Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts’ outgoing program director hopes small things can lead to changes
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – When he was younger, Lou Iglesias had grand ideas of being rich and powerful. Who doesn’t? That’s how you affect people, he used to think.But not anymore.As he put it, “Maybe it’s in the small things.”For the last two years, that’s how he’s made a difference at the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts. Though his exact title has been “program director,” Iglesias, 36, has done a little bit of everything. He’s gotten to whatever director Gayle Mortell couldn’t and filled in for her when she was away. He’s updated the posters, catalogues and such, and tried to make them sleeker, easier to understand. He’s helped in sending out press releases and getting the nonprofit more exposure in the community. To most who know and love the center, however, he’s just been Lou – the smiling, friendly, supportive guy in the pageboy cap and glasses. He’s the one who’s always been raring to encourage people to take a risk, join a class, express themselves.
He’ll sure be missed, too.On Friday, Iglesias will leaving the center. Soon, he’ll be working in Gypsum, the same town where he lives with his wife, Kim. He didn’t want to go into details about his future, and he’s not sure where it will take him, anyway. He just knows it’s time to go.”I think I’ve done what I can do at the art center,” he said. “I just sort of think it’s my time to move on.”He definitely looks back on the center fondly, though. Part of his job has been inspiring people of all ages to explore their arty side. The center’s youngest members inspired him right back, as well.”When you see the kids – the little 3- and 4-year-olds – dancing just because they love it and they want to be this little princess, and they’re doing it for no other reason, to me, that’s the life of this place,” he explained.Whenever some shy, little guy or gal would came into the center, Iglesias has always been quick to give them some positive energy. He understands their discomfort, as well as their potential. After all, he was one of them only 30 years ago.”I was so skinny. I was so small. I was introverted,” he said. “The one thing I did have was drawing.”Growing up in Fort Worth and San Antonio, Texas, he was one of four children. His family didn’t have much money, but his father always made sure to bring him home all kinds of books, based in nature and zoology. Even before he could read, Iglesias was tearing through the pages and drawing animal after animal in charcoal on big pads of paper. As he got older, he wanted to play football but couldn’t because of his asthma. He took up break-dancing instead. He was still his skinny self, but other kids didn’t mess with him. They were impressed by his skills.
That’s the difference the arts can make. Of course he’s tried to share that with all those youngsters who remind him of himself.”I’m right away drawn to those kind of kids,” he said, “because, I don’t know, they’re not exactly comfortable in their own skin. I want them to feel really welcome and say, ‘Hey, dude, it’s really cool here. Don’t worry about it, and you’re not going to be made fun of, and have a good time.'”As it turns out, a lot of people need to hear that. Anyone who’s been coaxed into taking a class at the center or showing work in its annual community art show, knows how encouraging (and persuasive) Iglesias can be. To him, getting locals involved in the center is the real heart of it. Maybe the place isn’t as much about prepping dancers for Juilliard, he proposed, as it as about getting people out of their everyday routine and into creativity. If there’s something artistic you’ve always wanted to do but never tried, he thinks this is the place to take the leap.He certainly knows what’s it’s like to want to jump into something new.For him, leaving the center is all about increasing his quality of life. He won’t be stressing about a commute or the complex inner workings of a nonprofit anymore. These days, though, he still draws and once even illustrated and wrote a few unpublished children’s books, but he’s also unworried about “making it” as some famous artist. He’s got a bigger, simpler vision for himself. He wants to go through life positively affecting those around him. Even if it’s just giving someone a sincere compliment or calling a grocery store clerk by her name, he wants to make that effort. These things might seem subtle, but who knows how much they might matter?”If I can help somebody along the way just in a little something I say or a word of encouragement, you know, that might make their day,” he said. “I think that’s maybe where I find my happiness.”That’s the kind of joy that trumps a job title.Contact Stina Sieg: email@example.com
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Oregon’s Laurenne Ross and New Castle’s Alice McKennis Duran both announced their retirement in recent days and celebrated together during Saturday’s downhill. McKennis Duran is a local namesake who grew up skiing at Sunlight in Glenwood and formerly trained with the AVSC.