#1: Susan Froyd
Now and then throughout this grand 100CC adventure, it’s been suggested that I participate in my own project and answer the questionnaire myself. I haven't known exactly what to think about that, because I don’t see myself as the maker and doer here. I’m just the ultimate fan-girl, eager to share news about the countless local people who are making and doing and thinking and conjuring beauty in my hometown and state. But as the second round of the Colorado Creatives series draws to a close, I’ve decided to listen to that occasional suggestion and take the quiz, if for no other reason than to test the waters of these questions, and see for myself how hard they really are to answer. Thanks for letting me have some fun.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Susan Froyd: Though I’m not certain what the collaboration would be, I would like to work with my younger brother, J. Gluckstern, a filmmaker, photographer and writer. For the last few years, he’s been perfecting a style of long-exposure digital photography that’s distinctly his own, creating painterly landscapes and still-lifes from nature and sometimes exploring his own alter ego as an omniscient golem in the woods. He’s very much in control of his process at this point, and he turns out new work — breathtaking, beautiful work with referential titles, which he posts on Facebook — almost every night when he goes out to walk. Sadly, words are the closest thing to a contribution I could share with him in a collaboration, but his images already speak for themselves.
On the other hand, many people seem to operate under the notion that being an artist isn’t a job. I’d like to take part in a book or documentary project that proves them wrong, by showing artists at work, sometimes against great odds. It’s a story that happens every day in every community, under the radar of the general public.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
I love writers like Sherman Alexie and Luis Alberto Urrea, who sandwich their cultural pathos between great slices of humor, and Patti Smith, who still burns bright as an artist and writer looking back over her own exceptional life with clarity. Her memoirs are so in the moment that as you read them, you are right there inside her mind, even as it existed decades ago; she’s a historian working from the inside out. If you want to figure me out according to my quirky reading habits, it’s telling that these authors are also all poets.
Mainly, though, day to day I’m interested in all of Denver’s arts community, from mural painters and outsiders to abstract painters and conceptual artists, dancers and comics, directors and curators, actors and designers and songwriters and activists. It’s a full-time job keeping track of them all!
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
While it’s not fair to expect art or theater to not be political (it’s a compelling reason to create), I’m not fond of art-world politics.
What's your day job?
My job as Arts and Culture Editor at Westword is a 24/7 day-and-night job. I think about what I need to do in the morning as I’m going to sleep, and when I wake up, I sit up in bed, open my laptop and begin to work. I’m caught every minute in a tangle of octopus arms: press releases, social media, images, e-mails and tips come at me from all directions, and it’s out of that jumble that I must decide what’s important enough to showcase. If an event/person/show/performance makes that cut, I then have to decide how I’m going to cover it — or who’s going to cover it for me. The decisions aren’t easy. It’s kind of a grind, but a good grind; my only regret is that I can’t do more.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
Unlimited is an impossible number, but if I had it, I’m not sure I’d want to solve every world problem, because I don’t want to see humankind lose its creative edge. In a perfect world, nobody needs to make a difference. But I would start by making quality education and medical and mental-health care free for all, and then I’d build and subsidize artist colonies around the world in all the disciplines, places where people could find the space to work without struggling to survive. I’d implement worldwide sanctuaries for animals, because I’m an animal person. And I’m not sure that all the money in the world would make a difference, but I’d outlaw all weapons and war. Ha, those are pipe dreams, but maybe I’d see what I could do about getting soda pop in all the drinking fountains and at least three recesses a day in every school and workplace (smiley face).
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Subsidize! Create more grant programs, public-art commissions and residencies for local artists. Find creative ways to keep artists working here and not somewhere else. I’m a big fan of the Denver Urban Arts Fund, which fosters the creation of down-to-earth public mural art that anyone can pass by chance and enjoy in the moment.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
It would be impossible to list them all, not to mention list the reasons why they are my favorites, but these are a few: Mark Sink, who kickstarts the biennial Month of Photography in Denver every other year from the grassroots up, offers support to young artists on the way up, wheat-pastes photographic images on city walls and captures stark beauty in his wet-plate portraits. Viviane Le Courtois’s fascinating practice involves the community while capturing the slow change of life processes. I love the wild installations and drawings that spring forth from the crazy, methodical mind of artist Don Fodness. Fashion designer Mona Lucero is a classy and brainy lady with an educated eye for timeless style. I’ve called Lauri Lynnxe Murphy a force of nature, and that still stands. Thomas Scharfenberg blends the innocent spontaneity of graffiti art with an affinity for unglued patterning gained under the tutelage of Clark Richert. Poet Julie Carr is a genius, and slam queen Suzi Q. Smith has grown beyond her own bold facility with spoken word to lead new generations in the slam-poetry world. Curator Cortney Lane Stell is busy presenting new ideas in art via the Black Cube pop-up museum, and erudite Adam Lerner is changing the face of the brick-and-mortar art museum at MCA Denver.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
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Now that the second round is over, I’ll be taking a break from the 100 Colorado Creatives series, but expect it to come back in 2016, perhaps with a retooled set of questions. My real goal is to get out next year and experience more of what I write about. It’s hard to balance time at my desk and time in the field, but I hope to find find the wiggle room to conduct studio visits and see more art up close. Wish me luck.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
I’m not going to say too much about this right now, as I’ll be elaborating on the question in a year-end list. But I am interested by the work of the curator and the rise of alternative spaces that are changing the definition of that work. Good or bad? Neither. I think there’s room in the art world for both scholarly and community-driven, DIY versions of exhibit-making, so let’s see where it all goes and enjoy the ride. There’s a lot of art worth looking at out there.