machine Shop office manager and wife to Ryan of Echo Architecture. Valerie, who has worked as an art teacher and paints a little, wanted to encourage artists and add their creative energy to the Shop.
"I think it's just good to have people making things with their hands alongside people who are in front of a computer all day," she says with a laugh.
Each residency lasts three months, and 30 percent of the artists' show sales go back to the Shop. Heidmous' show, titled Intergalactic Micro Ecosystems, is slated for Dec. 5. She's playing with ideas of natural systems in unknowable places, like novae or black holes, and represents them in what she calls "low-relief" sculpture. Unlike a lot of encaustic artists who smooth the surface of the wax, Heidmous' work is organic and textural.
Waiting for the product to melt, then cool and harden, is time-intensive, especially when Heidmous routinely uses up to 10 coats of thin wax for the bases of her work. But at least she's not alone. On the night I visit, Troy DeRose, an artist and co-owner of Fixer Creative Co., stops by to chat, discussing what appears to be a period of Mercury in retrograde (hence the bad week everyone's been having).
"I really enjoy the community part of it," Heidmous says. "All through college I had shared studios, and I really enjoyed that because it was just nice for someone to come in and say, 'Oh, I like that,' or 'Oh, that looks bad. You should really reassess your goals.'"
In addition to the residency, Lloyd manages two-day shows on many First Fridays, most recently a dual affair with Jeremiah Houck and Daniel Romano at the start of October. (Artists interested in participating should visit jointhemachine.com.)
Though the program is still in its "grand experiment" phase, Lloyd says the feedback has been positive thus far. And while helping fulfill the dreams of artists like Heidmous, the arrangement is fulfilling a dream of the Lloyds.
"When we were in Portland, that was really common," Valerie says. "An architecture office would participate in a First Friday and then have art on the walls and host a little opening every month. It worked great, because it's just another kind of creativity, you know?"