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First Friday in Carbondale: The inspiration of art

Stina SiegPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent
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CARBONDALE, Colorado I know theres something special about First Fridays. Nearly every time I enter that evening of art, people, wine and munchies, Im grateful. Between the gallery openings and open houses, theres this electricity in the air, and I can see it and feel it and hear it.But describing it is another matter.Last month, as I gussied up for a night of Carbondale craziness, I thought, why not give it a real shot?Perhaps other folks could put exact words to it.Notepad under my arm, I started my night at the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities. As always, it was choked with people. It was hosting a joint show of paintings, collages and sculptures by Kathy Honea, Ginny Beasely and Marina Romanov. People were coming up to the ladies, hugging them and loading them with praise. The place was beyond crowded, but the atmosphere was still inviting.Perhaps all that free cheese, crackers and soda did the trick.This is so part of the community. It makes such a difference, said Romanov, taking a moment away from everyone. Its really nice.Outside the crush, painter Terry Fontaine was hanging out. A Carbondale resident for nine years, he comes out to First Friday whenever hes in town. I asked him why.Going to see any art inspires you to create art, he said. You see somebodys creating something, so it makes you want to do it yourself.In his opinion, this is one of the best things Carbondale has going for it.A moment later, I was a few doors down the street at Majid Kahhaks gallery. It smelled strongly of oil paint, and it looked like Kahhak was holding court. A small crowd watched as he slapped thick blocks of color onto a canvas. He was describing his artistic process in words that were just as abstract and free as the bright fall scene as he was painting. People kept complimenting him and nodding with an air of understanding.That personal interaction is so important and rare, he explained to me, after some of his crowd had dispersed.

It is special, really, he said. Here people are willing to share and be part of the process. I think it has to do with the fabric of this community.That night, I think I knew just what he meant. As I continued my walk, I felt included in something bigger than myself. Each open venue I passed had its own distinct reality. At Main Street Gallery, I saw Mary Noone surrounded by her loose, colorful landscapes and tons of congratulatory fans. At the Carbondale Clay Center, there were giant clay vessels and rough little pots. Artists Ralph Scala and Susan Muenchen were happy to discuss them both. At the Studio for Arts + Works, Angus Graham, one of four ceramists on display, was sitting behind his army of wheel-thrown cups. Only a three-month resident of the town, he already felt embraced by it. Thats so important, he explained, because his work is so personal. Art is sharing himself and in Carbondale he feels encouraged to.He pointed over at his wheel and smiled wide.I try to live in that seat as much as possible, he said. I tell people thats my favorite place to be.I remember smiling back. I like his kind of sentiment. In fact, everywhere I went, I was drawn into the artists stories. I fed off their enthusiasm. While I might not have fallen in love with each sculpture or painting or pot I saw, I was delighted by the fact that someone had taken the time to create it. The air was heady with excitement and inspiration, and part of me had lofty ideas of going home and drawing myself. But I also wanted to talk to at least one more person, someone who could voice that sweet sense I had all around me.Luckily, Oni Butterfly was riding up Main Street on her bike. Though not an artist herself, she tries to make it out to every First Friday she can. I love supporting new artists, she said.In her eyes, Carbondale is all about the community, the intellectuals, the different cultures. These Friday night flings are when she gets to revel in that.Its just a feel-good town, she said.And it was as though she was reading my mind.Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111ssieg@postindependent.com


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