Beloved Underground Venue GNU Gets a Second Chance in Fort Collins

The GNU: experience gallery before its closure in July 2013.
The GNU: experience gallery before its closure in July 2013.
Andrew Schneider

When it comes to art, second chances are rare, but they can happen. After the Fort Collins art space Gallery Underground closed down in April 2011, Brandton Manshel, his wife Sarah, and their friend Thomas Herrera helped it live on by opening a venue in its place. During July 2013, after plenty of shows and a lot of art, the Manshel's venue (affectionately titled the "Gallery New Underground" or GNU: experience gallery) came to an abrupt end.

See also: Brandton Manshel of GNU on the struggles of keeping a DIY space going in Fort Collins

Now, the Manshels will begin hosting shows again under the GNU name in the Downtown Artery, a shared art space located at 252 Linden St. in Fort Collins. This will mark GNU's second chance to start anew.

"When the rock calls, I guess you answer, right?" says Brandton. In October, he organized a one-off show at the Artery featuring comic book artist and musician Jeffery Lewis.

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"Jeffery was great. Everybody stayed at our house afterwards," Brandton recalls. "We had nice breakfast burritos and shit loads of coffee the next morning and talked about comic books."

The show inspired Brandton to continue booking shows, like he did at the GNU: experience gallery.

"There won't be a spot like the old spot," Brandton says. But he's enthusiastic about working with the Artery, which boasts sixteen art studios for rent, a gallery complete with a bar, a couple of places to crash, a rooftop deck and a recording room called "State Line Studios." Some of those art studios are home to a slew of in-house creatives, including musicians, photographers, tattoo artists and architects.

In January, the Artery was forced to close its doors for mandated renovations. In light of the news, the in-house crew decided to build out more amenities to make a space that, according to its online mission statement, "caters to the revival of the working artist (and is) conducive to taking the leap of faith into making one's passion their profession." With all the creativity going around, it was natural for the Artery to begin hosting shows.

And, along with its new found creature-comforts and built-in sense of community, the Artery got better at marketing itself, says Brandton. "It's still attractive to everybody that would come to the [GNU: experience gallery] and more accessible to the public. The potential for serious amounts of fun is high."

On Thursday, December 11, the Artery will host its first official, GNU-organized show, featuring Denver's lo-fi garage-rocker, Pizza Time, as well as the Fort Collins freak-folk trio, Too Many Teeth, and experimental artist, Whitecatpink. The show will also act as a soft opening for the Artery after all it's remodeling.

This being the second time around, Manshel feels good, like nothing ever changed.

"GNU's mission is the same as it has been, which is to support our local artists and friends the best we can," Manshel explains. "We're still not in it for the money, like other places necessarily are, so that's good for people -- just hit us up if you want to try to make some fun in Fort Collins with us. It's nice here."

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