When Judy Anderson stepped down as director of PlatteForum, the nonprofit arts-mentor program, her shoes could only be filled by a special individual with a knack for fundraising and arts marketing, as well as an artist’s eye. That person is Kim Estes McCarty, who comes to PlatteForum fresh from a five-year stint behind the scenes at the Art Students League of Denver. What does it take to helm what’s become a Denver arts institution that fosters collaborative art experiences for young people? We invited the new face of PlatteForum to introduce herself via the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Kim Estes McCarty: How do you narrow down the world? There’s not enough time to cover all the art practices I adore (theater, visual art, film, writing), so I’m going to focus on music. I’m currently obsessed with Jason Isbell. His lyrics are brilliant. Plus, I’m a sucker for a raspy voice and big fat guitars. Throw in a traditional fiddle or pedal steel guitar, and I’m a goner. I’m always seeking out what’s new, shiny and edgy, but I guess we all tend to gravitate towards our roots for what touches us most deeply.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
Why would anyone want to see any art trend die? It would be pretentious of me to assume my personal taste in art outweighs another's. Art is very personal, and if I don't like something, then I don't have to look at it, watch it or listen to it. Trying to kill it would make me a censor. Personally, I’m not a big fan of how country music has morphed into what I think is average pop music with a sad back-story — but my parents love it. Why would I want to take that joy from them? I just listen and smile when I ride in their car, and I don’t subject them to the Ramones when they ride in mine.
What's your day job?
I recently took on the role of executive director of the arts nonprofit PlatteForum. How lucky am I to be surrounded by creatives in my daily life?
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I’d ask the patron to set up a fund to pay the rent/mortgage and utilities of every local arts and culture nonprofit with an operating budget of under $2 million/year. That way they can focus on supporting their programming and staff and not worry about keeping the lights on and their doors open.
Denver (or Colorado), love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
I've been in Denver for 23 years, and I'm not going anywhere. I was raised in a rural area of Arizona, showing horses and participating in 4H. But as an adult, I lived in both New York and Los Angeles. I love that Denver has managed to retain its cowtown roots but has also embraced arts and culture in such a significant way. I get the best of both worlds.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
I’ve got a laundry list of things our citizens can do to help. Do one or all, every little bit helps:
—Buy a ticket to a show or take advantage of SCFD free days.
—Buy local art (and no, illegally downloading music does not count as buying art).
—Donate to your favorite arts and culture nonprofit (time, money or goods/services).
—Expose the youngsters in your life to the arts – they are the future, and if they don’t get arts in school, it’s our duty to make sure they get it somewhere.
—Vote for elected officials who support the arts.
—Vote to reauthorize SCFD funding (general election in 2016), and never, never ask an artist to donate their work!
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Rebecca Vaughan happens to be my favorite creative of the moment. A practicing visual artist, her installation work is playful while conveying her strong feminist values. More important, Vaughan is deeply committed to making art accessible to everyone through both her artistic practice and her day job. Anyone who dedicates their life’s work to arts education earns my love and respect.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
Beside guiding PlatteForum towards a sustainable future and helping to garner voter support for SCFD reauthorization, I need to get back to my own art practice. Working in the administrative end of the arts often eclipses your personal work. I started working on a collection of short stories that is screaming for my attention, and I’ve gotten back to my drawing practice on a more regular basis. I just need to keep the momentum going.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts (or comedy) community in the coming year?
I don’t think I can predict who will get noticed, but here a few folks who I feel deserve some recognition:
Frankie Toan, who is currently in residency with PlatteForum (shameless plug, I know) is doing some really interesting work with metal and fiber. His work is playful, sensual and begs to be touched. The good news: most is interactive, so you don’t have to fight your instincts.
Playwright Jeffrey Newman's scripts are witty, biting and hysterical. I’d love to see more of his work in production.
Taylor Boylston is doing some amazing work with photography, specifically with Polaroid portraiture. Her work is innocent, uncomfortable and provocative.
PlatteForum will host an opening reception for the exhibit Plush It Real Good, an installation created by artist Frankie Toan and students from McLain Community High School, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3. Learn more about Kim McCarty and PlatteForum online.