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COVER HED: An Unseen Summer of ‘69

Sly Stone in “Summer of Soul.” The film will get a sneak preview drive-in at Snowmass Town Park on Sunday. Courtesy photo

What: ‘Summer of Soul’ Drive-In, presented by Aspen Film

Where: Snowmass Town Park

When: 8:45 p.m. Sunday, June 20

How much: $50 per vehicle (VIP packages also available)

Tickets: aspenfilm.org


‘Summer of Soul’ will be released in theaters and will begin streaming on Hulu on Friday, July 2.

The Woodstock music festival has been so cherished, lionized, analyzed and well-documented in pop culture since 1969 that the word itself is all you need to conjure countless iconic rock ’n’ roll images, hippie fashions and larger themes about its political era and the Baby Boomers.

In contrast, what some have called the “Black Woodstock,” hosted in Harlem that same summer, has left almost no cultural footprint, has been erased from history and forgotten. A new documentary seeks to right that wrong, bringing the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival to vivid, celebratory life on-screen.

“Summer of Soul (… or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” which won both the U.S. Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for documentary at the virtual Sundance Film Festival in January, will play theaters nationwide and stream on Hulu beginning July 2. It gets a drive-in sneak preview screening on Sunday, June 20, at Snowmass Town Park.

The film tells of how 300,000 people attended the festival over six weekends that summer in what is now Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, creating what one attendee calls “the ultimate Black barbecue.” It offers a front row seat for enthralling performances by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Nina Simone and Sly and the Family Stone (the 2021 version of which plays the Jazz Aspen June Experience June 26 and 27).

“Nobody has ever heard of the Harlem Cultural Festival – nobody would believe it ever happened,” one attendee says early in the film.

“Summer of Soul” will have outdoor screenings this weekend in Snowmass Town Park and Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, where it was filmed in 1969. It goes to theaters and streaming on July 2.

Directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, the Roots drummer and “Tonight Show” bandleader making his debut as a filmmaker, “Summer of Soul” is a powerhouse piece of entertainment that also serves as a work of historical excavation and a correction of Black erasure.

The film addresses the fact that the festival has not made it into the history books while also adroitly placing the concert series within its moment in history — the upheaval of race riots, Vietnam protests and the heroin epidemic as well as the evolution from the old-school civil rights movement to the new Black nationalism and ascendancy of the Black Panthers (who provided security for the festival). The funk, soul and gospel sounds on stage in Harlem were inextricably a part of the freedom struggle.

“It was like we were going to war, and we were propelled on a wave of music,” Black Panther Cyril “Bullwhip” Innis Jr. says in the film.

Mayor John Lindsay, a supporter who attended the festival — dubbed “our blue-eyed soul brother” by host and producer Tony Lawrence — had supported it in hopes of keeping the peace in Harlem on the one-year anniversary of Martin Luther King’s murder.

Mavis Staples and Mahalia Jackson in “Summer of Soul.” Courtesy photo

The emotional heart of the film is a moving section in which the Rev. Jesse Jackson tells the story of King’s last moments from the stage and recalls the hymn he requested after his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, “Precious Lord,” which leads into a torch-passing moment between the legendary Mahalia Jackson and a young Mavis Staples singing it beside Jackson.

“That was the time of my life,” Staples recalls in the film.

The social context, the filmmakers knew, had to be up front in “Summer of Soul.”

“It couldn’t just be a context-less film,” producer Joseph Patel said in an interview Tuesday. “We wouldn’t be doing the music justice or the story justice.”

It also speaks to the current moment and the movement for Black lives without directly addressing the parallels between 1969 and now.

“When George Floyd was murdered and the subsequent uprising happened around the country, I think it was very clear that we didn’t need to do that,” Patel said. “It was obvious to people now, if it hadn’t been before. So we didn’t really need to draw a line very overtly. People would be able to see it for themselves.”

Stevie Wonder in “Summer of Soul.” Provided

The film opens with a young Stevie Wonder — dressed in a brown raincoat and yellow ruffled shirt, on the precipice of the 1970s breakthroughs as an artist and activist — playing an extended drum solo.

“I don’t think a lot of audiences — unless you’re a deep Stevie Wonder fan — has ever seen him play drums before,” Patel said. “There’s just all sorts of little gems like that.”

Once post-Baby Boom generations start seeing “Summer of Soul,” expect a spike in downloads and streams of music by acts like The 5th Dimension and Herbie Mann, who are captured in showstopping sets.

Some of the performances the film captures are astounding. Nina Simone performing a defiant “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” for instance, and Sly and the Family Stone at the height of their powers doing a call-and-response on “I Want to Take You Higher,” the Chambers Brothers doing a propulsive “Going Uptown to Harlem,” which serves as a frenetic scene-setter early in the documentary.

With Questlove at the helm, the film keeps an impeccable and propulsive rhythm going as it intercuts performances with recollections of attendees.

The filmmakers and editor Joshua L. Pearson whittled it down from 40 hours of unseen footage from the festival, which producer Robert Fyvolent found 12 years ago.

A college classmate had told him about this treasure trove of film from the forgotten festival, so he tracked down Hal Tulchin, who had filmed the festival on four cameras with plans to make a documentary or television special about it in 1969. But it had stayed in canisters at his Bronxville home for 50 years as he could not get anyone to finance or release a film.

“He had the footage right there in his house in his basement,” Fyvolent recalled. “I convinced him that this was the time to get this film out.”

The reason was clear why Tulchin’s Harlem project was thwarted as the entertainment industry and press embraced Woodstock.

“It was just racism,” said Fyvolent. “There were three networks at the time, and none of them were interested in the material. Over the years he was discouraged that was the case. He knew this footage was important.”

Tulchin died before he could see the film released but was gratified to see Fyvolent and Questlove pick up the mantle, the filmmakers recalled.

“He had a lot more faith in people than he should have, maybe,” Patel said.

Once they digitized the 40 hours of old film, Questlove kept the footage running on a loop at home as he conceptualized “Summer of Soul.”

“He was like a kid in a candy story and finding thee morsels in the footage,” producer David Dinerstein recalled, noting how Questlove went granular — recognizing obscure session musicians in the backing bands — and also clearly saw the arc of the big picture story.

Among the gifts of Tulchin’s footage is that he kept a camera trained on the crowd throughout the festival, capturing the celebration of community in Harlem, the high fashion and dashikis and afro styles of the day and the joy of the multi-generational crowd. The film itself is remarkably preserved, offering crisp sunlit visuals of this dream of an experience.

“We’ve joked that, in a way, the fact that nobody wanted to make this for so long meant the reels were actually in really good shape,” Patel said.

The “Summer of Soul” creative team made the film during the pandemic, working remotely and in the stretch when live music performance was shut down. As the U.S. reopens, they’re hopeful “Summer of Soul” will soundtrack and fuel the rebirth at hand.

“I hope people get out of their cages and have a good time,” Fyvolent said. “In part, this movie is a celebration of community and of music — that there is power in community and power in song.”


‘We’re alive and we’re a beautiful culture:’ Champion fancy dancer performing to educate at Glenwood Caverns

Larry Yazzie performs for the crowd at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

World Champion Fancy Dancer Larry Yazzie is performing at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park throughout the summer.

Yazzie, who was raised at the Meskwaki Nation’s homelands in Tama, Iowa, said he did a site visit at the adventure park in February and realized he could make a difference in the area through performance.

“I think they were just opening up. My purpose is to educate and break those stereotypes — give them a little bit of history,” Yazzie said. “Let me know we’re still here. We’re not just in museums or in history books. We’re alive, and we’re a beautiful culture.”

Yazzie said it takes a special gift to capture a moving audience.

“I do this all the time,” Yazzie said. “I do a lot of fairs and festivals. Most of the time, my audience is moving. To capture a moving audience takes a special knack for it.”

Larry Yazzie performs for the crowd at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Yazzie is also here to pay respect to the Ute Tribe, which ties into a current movement called the land acknowledgement.

“That is to acknowledge the land that we walk on, work on, pray on,” Yazzie said. “This is Ute Territory. I make an offering and give prayers and thank the ancestors for allowing me to be here to share my gift.”

Larry Yazzie performs for the crowd at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Yazzie is performing three times a day, three times a week in Glenwood, which makes for many miles to travel.

“I just drove over 900 miles to be here yesterday,” Yazzie said during an interview June 8.

“You’re going to see color, movement, a beautiful culture right here in your own backyard. Not to toot my own horn, but like I said earlier I have a knack to capture the audience, to educate them and entertain them at the same time.”

Larry Yazzie performs for the crowd at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

If there ever were a time to help educate folks, now is as good a time as ever, Yazzie said.

”This pandemic allowed us to look inside ourselves,” Yazzie said. “Many people look to the native philosophy of taking care of the land, and not desecrate it or destroy it so it’s there for generations to come. I sense that more and more people are tuning into our philosophy.”

If you go…

Larry Yazzie will be performing at 3 p.m, 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. every Monday, Tuesday and Friday at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park plaza through Labor Day.

For more information on Yazzie, visit his Tik ToK page at TikTok.com/@larryyazzie?lang=en.

Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or smarvel@postindependent.com.

‘It had to be theater for me:’ Carbondale actor uses the stage to process, share experiences of loss

Voices Program Director & Lead Teaching Artist Cassidy Willey and her three-year-old son Elliot hang out in Sopris Park in Carbondale.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Cassidy Willey exhaled deeply before taking center stage and guiding the audience back with her to one of the most challenging years of her life.

“I lost my mom in 2018, and after going through that year, there were so many moments where I felt like I had to tell this story. Some of this is so unbelievable and beautiful and devastating, and surprisingly funny in the midst of all of it,” Willey said.

Willey is used to juggling roles — as an actor, director, educator, writer and mother — but in her play “As Close As I Can,” she’s created a one-woman show based on the true experiences spotlighting different moments of vulnerability, grief and joy. The only other voice besides Willey’s heard in the 45-minute production is that of Missy Moore, who narrates the second half to several conversations while tucked backstage.

“New play development is a great passion of mine, because I find it to be the future of our craft. … The trust that (she’s) putting into us and the way in which we develop and create new pieces is just astounding. It’s not only (her) story, but to take (her) story and dramatize it to a place where it resonates is just an amazing journey,” Moore said.

Cassidy’s father, Bob Willey, passed away in 2014 from a stroke combined with his ongoing battle with lung cancer. Willey has a moment in the play where she’s 9 years old and acting alongside her father in a production of “Annie” before she moves into the next scene retelling the suddenness of his death.

Michele Willey, Cassidy’s mother, would work the sound booth or manage the stage for her husband and daughter, intertwining her passion for theater with her love of her family. Michele passed away from ovarian cancer in January 2018, which is the year that inspired Willey to share her experience in the first place.

Voices Program Director & Lead Teaching Artist Cassidy Willey and her three-year-old son Elliot hang out in Sopris Park in Carbondale.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“It didn’t just fall out as a play. And now kind of coming back it feels much closer to what I wanted to write … it had to be theater for me, and I wanted the audience in on it,” Willey said.

Along with Moore, Renee Prince is directing the production, Brendan T. Cochran is stage manager and Kristin Carlson is a script consultant. All of them are helping Willey to refine her story as a play and really immerse her audience into these moments that contained laughter as well as pain.

“Theatermaking feels a lot like midwifery to me, … and this project in particular feels like so much of it is just being there to help guide. It’s fragile and delicate and gutsy and strong, it’s all those things,” Prince said. “Because it’s a group of women here, and it’s a play about being a mother, motherhood and being mothered and mothering. That’s all in the room with us. And we don’t get to be in those spaces all the time.”

Originally slated to premiere in the Denver Fringe Festival of 2020, Willey had to put her production back on the shelf for a long, unexpected year. But for this year’s Fringe Festival, she’ll be performing the world premiere of a play about her, in-person every night of the fest June 24-27.

“There’s an emotional journey here in this rehearsal room every night. I would say we cry most days, which is hard, but also … for me it’s been helpful to process my own grief through telling this story and through reliving it. Not to be in pain, but to find the love, find the acceptance within it is really important,” Willey said.

Carlson, Price and Moore all expressed how honored they were to be trusted with Willey’s story and helping her tell it. While coaching someone on lines in a scene that actually happened to her isn’t easy, Carlson said there’s trust in the process that if they give a note that Willey disagrees with, she’s the ultimate expert in how these experiences played out.

“Cassidy is one tough cookie. It is excruciatingly vulnerable to write, period. Let alone to write one’s own story as a play and to do it with such integrity, ferocity of spirit and generosity to include us,” Carlson said. “And to take to heart and believe that it’s all about shining up who she is. It is about making sure she feels good about this sharing. That she gets to the place and that it’s what she really envisions. And with theater we can’t do that alone, none of us.”

Because Willey grew up in the Roaring Fork Valley, and the theater community knew and embraced her and her parents, she said she hopes to bring the show back to the Western Slope after taking it to the Denver Fringe Festival. While she doesn’t know when that will be or what it will look like, Willey said her most important audience is the folks out here who watched her grow up and survive the loss of her parents yet continue their legacy through her own talent and affinity for the stage.

“That’s the only way with grief is through, you can’t just skip over it, you can’t put it away, you have to go through it, and every day the themes, the moments in here, are present with me. … It’s something that’s at the core of my center right now and will be for the rest of my life,” Willey said.

Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or jpeterson@postindependent.com.

Movie theaters in Garfield County discuss behind the scenes for bringing back the big screen experience

The Crystal Theatre marquee in downtown Carbondale.

Streaming services were the saving grace for many during the height of the pandemic lockdown for COVID-19. Despite the plethora of documentaries, movies and shows available, none of the platforms captured the experience of going to the movie theater, sitting in plush seats and being able to enjoy a film on the big screen.

Movie theaters have had to adapt and find ways to make sitting in a dark room full of strangers feel safe again so individuals could return and have a worry-free visit while still maintaining the movie magic.

Crystal Theatre in Carbondale moved toward streaming films during the pandemic, so folks could buy tickets online and watch from the comfort of their homes. They also took to selling concessions on the weekends, and co-owner Kathy Ezra said it was in these moments when they really felt community support.

“We were really propped up by our patrons during COVID. They just, you know, emails of support, people sent contributions, people way overpaid when Bob would sell concessions. People bought discount passes and gift cards, never knowing when they were going to be able to use them again. The faith and the support and the confidence we got from people … it’s beyond humbling. You know, it’s a real motivator.”

Ezra and her husband, Bob, used the time they were closed to complete some maintenance projects in the theater and improve their ventilation and air purifying setup. The couple made the decision to admit only vaccinated patrons when they launch their soft opening, likely at the end of June.

“We know that’s a little kind of controversial. There might be some pushback on that one, but the assumption was always, when do you reopen? Well, you reopen when everybody’s vaccinated, and (it’s) safe for people to sit there,” Bob Ezra said.

Movieland in El Jebel was available for rent, but Ben Moss, CEO of Bow Tie Cinemas, confirmed its reopening for later this month, as well.

“We are reopening Movieland on June 18 and looking forward to once again serving our loyal customers in the Roaring Fork Valley,” Moss stated in an email.

Brenden Rifle 7 Theaters stands apart from the rest in that it was able to reopen back at the end of August 2020. General manager Tyler Kelly said it took a lot of rethinking their setup to minimize crowds, control the flow of traffic and keep social distancing regulations in place. Because a lot of bigger titles’ release dates were pushed back due to COVID-19, attendance was down for the theater the last few months.

“As movies start to release that have big titles and big actors in them, we’re seeing people come back to the movies. That’s been the biggest driving force in our business,” Kelly said.

He mentioned “F9” from the “Fast and Furious” series and “Black Widow” from Marvel as two of the big premieres he expects to bring many back out to the theaters. A high percentage of employees are vaccinated, Kelly said, and the company encouraged them to get the vaccine with the compensation of four hours of pay. Kelly added that they won’t be asking for proof of vaccination status from patrons and also won’t be enforcing masks.

“We’re just in good faith to give them the option to do what is safe. And if they’re vaccinated, we give them the option to make that choice,” Kelly said.

With the creation of the Brenden Theater app, customers now have the option to reserve their seats ahead of time and even buy concessions beforehand as a way to reduce time in the lobby and streamline the process. Attendees will still be distanced in the theaters with certain seats being closed off, but Kelly said he and his staff are excited for what the summer will bring.

“My staff and I have worked tirelessly to provide a safe environment for our customers to come back to. And we’re going to continue to do that. It’s just a part of the services we would provide anyways. We’re just looking forward to a good summer with good movies and people coming back to see them,” Kelly said.

Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or jpeterson@postindependent.com.

Garfield County Fair concert lineup features Aaron Watson, Michael Ray, Chancey Williams

The Friday night concert is back for the Garfield County Fair and Rodeo in Rifle on July 30, featuring country music stars Aaron Watson, Michael Ray and Chancey Williams, fair organizers announced Monday.

The concert returns to the Garfield County Fairgrounds during the county fair this year after a hiatus last summer due to the pandemic restrictions that were in place. Garfield County commissioners inked the contracts with the performers Monday.

Williams will open the show at 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 30, followed by Ray at 8 p.m. and Watson at 9:30 p.m.

Tickets went on sale Monday at GarfieldCountyFair.com, and information about any potential COVID-19 restrictions will also be posted there ahead of the event, according to a county news release.

Country music artist Aaron Watson.
Zack Massey photo

According to the release, Aaron Watson’s 2015 record “The Underdog” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums, the first independent album to top that chart. His 2017 hit album “Vaquero“ included a Billboard Top-10 single, “Outta Style,” which earned a BMI Millionaire award.

Rolling Stone called Watson “Texas country’s reigning indie underdog,” and Forbes described the Amarillo native as “one of country music’s biggest do-it-yourself success stories.”

Michael Ray has also been a hit-making machine, according to the release. He has had three Billboard No. 1 songs, including “Kiss You in the Morning,” “Think a Little Less” and “One That Got Away.”

Country music artist Michael Ray.
Sean Hagwell photo

During his recent virtual series, Honkytonk Tuesdays, Ray welcomed some of country music’s top stars, including Clint Black, Mark Wills and Aaron Tippin.

In 2017, Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers Band released Rodeo Cold Beer, which debuted at No. 7 on iTunes Country Albums Chart and earned the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Heatseekers Mountain chart.

Williams was a saddle bronc rider before he became a musician. He has performed on center stage at major rodeos, festivals and venues throughout the United States. His new album, 3rd Street, debuted at No. 5 on the iTunes Country Albums chart.

La exhibición de arte de Carbondale ‘Identidad y Libertad’ muestra las profundidades de la propia identidad.

Foto del mural en progreso en Stepping Stones en Carbondale, pintado por Armando Silva.

Las obras de arte tienen el poder de contar historias, y para las co-curadoras Vannessa Porras y Gayle Embrey su exhibición “Identidad y Libertad” narra las diferentes trayectorias en la búsqueda de uno mismo y la lucha por pertenecer como miembro de la comunidad latina.

“Estaba pensando en cómo dimos con el título de la exhibición y parte de eso fue … basado en la forma en que te ves, te perciben de cierta manera,” dijo Porras. “Poder tomar esa identidad de América Latina, México, de donde sea que vengas si vives en los E.U., como mantener esa identidad y aún integrarte en la cultura estadounidense y viceversa.”

Armando Silva es uno de los artistas que aparecen en la exhibición que se inauguró el viernes pasado y se le encargó un mural en el costado del edificio Stepping Stones en Carbondale.

“No tiendo a ser de los que dicen ‘Oye, soy mexicano,’ porque incluso entonces ¿qué significa eso? En cuanto a mí, pongo más atención a los datos, así que nací en México y vivo en los Estados Unidos. Pero me gustan las tortugas ninja, y eso es una parte tan importante de mi identidad como la tierra o el punto geográfico en el que nací,” dijo Silva.

Otros artistas que aparecen en “Identidad y Libertad” son Claudia Bernardi, Fanel Reyes, y José López. También hay dos murales creados a través del programa Walls of Hope, iniciado por Bernardi en el 2014, el cual brinda a los jóvenes inmigrantes encarcelados la oportunidad de expresarse a través del arte.

Instalación de arte “Gunna” de la muestra “Identidad y Libertad” por Fanel Reyes. Escultura de cerámica pulida a mano con piedra de cuarzo.

En una declaración de Bernardi, ella explicó cómo su trabajo inspira las pinturas que crea.

“Durante los últimos 15 años he colaborado con el Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense en investigaciones de violaciones a los derechos humanos. … Mi arte está profundamente influenciado por esas experiencias,” escribió Bernardi. “No solo en el aspecto narrativo de la pieza sino, más importante, en el ámbito conceptual de hallar imágenes mediante la búsqueda de capas de polvo de colores.”

Ortega, quien compartirá cómo su comprensión de la identidad se relaciona con su trabajo en las charlas de artistas del viernes, describió su arte como una forma de curvar el significado y deformar el tiempo en su lugar, con el objetivo final de aumentar la comprensión de la diversidad cultural.

“Como artista chicano, mi identidad, tradiciones culturales, y antecedentes geográficos son parte integral de mi arte,” escribió Ortega en su declaración para la exhibición. “Para muchos artistas y para mí mismo, estas experiencias, nuestra hibridez cultural, se convierten en la base de nuestras obras de arte. Abordar las distinciones entre los mundos que experimentamos o las formas en que los combinan para formar una nueva perspectiva de nuestra identidad.”

Silva dijo que el mural comunitario en Stepping Stones fue creado con la intención de hacer que el arte sea accesible y para la comunidad, no solo en la comunidad.

“Hay una cita de Diego Rivera que dice que un cuadro en una galería es para el proletariado y un mural es para el pueblo. … Eso tiene mucho peso, ¿cierto?” dijo Silva. “En última instancia, ¿Cómo se toma una pieza que está en la comunidad, hecha de la manera más intencional posible dentro del espacio en el que estará, para luego llevarla a una charla de arte, a una conversación, a una galería de arte de manera que informe, eduque y brinde acceso a ese trabajo?”

Embrey, que no es parte de la comunidad latina, dijo que se identifica con el trabajo pues creció en un hogar protestante en el que le dijeron que no era irlandesa porque su familia no era católica.

Obra de la exposición “Identidad y Libertad” de José Luis López. “Las Tías del Pueblo” Linograbado sobre papel de algodón.

“Puedo relacionarme desde ese punto de vista. Creo que es diferente por muchas razones … pero me identifico con él. Eso de la identidad es interesante. Tengo un sobrino que es gay y cómo se ve ese proceso para que él lo identifique, o tenga miedo de identificarse, o de la persecución que implica” dijo Embrey. “Creo que el programa tiene aplicaciones para mucha gente si simplemente lo aceptan.”

“Identidad y Libertad” se extenderá hasta el 25 de junio, y R2 Gallery recibirá visitantes de 10 a.m. a 2 p.m. incluyendo sábados. Embrey enfatizó que toda la información escrita en la galería estará tanto en inglés como en español, y que la galería se está moviendo en esa dirección para ser más inclusiva para sus visitantes.

“Ser capaz de definir quién eres y ser alguien multicultural, no creo que la conversación necesariamente se canalice hacia ‘esto es lo que es’ o ‘así es como se ve tu identidad. Significa algo distinto para cada persona,” dijo Porras.

Puedes comunicarte con la reportera Jessica Peterson al 970-279-3462 o jpeterson@postindependent.com.



‘Identidad y Libertad’ Carbondale art exhibit shows the depths of one’s identity

Photo of the in-progress mural at Stepping Stones in Carbondale painted by Armando Silva.

Pieces of art have the power to tell stories, and for co-curators Vannessa Porras and Gayle Embrey, their exhibit “Identidad y Libertad” narrates the different arc lines of finding yourself and struggling to belong as a member of the Latino community.

“I was thinking back to how (we) came upon the title for the show, and part of it was … based on the way that you look, you’re perceived a certain way,” Porras said. “Being able to take that identity from Latin America, Mexico, wherever you’re coming from if you’re living in the U.S., like maintaining that identity and still integrating into the American culture, and vice versa.”

The Carbondale First Friday celebration for June includes the opening of the exhibit, and artist talks beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Launchpad. Embrey and Porras will both share, followed by artists Tony Ortega and Armando Silva.

“Identidad y Libertad” in the R2 Gallery will remain open until 8:30 p.m. that evening, as well. Silva will unveil the mural he collaborated on with the students at Stepping Stones on the side of the building at 4 p.m. Friday before sharing at the artist talks.

“I tend to not be like, ‘Hey, I’m like Mexican,’ because even then it’s like, what does that mean? So for me I look more at data sort of stuff, so I was born in Mexico and I’m living in the United States. But I like ninja turtles, and that’s just as much of a part of my identity as what dirt or geography point I was born in,” Silva said.

The other artists featured in “Identidad y Libertad” are Claudia Bernardi, Fanel Reyes and José Lopez. There are also two murals created through the Walls of Hope program, which was started back in 2014 by Bernardi and gives incarcerated immigrant youth a chance to express themselves through art.

In an artist’s statement from Bernardi, she explained how her work inspires the paintings she creates.

Art installation "Gunna" from the "Identidad y Libertad" exhibit by Fanel Reyes. Ceramic sculpture hand-burnished with quartz stone.

“For the last 15 years I have collaborated with the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team in investigations of violations of human rights. … My artwork is profoundly influenced by these experiences,” Bernardi wrote. “Not only in the narrative aspect of the piece but, most importantly, in the conceptual realm of finding images through the searching of layers of colored dust.”

Ortega, who will be sharing how his understanding of identity plays into his work at Friday’s artist talks, described his art as a way to bend meaning and warp time in place, with the ultimate goal of increasing understanding of cultural diversity.

“As a Chicano artist, my identity, cultural traditions and geographic background are integral in my art,” Ortega wrote in his statement for the exhibit. “For numerous artists and myself, these experiences, our cultural hybridity, becomes a foundation in our artwork. Addressing the distinctions between the worlds we experience or ways that they combine them to form a new outlook of our identity.”

Silva said the community mural at Stepping Stones was created with the intention of making the art accessible, and for the community, not just in the community.

“There’s a quote by Diego Rivera that a painting in a gallery is for a proletariat and then a mural is for the people. … That also has a ton of weight to it, right?” Silva said. “Ultimately how do you take a piece that’s out in the community like this, done as intentionally as you can within the space that it’s gonna be in, but then bring it to an art talk, a conversation, an art gallery in a way that informs and educates, and brings access to that work.”

Embrey, who is not a part of the Latino community, said she identifies with the work from growing up in a Protestant household and being told she wasn’t Irish since her family wasn’t Catholic.

Artwork from the "Identidad y Libertad" exhibit by José Luis Lopez. “Las Tias del Pueblo" Linocut on cotton paper

“I can relate to it from that standpoint. I think it’s different for a lot of reasons … but I do relate to it. That identity thing is interesting. I have a nephew who is gay and what that process looked like for him to identify, or being afraid to identify, or the persecution that comes with it,” Embrey said. “I think the show has application to a lot of people if they will just take it in.”

“Identidad y Libertad” will run through June 25, and beginning this weekend the R2 Gallery will host visitors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, as well. Embrey emphasized that all written information in the gallery will be in both English and Spanish, and that the gallery is making the move in that direction to be more inclusive for its visitors.

“Being able to define who you are and being someone that’s multicultural, I don’t think that the conversation necessarily funnels into a ‘this is what it is’ or ‘this is what your identity looks like;’ it means something different for every single person,” Porras said.

Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or jpeterson@postindependent.com.

Carbondale agritourism ventures strengthen understanding of farming and ranching lifestyles, provide a first-hand perspective

Merrill and Pam Johnson hang out with the alpacas in the pasture at Cedar Ridge Ranch near Carbondale.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The first thing you notice is the resounding quiet. Driving a ways up the bendy road from Colorado Highway 82, visiting Cedar Ridge Ranch is like entering a different world — one where you’re just as likely to make eye contact with an alpaca or rooster as you are with another human being.

“We have alpaca hats that come straight from the alpacas,” Pam Johnson, co-owner of Cedar Ridge Ranch said. “So you can go out and kiss the alpacas and then get a hat, and learn about the alpaca.”

Three alpacas look towards the camera for a glamour shot at Cedar Ridge Ranch.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The Johnson family — parents Randy and Pam and their only daughter, Merrill — moved from the hustle and bustle of the Chicagoland area over 20 years ago onto Cedar Ridge Ranch and began offering an educational, boutique ranching experience to those who came out to visit. Randy said they’ve had visitors come from not just Denver, but Saudi Arabia, Germany and Portugal, as well.

“It’s really interesting the kinds of people that we do meet here,” (Randy) Johnson, a Vietnam-era veteran and former salesman, said. “And some of the kids go, ‘Mom, the eggs aren’t white!’ you know?”

Garfield County passed an agritourism proposal back in 2013, which enabled the Johnsons to offer even more to their guests. Now, instead of just giving farm tours, horseback riding lessons, alpaca yoga and allowing visitors to collect eggs from the hens on the property, people can spend the night on the ranch in one of the various hospitality setups on the ranch property.

Pam Johnson collects eggs from the chicken coop at Cedar Ridge Ranch.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“I think agritourism too has this really strong capacity and opportunity to help farmers, because farming is not easy work, and it’s 24/7. … They’re just undervalued,” Merrill Johnson said. “I think agritourism opens up a place where farmers can be valued and seen more than they are today. Agritourism in general allows for the opportunity for other farmers to do something very, very similar and to be able to share what they do so other people can back or support them.”

Morgan Beidlemen was a recent agritourist to the Cedar Ridge Ranch and said she stumbled upon them by Googling ‘glamping in Colorado.’ She said the Johnson’s ranch was a perfect balance of far enough from Denver but still close to other nearby towns, so without an isolating feeling.

“I love horses and I love cows, just kind of walking around and saying ‘hi’ to them. And the alpacas were so curious; I just loved how curious they were,” Beidlemen said. “Being able to get eggs from the chickens and go back down to the yurt and cook eggs you just purchased … having that complete break from work … and (an) immersive experience of being on the ranch and all that it has to offer. … That was really what I was looking for.”

A pair of roosters sit on a doorway at Cedar Ridge Ranch.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

She also spoke to the Johnson family’s hospitality and openness to educate folks who had questions about the lifestyle and the workings of the ranch itself.

“Their willingness, you know, to talk about things … talking about having a totally different life before. … Human connection, connection to nature, disconnection from technology and just beautiful (scenery).”

Sarah-Jane Johnson, a tourism project manager for Carbondale Tourism, said Garfield County is rich with opportunities for Agritourism, and Carbondale specifically has a long history of farming. Carbondale tourism recently launched a Farm + Food map highlighting local farms with Agritourism opportunities and restaurants that specialize in farm-to-table menu options.

Pam Johnson hangs out with the goats near the barn at Cedar Ridge Ranch.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“I love the fact that this is a visitor education tool, but I think our local community will connect with it as well and use it perhaps,” Johnson said. “You can learn about history and you can enjoy a cocktail and then you can enjoy a lovely meal. There’s just so many different layers to connect with the destination through agritourism.”

Lucy Perutz is the co-owner and chef at The Beat restaurant in Carbondale, which started as an entirely vegetarian eatery but shifted its business model during COVID-19 to accommodate local farmers who were experiencing a produce surplus and individuals who were hesitant to visit grocery stores at the beginning of the pandemic.

“We were like, ‘well, let’s translate our business to something that makes sense for the moment,’ and that turned into an online order-ahead grocery store that specialized in local foods and your staple and bulk items, too,” Perutz said. “… We had meats and some dairy, which we’ve never served meats before, but we found it kind of important to keep the farmers going … to support the entire model of local food.”

Merrill Johnson feeds an alpaca at Cedar Ridge Ranch.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The restaurant is now in a transition phase from being a grocer back into being an eatery, but Perutz said their focus will now prioritize locally grown crops on the menu, instead of being sure to offer staple dishes guests had come to enjoy but may require produce out of season to Colorado or from farther away.

“I think what we realized is really exciting is we’re gonna make awesome food and are going to provide good, quality tasty stuff that’s going to change a lot more often now because that’s just what we want to do,” Perutz said. “We want to better support the farms and if they can tell us they have a surplus of this one particular item, that’s going on the menu.”


Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or jpeterson@postindependent.com.

La radio representativa llega a Carbondale: Estación de Colorado Public Radio enfocada en artistas locales comienza a transmitir en Roaring Fork

Michael Trent y Cary Ann Hearst, de Shovels and Rope, en el estudio de actuación de Indie 102.3 el martes 22 de octubre del 2019.

La estación Indie 102.3 FM de Colorado Public Radio comenzó a transmitir en vivo el 26 de mayo para los oyentes del valle de Roaring Fork. Ahora, ya sea que estés conduciendo al trabajo o simplemente quieras escuchar nuevos artistas locales de Colorado, puedes sintonizar la estación 96.7 FM de Carbondale, que transmitirá programas que antes eran exclusivos para el Front Range.

El director del programa, Will Carlan, dijo que el objetivo principal de Indie 102.3 es brindar a los artistas locales una plataforma para compartir su trabajo.

“Somos el miembro más joven de la familia. … La marca de Indie 102.3 tiene poco más de dos años,” dijo Carlan.

Cuando preparan los grupos de música que van a transmitir, Carlan dijo que él y su equipo son conscientes de las identidades de las bandas y artistas que están presentando. Intentan ser lo más representativos posible cuando comparten su plataforma con músicos locales.

“Tratamos de incluirlo todo. Creemos que nuestra mezcla de música es la mejor del estado. Como dije, nos dedicamos a la misión de presentar artistas y músicos de Colorado,” dijo Carlan. “Una de nuestras misiones es ofrecer diversidad e inclusión a artistas que podrían estar marginados. Sabes que no los presentarán en muchas estaciones de radio. Muchas otras estaciones de radio no prestan atención a la igualdad racial y de género. Realmente pensamos mucho en la mezcla de música que tocamos aquí.”

La estación operaba previamente bajo Colorado Public Radio como OpenAir, y aunque el estilo de la estación se alteró drásticamente con el cambio de marca, Carlan dijo que tienen oyentes de aquella época que continúan sintonizándolos.

“La estación solía llamarse OpenAir. Tenía un formato muy diferente. … Cambiamos la marca a Indie 102.3 hará dos años en julio. … Hay oyentes de toda la vida que han estado escuchando la frecuencia 102.3 de Colorado que se han quedado con nosotros durante el cambio de marca y demás cambios. Parece que les encanta lo que hemos estado haciendo,” dijo Carlan.

La presentadora Alisha Sweeney en vivo desde Red Rocks con el baterista de Interpol, Sam Fogarino.

La Subdirectora del Programa para la estacion, Bruce Trujillo, dijo que ella creció en Glenwood Springs y está emocionada de unirse al público y a las estaciones comunitarias que ya están presentes en el valle de Roaring Fork. También dijo que espera que su estación sirva como conducto para que más residentes del Western Slope descubran nueva música.

“(Tocamos) al menos un artista de Colorado cada hora todos los días. Y eso es de todo Colorado. Obviamente hay un gran enfoque en las bandas de Denver, pero también tocamos bandas de todo el Front Range y siempre estamos buscando bandas del Western Slope para apoyarlas,” dijo Trujillo.

Especial, uno de los muchos programas de 102.3 FM, es presentado por Trujillo los miércoles por la noche a las 10 p.m. y domingos por la noche a las 6 p.m. Dijo que además de tocar música nueva, ella busca abarcar todo tipo de géneros de personas de ascendencia latinoamericana.

“Existe esta concepción de que el indie está dominado por hombres blancos, pero ese no es el caso. Soy muy partidaria de asegurarnos de que estamos tocando tantas bandas femeninas como sea posible, tantas negras, autóctonas y otras personas de color como sea posible,” dijo Trujillo.

Algunas de las bandas que los oyentes pueden esperar escuchar si se sintonizan a Especial son Chicano Batman, Y La Bamba, Helado Negro, y actos locales como Los Mocochetes (que han actuado en Basalt y Aspen), Pink Hawks y Lolita. Si bien gran parte del programa es en español, Trujillo dijo que ella habla spanglish durante el programa, y que cualquiera puede escuchar y encontrar algo que le guste.

“Hay algo para todos y tenemos algunas canciones en español que están en rotación regular. Lo que es muy emocionante. Es realmente una invitación a descubrir y aprender más sobre lo que está sucediendo en nuestras comunidades y más allá.

La presentadora Bruce Trujillo tras el micrófono.

Esta música es muy buena, simplemente que se canta en español,” dijo Trujillo.

Para los músicos y bandas interesados en aparecer en 102.3 FM, Trujillo y Carlan dijeron que es un proceso de aplicación simple que se puede realizar en su sitio web. Carlan dijo que está listo para expandir su base de oyentes y que espera ansioso la respuesta que obtendrán en el valle de Roaring Fork.

“Espero que la gente de Roaring Fork nos acoja como lo han hecho aquí en Denver,” afirmó Carlan.

Reminders en el estudio de Indie 102.3 tocando en vivo.

Puedes comunicarte con la reportera Jessica Peterson al 970-279-3462 o jpeterson@postindependent.com.


One family makes the most of their inaugural trip to Glenwood Springs

Carrie and Joseph Haderlie enjoy their ride up the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park gondola earlier this spring. Along with husband Nick, daughters Esther and Elizabeth and golden retriever Rusty, the Haderlies chose Glenwood Springs for their first vacation since the pandemic began.
Nick Haderlie

In 2020, my little family stayed home.

We live in rural southeastern Wyoming, and by spring break 2021, we were ready to travel again, thanks to COVID-19 vaccines and what seemed to be a downward trend in regional infections. With an 8-year-old daughter, a 6-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter, we weren’t ready to brave an airport, but wanted to visit a place that offered plenty of fun activities for children — and within driving distance of home.

Glenwood Springs was perfect, and we began planning a two-night stay at The Hotel Glenwood Springs.

We arrived in town on a chilly spring evening in time to reserve a spot in the hotel waterpark pool for our three kids. We changed quickly, and for the first time in a year, my kids splashed happily in a waterpark, enjoying both the toddler-sized slide and the indoor waterslide for our older two children. Once tired, we put them to bed in our ground-level, pet-friendly room with a bunk bed for the kids.

The next morning, I got up before my family to do what has become one of my favorite vacation traditions: Explore the area on my own, on foot, in the early morning. With our golden retriever at my side, I took the footbridge to Two Rivers Park at the confluence of the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers and ran 3 miles along the Glenwood Springs River Trail.

The Haderlies brought their golden retriever, Rusty, along with them for their first visit to Glenwood Springs. Photo courtesy of Carrie Haderlie

It was early enough that I caught the first glimpse of sunlight inching into the canyon, and a few hardy anglers were wade-fishing in the Roaring Fork despite the lingering chill of winter. I catalogued a couple of nice playgrounds for future use, and turned back in time to see sunlight sparkling on the gondola windows leading up to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, knowing I’d be on one of the little orange trams with my family later that day.

After gathering my family from the hotel, we walked to the Adventure Park entrance, where we opted for four Funday passes, including admission on the Glenwood Gondola, a possibility for two walking cave tours and unlimited rides on the attractions at the top. Our children were too short for many of the rides, but the older two were able to do the Haunted Mine Drop with their dad. They returned from the ride stunned and a little shaken from the 150 mph drop down a simulated mine shaft. While the more adventurous of my family tried the Mine Drop, my 2-year-old and I waited in a short line for the King’s Row Cave Tour, which at the time was limited to 25 people with face coverings due to COVID-19.

Inside the cave, we traveled 150 feet down from the surface into the cave’s passages to the King’s Row, a spot our tour guide told us is the most highly decorated cave room in Colorado, featuring stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws and “cave bacon.” He also mentioned a cave monster, but my son, after only a moment’s pause, assured me the guide was only joking.

Once back above ground, we took turns taking the children to various rides and activities. My daughters and I took another ride on the gondola — our 2-year-old’s choice — while the boys rode the Alpine Coaster twice. It was our luck (or misfortune, depending on your fear of heights), to get stuck above the Alpine Coaster for nearly 15 minutes due to wind, but I was happy to see our boys speed by in a little car on the track dozens of feet below us.

Nick Haderlie and his son Joseph ride the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park alpine coaster earlier this spring. The park has since lifted the mask requirement for visitors. Photo courtesy of Nick Haderlie

My husband and I then switched children, and I took our son and younger daughter, who was too small for the coaster, to a short 4D show at the Adventure Park’s theater. Our older daughter took the Alpine Coaster with her dad, and they claimed to go even faster than the boys. We ended our day in the small laser tag studio, which was a welcome change from the colder activities outside — and one all five of us could do together. We stopped at the gift shop on the way down, and opted for the locally made coconut and peanut butter fudge for the gondola ride down to our hotel.

After another hour at the pool, we decided to venture downtown for dinner, where we found loads of family-friendly options. Feeling adventurous, we took the kids to Kedai Pho & Japanese Cuisine. The kids tried calamari, edamame, octopus, eel and filled up on two plates of fried rice with vegetables and udon noodles and chicken, which we split between all three kids. I was happy with my vegetable and tofu pho, and grateful for a wonderful day out with my family after a year full of unknowns and no travel at all.

As we left Glenwood Springs for home the next day, we all held our breath through the 4,000-foot Hanging Lake Tunnel on I-70, hoping for good luck and wishing to return to our new-found vacation spot before too long.

Carrie Haderlie is a freelance writer based in Wyoming who writes for several local and regional publications. She lives between Saratoga and Encampment, Wyoming, with her husband, three children and golden retriever.