Counterpath Press was ousted from its longtime home near the Mercury Cafe over the winter, and since then the MasterMind winner has been seeking out new ways to reach the public while also searching for a new home. One temporary solution: Counterpath landed a booth at City Park Jazz, and plans on being there every Sunday when there's music in City Park.
Aside from the string of food trucks lining the hill behind the old bathhouse, Counterpath is virtually the only commercial outfit at the festival. But “commercial” hardly describes the booth's function, or its spirit. Counterpath presented events and published books in addition to selling them, so co-owner Tim Roberts seemed untroubled by slow sales this past Sunday. Instead, he stressed the novel way in which he was able to interact with people in such a public setting, handing out business cards to passersby that urged them to contribute their art to his booth, in “an event-specific installation” open to any and all. “The great thing about being here is the way we can reach out to new people,” he said, while scanning the throngs that had gathered to hear the music of the Paa Kow Band, an Afro-fusion group.
He had already approached one woman, Mariah Graham, who happened to be walking by with a canvas and easel. Open to Roberts’s idea of collaborating, Graham set up her work station and began “live-painting” at the Counterpath booth. Her current series, called Extras, features portraits of “voiceless, space-filler” characters from '90s cartoons such as Rocko’s Modern Life — and kids watched in awe as she brought her piece to life. A few kids — “future Counterpathians,” as Roberts dubbed them — submitted their own work.
While a kid contributes her art at the Counterpath booth, Mariah Graham completes her live-painting.
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One woman stopped by to lament the transformation of the neighborhood that Counterpath had called home. Like many cultural endeavors that enjoyed cheap rent in fringe areas, Counterpath was driven out by Denver's booming development scene, and Roberts and Counterpath partner Julie Carr had to look for another space further on the fringe. Roberts hints that they may have found a new spot on East Colfax Avenue, which he hopes could open as soon as September.
In the meantime, people can find Counterpath in City Park over the next several Sundays, where they can view and contribute to Roberts's sometimes raw — but certainly fresh — experiment in public art-making. City Park Jazz takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. every Sunday through August 9 in City Park.