#3: Alexis Cooley
When Alexis Cooley isn’t working as the executive producer and director of the Boulder International Fringe Festival (which some think might be never), she’s a one-woman production company, keeping busy as “an artist, a performer, a director, a creator, a producer, a traveler, an adventurer, an entrepreneur, a history buff, a self-proclaimed ‘nerdy-geek,’ a designer and a bit of a giggle-puss,” she says. Because we need more people like Cooley making magical things happen in the world, we asked her to tackle the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Alexis Cooley: Boudicca of the Iceni, because that dame was amazing! She stood up for what she believed in, what was right for her people, and she knew the end would be death…but she strode into battle and made a difference for her followers with that knowledge resting on her shoulders. She was brave and bold and unafraid, and that is so rare in any time, let alone in ancient Britain. I strive to be like Boudicca, albeit with less blood (seriously, that dame knew how to destroy a Roman city) and far more art – but the fire is the same!
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Amanda Palmer (musician, artist, performer, advocate, mother), for her dedication to the art and power of the greater community. She is so tremendous, present and connected to her ever-growing tribe while remaining true to her independent artistry. I work to be as bold and daring in creation as she while focusing on maintaining such an open heart!
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
Precious things, soft and palatable things. Like typography prints of A.A. Milne quotes, or one-person shows about “my experience as a ________,” or chalkboard art that is static and “perfect,” or shabby-chic throw pillows with frilly lacy bits – “art” with no daring, no gusto, no fire.
What's your day job?
Wild Imaginarium is my day job — a smart little design and events house I run! I have spent years as a props, costume and production designer, as well as working as a producer, events planner and educator, and now all of the skills that make up me are under one virtual roof. Clients can request to see my colorful world, view lesson ideas and plans, begin creating special events, request custom pieces, visit work on special projects, view my Etsy shop and follow my blog.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
Simple: I would build an independent arts center. I have always wanted to run a space that could be used for productions, classes, exhibitions, workshops, as well as design and building – but at the same time be truly affordable for artists and companies to work and create in. I have been thinking about this possibility since forever and have always been passionate about making sure independent artists have space to create their work – no matter what work that may be!
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Engage! Get in and get your hands dirty! Support and build and create and delight and take risks in the power of art! Art is not a luxury, it is a necessity, and I feel that many are looking past the original, the daring and the independent and allowing others to tell them what is good and safe. Don’t be sheep when it comes to art — be brave-ass wolves!
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
This one is tough! I equate “favorite” with people I desperately want to work with in creating something fabulous. To that effect, my “partner in Fringe,” Liberty Shellman, is using art to give voice to the struggle, and that is so very timely and necessary. I secretly hope to work with Emily K. Harrison and square product theatre kinda all the time! (I love what they do and how they do it!) However, my favorite of my favorites creating in Colorado is my partner, Tobias Mullen. He is a playwright, storyteller, performer and mathematician. Oh, how I look forward to working on something new and daring and difficult and great with him!
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
1. Addressing the venue crisis in Boulder (and Colorado) by creating and implementing the Venue in a Box project with the Boulder Fringe. This project is facilitating the creation of unusual performance spaces and allowing independent artists and venues the resources (materials, technical support, staffing, etc.) to put up art wherever they see fit.
2. Creating a stronger presence for the Boulder Fringe by producing and co-producing new and original works, exciting educational programs (the Boulder Fringe Adventurer’s League) for young artists and adventurers, hosting fun and fabulous monthly events (Hullabaloo!) and creating tremendous workshops (the Learning Fringe) throughout the Front Range and beyond…as well as producing another amazing Boulder International Fringe Festival next August.
3. Creating some new and original work of my own. This is constant and varied (accessories, costume/cosplay pieces, event plans, The Diana Project, and the like)! However, I am pleased to say that I am working through the beginnings of a new script and production that I am very excited about!
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Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2015?
I think that the talented storytellers at Stories With Spirit are the ones to watch: Their melding of traditional storytelling, talented story craft and wonderful performance skills are magnificent. While attending their performances and storytelling events, you may be simultaneously laughing, crying and a little fearful of your walk home in the dark. As they say, fairytales are too important to leave only to children!
I am also thrilled to see what the world will make of the powerful music of the band Gang Forward when their EP comes out. Their sound is so full, so lush, their music so intense, so mesmerizing. I cannot hear enough of their stuff, and each song has a way of challenging me to create with more fire! I love these guys!