When Josh Levy was studying music and art at the California Institute of the Arts and the Art Institute of Chicago, he noticed that his creativity and focus heightened when he worked around other people. Years later, while teaching at a summer arts school for children in New Jersey, he noticed the way his young pupils would often spontaneously make art and music when they all came together in the same room. Those experiences made him think: While Denver is a city with a lot of art and music studios for professionals, there are no informal, public places where different people can come together to help each other create. "I don't think Denver has enough studio spaces for your average Denverite," he says. "You really have to be a full-on artist to commit yourself to a space, and I think that's a horrible pressure. Space should be available to everyone."
Tonight Levy opens Workspace 38, 3810 Pecos Street, a warehouse space in Northwest Denver where folks can come to create whatever moves them. The space will provide materials for woodworking, painting and sculpture along with a full recording studio for musicians. And for now, Levy's only asking for a donation at the door. But tonight, everything's free at the grand-opening celebration, which starts at 5:30 p.m. and features artwork by Levy and Sandra Manley, and music by Danny Womack as Antenna 10.
Workspace 38's large common area will evolve and reflect whatever's going on at any moment: It can be a school, a gallery, a sculpture garden. The idea, Levy says, is to encourage community as a catalyst for individual expression. "I always found dialogue and the sharing of skills and knowledge to be really beneficial," Levy says, "because you really do need a helping hand sometimes, especially when you're working on larger works and stuff. Here people can really let go and focus."
The 2003 pairing of the Larimer Arts Association and Denver Public Schools for Project LEAD (short for Larimer presents Emerging Artists of Denver) yielded an award for Best Educational Program from the International Festivals and Events Association. The acclaimed project offered middle-school students the opportunity to transform park benches into works of art and then display them in public places. The only problem was that nobody saw them.
"We had a few in the Capitol building," says Larimer Arts executive director Joe Lauer. "But people walked by those things with blinders on."
So this year they decided to take it to the streets. Starting today, a few of the benches will be on display between 38th and 44th avenues along Tennyson Street as part of a First Friday art walk. Artist Michael Rieger, who helped the students design the unique benches based on the theme of "communication," will host a reception from 6 to 10 p.m. at his place, Lapis Gallery, 3971 Tennyson Street.
"Middle schools receive the least amount of DPS funding for the arts," Lauer says. "This project is about letting kids know how important art is and building their self-esteem. The more people who come out and see the benches, the easier that becomes."
The benches will be on display through February 16. After that, they'll embark on a four-month trek through prominent Denver spots. For more information, call 303-685-8143 or visit www.larimerarts.org. -- Adam Cayton-Holland
Rock on Paper
If you thought the rock poster was just some lowly flier to be stuck in dingy bathroom stalls, think again. Local uber-artist Lindsay Kuhn and Westword's own art director, Jay Vollmar, will be signing copies of Art of Modern Rock today from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Virgin Megastore in the Denver Pavilions. The tome features their cutting-edge rock posters along with others created by the best designers in the world. "Lindsay is a very important historical figure in terms of the modern rock poster. He is one of two seminal artists in the silkscreen-poster movement," says Art co-author Dennis King. "Jay is a relative newcomer, but he has such an interesting and distinctive style. When I saw some of his posters, I said, 'I have to have these.' Not just have it for the book, but have it for my own collection." It's time they came out of the stall. -- Amy Haimerl
My Slutty Valentine
Lap dances for everyone!
"It's not just this slutty, sleazy thing," exotic-dance instructor Brandy Dew says of lap dancing. "It's all about passion and empowering yourself and your relationship. It's a really cool Valentine's gift. Imagine what a shock for your boyfriend to come home and find you in a sexy outfit, ready to dance for him."
Dew will offer pointers today during her lap-dance workshop at Flashdance Studios, 155 Alter Street in Broomfield, where she normally teaches the G-String Diva workout, a class that draws crowds of wanna-be Shotgun girls and others just looking for a kinkier cardio workout.
And don't worry if your sexiest moves are more twitchy than titillating. Says Flashdance owner Dana Currence: "We think anyone can be taught to walk in a sexy way, move their hips and glom all over their lover."