#38: Colin Ward
Colin Ward lives to create, juggling disciplines with grace at Rhinoceropolis, one of Denver's most successful DIY arts spaces (it celebrates its tenth anniversary this year). No prima donna, the musician, producer, composer, performer, percussionist, painter, video artist, curator and events designer seeks to bring talented people together in creative community through multi-arts spectacles and special projects. How does he do it? Keep reading to learn more about Colin Ward, via his 100CC questionnaire.
See also: Fantasia at Rhinoceropolis
Westword:If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Colin Ward: Well, I've already collaborated with many magic people close to me, you know who you are, but as far as living and dead fantasy "celebrity collaborators" go, I definitely have a cocktail of a list which in no way includes everyone. At least these people represent those energies I chase: Bjork, Eric Andre, Danny Brown, Dan Deacon, Harmony Korine, The Boredoms, Nam Jun Paik, Suicide (the band), Jacque Fresco and Tokujin Yoshioka.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Edward Snowden, for obvious reasons. We need to keep chipping away at the control program we are all living under. Also, I recently just finished Trance Formation of America by Cathy O'Brien. It's a complete and detailed real-life testimony from a woman who was sold as an infant into the Project MKUltra mind-control program run essentially by the White House. She was "rescued" by a former member of the CIA in her adult life before being "removed," and after a few years her mind was brought to a state of "normalcy" to where she could share her life story. She exposes the true nature and objectives of many head politicians over the last thirty years -- specifically Dick Cheney, Bush Sr., Clinton, Ford and the people around them -- in this book.
Also, Tokujin Yoshioka: He is a Japanese artist and curator whose installation work incorporates the growing of crystals. He creates crystal paintings and environments. He is also an architect and incorporates these ideas into his work as a designer for museums and buildings.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
It's not a recent trend, but I've definitely thought about what I will write next a lot, as well as made my voice heard to "them." Something's gone on way too long -- haha -- with abundant resources and without transformation. I think I can safely say that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts as an institution represents the current way the United States generally views and funds what theatrical or symphonic/orchestral performance should represent. I understand there are many institutions pushing art forward while upholding "tradition," but I'd like to speak on what I see in my city at least. My intuition is that there are parallels to this "big-money arts buildings" situation across the globe.
I'm sick of over-funded performing arts centers staying satisfied by presenting a "Netflix instant" brand of theater and symphony that panders toward rich suburban white people and their kids. I don't think the world needs to see A Christmas Carol again and again. As much as I respect Mozart, how many times does the Magic Flute need to be performed? Yes, there are classic pieces of art and music that I think should stand the test of time, but there seems to be no evolution as far as the program goes.
It could be that they just don't know what is actually available to them in terms of arts evolution. They have a giant parking garage and huge auditoriums smack in the middle of the inner-city, which could serve as studio spaces for the artists of Denver who are interested in new music, theater, architecture, etc. It seems like the only opportunities the largest performing arts building gives to the youth of the city is the Shakespeare Festival, or bluegrass festivals, or symphonies and operas by composers who have been dead for more than 200 years or more.
Why can't we integrate the funds, teams, and creativities of the actual culture of Denver into these huge spaces? Why can't we have new jurassic animatronic orchestras lighting up the whole bird-sanctuary angelic crystal palace-looking architecture? It's directly across the street from a three-college campus, in the middle of downtown, yet it continues to feel isolated, elite and only invites a certain upper middle-class suburban, mostly caucasian audience off of the light rail.
I know that money is the answer. The trend I would like to see die is the "quick-buck." There's much more gold (lucrative and creative) to go around if the entire culture feels invited into the "institution." Everyone feels like they have to fend for themselves in a way. With that said, Ivar Zeile has done an amazing thing of running a program of local video artists on the Denver Theatre District's public jumbo screen very regularly. We need to bang our heads on the walls of our "high art" institutions more frequently, so that they actually have a chance to experience what our city's artists are really capable of producing, especially with funds and teams of trained dancers, musicians, tech people and more who I know are more than willing to do something new for once.
What's your day job?
I perform as a street percussionist. I sell art (prints, paintings). I perform electronic music all over, as well. Seasonally, I'm an events director and coordinator/curator. Recent events I've managed and co-produced with teams of people are Fantasia 2012 and Fantasia 2014 (with Stephan Herrera, Rhinoceropolis and lots of people from the underground installation arts and music performance scene) and art shows like the Lifestyle series with co-curator Sam Mata. I'm a veteran now at Rhinoceropolis, being part of the team to book, run and manage events held there for the last three years or so. I recently got involved with a dance company in Seattle, performing live percussion and piano to choreographed dance. This will be the third of many collaborations with dance theater companies and choreographers.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
This question is huge. I'll do my best not to talk until I drop, but I'll stick to what's important. First, I would stabilize myself with a giant, clean, empty warehouse studio space in an urban yet remote location and have a small close-to-me team to begin planning all that we would do with the first space. Over a year or so, I would enlist a team of artists and carpenters to install individual studio spaces, recording studios, video studios of all varieties, a festival spot with sound system, practice spaces for orchestral instruments, new music technology and electronic instruments.
Everything would be drenched in color and sound. As it grew, and I would like centers like this all over the world; there could be bird sanctuaries and live ecosystems instilled into the architecture of these compounds. I would enlist the help of architects, scientists, botanists, musicians and artists from around the world to use sections of these compounds as studio space to generate the future. I think time is pulling us forward, so over a good three or four years of growth and integration with all facets of people intent on manifesting utopian realities, it would kind of take off on its own, and who knows what could happen.
I would find arts institutions I trusted to build massive grant opportunity systems for people in all fields. All the funds are unlimited, so the whole world could be healed in a sense. With truly unlimited funds towards all walks of life, we could end deforestation, poverty and all things that our present system seems to fuck up. Massive teams of people in all fields would be pulled into this.
Aside from that, on a personal level, I would find the perfect educational institution to attend to continue the study of all crafts that I'm into, and travel, attending residencies, performing music solo and also with "orchestras" of light, sound, percussion, visuals, animatronics, synths, marimbas, taiko drums and more. I would enlist the help of these players in composing massive music. I'd wanna buy parking-garage-style buildings all over the world to use as no-rules performance spaces, and I'd also wanna make some feature-length films.
I'd take years to travel all over the world -- not as a tourist, but as a performer and business guru, setting up meetings with all types of planetary human movers and shakers to plan event sonly possible with unlimited imagination and funds. We have a whole planet to heal and utilize and party under the stars for. Let's invent nanobots to regenerate nature, use new technologies to integrate with the natural creative systems of the cosmos, get down to that ancient realness and pull ourselves into the future.
Other than that -- and in a nutshell -- I would buy all the instruments, art supplies and space I needed to actualize all the incredibly huge "imaginary" realms of jurassic realness floating around in my spirit, to benefit all who vibe with that and do whatever I wanted to make this life the biggest and most revolutionary lifetime I've experienced in this galaxy so far.
Currently you can e-mail me if you are interested in collaborating/booking/ curating/partying with me. I would be glad to provide you with samples of music and visual art I've created over the last few years. Artists and musicians could definitely utilize funds (even limited real funds), because most of them would invest it in their studio and craft. I've recently learned how important it is to budget money smart and hustle yourself, and if you strike it big, know how you're going to use it so you can grow yourself.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Interesting question, because who is "Denver"? Is it the state's politicians? Businesses? Media? The city would benefit from reaching out to its youth, regardless of their "class." The City of Denver could do a lot of that work I was talking about in the previous question.
It's 2015. Integrate futuristic sustainable architecture into all buildings. Integrate all the naturally occurring plants and animals into the city. Throw huge, amazing future hip-hop weed festivals to tell your city's population you care about their physical and spiritual health, generate money, and then ask the already existing arts organizations of all types to explain what they needed to accomplish their goals and how they would use it if they were given the opportunity. Hold urban planning meetings and somehow make it known to the artists of Denver that they are invited.
The city doesn't run some cage with borders. We are just people in a certain geographical space, and we can really get involved with those who "run shit" to pull off global recognition for all things true, if we only knew that they would actually listen to us. I'm not saying city representatives aren't. We are all people doing the best we can, and I don't wanna sound know-it-all or preachy, but there are unlimited possibilities of the positive utilization of the celestial marble that we all live on. And it's really about just being able to pull off what you can in your own location with the people around you, because we are so connected by Internet now that everyone can see and get involved.
I hear Denver is trying to incorporate more affordable live/work studio buildings in the next few years, but we will see. Who's at the top? I don't know -- let's find out, and if they really want help the arts, there are thousands of us who are full of ideas. If they don't really want to help the arts, but want to use "art" as a way to generate more cash for the people at the top, instead of the people of their city, then we will continue to do all that we can with the resources we can manifest in any location in any part of the world that we live in.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
I've always loved Zach Reini's practice. As far as professional artists from Denver go, he is really vibing with his world in a way that's totally fresh. As far as musicians go, I'm eternally inspired by Ryan Mcryhew (Thug Entrancer), who's an insanely good friend of mine. Also Drew Reininger (gvndam) has been producing "top of the game"-sounding electronic hip-hop dance instrumental music. One of my best friends is Stephan Herrera (visual artist, painter, video artist, musican, curator). I can always bounce ideas off him, whether it's about something micro or a huge festival incorporating forty or more people. Also, Eriko Tsogo is one of the most beautiful artists in Denver. Her work is infinite, and she is a contemporary shaman in my eyes.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
I am now finishing a new solo album under my new musical alias KBTG. (K!LLD BY THA GROOV). Over the next few months, I will be performing and promoting that new material. I'm also in a new band called Bang Play with Luke Leavitt of Cop Circles and Luke Thinnes of French Kettle Station -- the disco punk band of the spring/summer.
I'd like to get a larger professional studio space to continue practicing installations, video art and music videos, paintings, masks, choreography and electronic music production. I'd also like to find people who would be interested in forming an ensemble which read from composed sheet-music but utilized fresh modes of composing, such as unconventional instrumentations and techno-symphonic-polyrhythmic memorizations.
I believe I am going to start being paid to teach at an after-school program soon for underprivileged kids who are interested in music production, beginning percussion theory, beat creation and music softwares. Also, I want to start working with a record label/manager/booking agent to promote my new album and help me travel Europe with this material and the new stuff I make over the next coming months. I am planning on going to Mongolia in June with Eriko Tsogo and Stephan Herrera to film, compose and score an original feature-length pseudo-documentary art film.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2015?
Music: French Kettle Station, Bollywood Life, FSM, Bang Play, Running Niwot.
Art: Samuel Mata, Dmitri Obergfell, Brenda LaBier and more.
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