Don't look for any gorillas in the rerun of "Mile High Killers," the Denver-based Gangland episode that first aired on the History Channel March 5. Those iconic pieces by Jolt, aka Jeremy Silas Ulibarri, the graffiti artist whose trademark Guerilla Garden brand got wrongly tagged as a gang sign in that show ("Tagged!," March 18), have been edited out. And that's not all the History Channel did to make nice to Jolt, a graduate of North High School who runs the Guerilla Garden studio and has worked with everyone from Denver Public Schools to the Museo de las Américas to the Denver Botanic Gardens — and just got a major commission on an eight-story mural for a Denver Housing Authority seniors project in the La Alma neighborhood. We hear he got paid for his pain.
Since the History Channel deal was confidential, though, he can't spill any details.
But Jolt's brush with infamy had unexpected, non-monetary benefits, too. "It helped me reconnect with a lot of people I had met," he says. "It made me re-analyze the importance of art. It was a huge growing experience."
Jolt was a winner of a 2010 MasterMind Award, given annually by Westword to five members of this town's creative class. Jason Bosch, another MasterMind winner and founder of ArgusFest (which is screening Fuel on August 12), spent the summer in a much less lucrative way, on the March to Fulfill the Dream with the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, which went from New Orleans to Detroit. In fact, it was so non-lucrative that Bosch's ArgusFest website is currently shut down. "I don't have the funds to pay for hosting," he concedes.
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But those three months on the road paid off with a wealth of revelations. "It was kind of depressing, total chaos," he reports. "We didn't have the resources to do what we were trying to do. But it was really moving. I have a hundred hours of footage interviewing everyone from homeless people to people in certain cities, like Benton Harbor, that have been left totally gutted. Interviewing poor people every day wears on you. But I met some amazing people on the road."
Bosch might have come back to Denver without much cash, but he's got plenty of ideas. For starting a fast-food organic health stand, for example. For creating a "Horrors of the Real World" haunted house this Halloween, a riff on the right-wing Hell House, complete with a zombie Reagan, the BP oil spill and a scene right out of Afghanistan. And he's already working on setting up a local Time Bank, inspired by a workshop led by Edgar Cahn, the creator of Time Dollars and founder of Time Banks USA, at the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit. "At its most basic level, Time Banking is simply about spending an hour doing something for somebody in your community," timebanks.org explains. "That hour goes into the Time Bank as a Time Dollar. Then you have a Time Dollar to spend on having someone do something for you. It's a simple idea, but it has powerful ripple effects in building community connections."
Bosch discovered that Adam Alleman already had a Time Bank group going in northwest Denver, so now they're pooling their efforts in the Metro Denver Community Exchange. "It's good for community-building, but it also creates reciprocity," Bosch says. "There are no throwaway people. Everyone has something valuable to offer."
Now if someone could just send him a few Time Dollars to get argusfest.org back up...