#21: Becky Hensley
Becky Hensley’s motto is “You don’t know what you know until you teach it,” and as founder of Share Denver, a 1,600 square-foot, community-run Park Hill school and incubator for crafters and makers of all sorts that she calls an “eclectic Home Ec,” she lives it every day. Share Denver’s instructors are everyday people with skills to share, from knitting to the fine art of brewing Kombucha, carrying on new and old traditions in an updated version of the quilting bee or a quirky stitch-and-bitch. How does she do it? We asked Hensley to weigh in on the contemporary-craft DIY movement by answering the 100CC questionnaire.
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Lynda Barry. Ugh, that lady is so inspiring to me. I saw her speak at RMCAD recently, and I started crying. She spoke about fear surrounding art, and it was such an important topic for me. I’m not sure I remember when I stopped making art, but at some point people stop. If you don’t, gosh, you’re so lucky. But once you stop, you progressively feel so distant from it that is scares you when you have to engage it. Lynda mentioned people getting physically ill, running out of the room and crying when asked to draw a car or Batman. I hear a lot of self-deprecating remarks from people in regards to learning a new craft. “I’m not good at that.” “I’m not crafty.” But digging in and learning something will surprise you if you’re willing to be surprised. So, really, I’m not sure how we’d collaborate. Maybe we’d make stuff together and gradually come up with something. But I’m pretty sure we’d have the best time ever. Also, if Lynda wasn’t available…all the creative women of my family long since passed. I think I’d have a good deal to learn from their resourcefulness and talent.
Westword: Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Becky Hensley: Christian Rex Van Minnen — I saw his show at the Robischon Gallery recently, after following him on Instagram forever, and was just blown away by his ability to render the grotesque in such a beautiful, classic way. He’s just a master; that’s all there is to it.
I’m crazy about Lesley Arfin right now. She’s an author, has written for Girls and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and is now doing a show for Netflix called Love.
Pete Holmes, the comedian, who has a brilliant podcast called You Made It Weird, which gets profoundly spiritual and philosophical. Plus he’s from Boston, so he’s really loud and has a great laugh.
Ellen Lindner! She puts together a comic with all female cartoonist contributors from the U.S. and U.K. called The Strumpet. It’s just amazing! She’s amazing!
There’s so much more, but I’ll keep it to those four.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
Honestly, I hate what bloggers have done to art. (And kind of everything — sorry, bloggers!) Don’t get me wrong: I read blogs, but everything is so homogenized and palatable. If a notable blogger endorses some inspirational watercolor print or posts a photo of Baby’s Breath on a wooden table, it informs a larger aesthetic. I miss gritty art, scary art. I like lumpy things. And I’m not seeing it anywhere. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places. Anyway, I don’t want bloggers to die…I just want them to have better taste.
What's your day job?
Share Denver! Crazy, huh? It’s hard as hell and scary a lot. But I also can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I don’t want to do anything else.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
Grow Share Denver’s community — continue to create a space of inclusivity by fostering teachers and learners. I mean, I have a space right now that does that, but being financially free allows for a different kind of investment in the mission of Share Denver, to just balls-out be able to support and encourage risk-taking, brainstorming, exploration and the sharing of those things — phew! It’d be a revelation!
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
The crazy part is, Denver does so much. I heard some statistic about Denver’s investment in art recently, comparing it to other cities, and it really surprised and delighted me. However, I think Denver is becoming a city, much like any other, that can make art a priority, but is that ultimately helping artists? I know so many creative people struggling to build a legitimate business of their art or craft in this city — a city not focused on creating a conducive environment for creatives.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Gosh! There are so many! I couldn’t ever pick just one! So I’ll just pick a nebulous group — all the Share Denver teachers. They’re all so inspiring, creative, smart and hilarious. You should meet them! I’ll introduce you!
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
Growth, but not in the traditional sense. I don’t want to take up more space — expansion, in that sense, isn’t interesting to me. Share Denver has a pretty strong foundation, and I want to focus on that core: to build more and better relationships and connect with the community, to cultivate more and better from teachers and their abilities, to support and strengthen what already makes us strong is so important to me.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2015?
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Good question! Who knows? Art is a fickle thing and so subjective.Hopefully, someone who isn’t opposed to lumpy things!
Learn more about Becky Hensley and Share Denver programs online.