Colorado Creatives

Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Leah Brenner

#27: Leah Brenner

Leah Brenner calls herself a “collector, adventurer and quiet curator with a taste for the witty and rebellious.” She came by her passion for culture and what makes humans tick while studying anthropology at the University of Colorado at Boulder; she’s put that interest to work helping to run and curate madelife, a shape-shifting Boulder gallery, shop, arts incubator, theater and event space. Following are Brenner’s answers to the 100CC questionnaire.

Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?

Leah Brenner: I’ve always wanted to be a drummer for a rock-and-roll band. I sort of hate the word "supergroup," but I’d create a band with Kurt Cobain, Mickey Melchiondo, Keith Moon, Cliff Burton and Debbie Harry. I’m pretty sure it would be rad, despite my drumming.

Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?

I’m discovering tons of artists and creatives via the social media platform Ello. Love it or hate it, it’s a beautifully designed interface with very high caliber content from people all over the world. Recently I’ve been loving on work from Eleanor Lutz, Juan Carlos Noria/dixon and Guda Koster.

What's one art trend you want to see die this year?

Bad tattoos. Is that a trend?

What's your day job?

I’m the managing director and curator at madelife, a retail and gallery space and creative accelerator in Boulder. madelife exhibits an eclectic group of (mostly Colorado) local artists with monthly art exhibitions and regularly rotating artist-made goods. We have one of the only rotating mural walls in downtown Boulder (now featured, Jason Thielke and Oakland artist David Polka). The madelife accelerator program helps people launch creative careers. We provide tools, mentoring, support and resources to build portfolios, gain experience, confidence and help people reach their desired goals as artists and as entrepreneurs.

A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?

I'd want to integrate my interests in world culture, travel and art. I would create an artist-residency type program that would connect all kinds of artists (visual, musical, performing) from all over the world with local communities, schools and youth organizations. I’m passionate about exposing creativity to young adults — it can have such a powerful impact on the direction of their lives. I’d also like to travel all around the world and just experience the physical places.

What's the one thing Boulder (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?

I’ll speak to Boulder since that’s where I work and live. Boulder government agencies should centralize around a public art system making it easier for artists, communities, property owners and businesses to mobilize around creating art for our city. I’m very hopeful that with the launch of the new Arts and Cultural Plan this year, progress will be made towards city-funded initiatives and supported integration.

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

I’m constantly amazed by the creative energy and art that is bubbling out of Colorado. If I have to play favorites, I’d say Sandi Calistro, Regan Rosberg, Jaime Molina, CT Nelson, Jason Thielke and, even though they aren't currently in Colorado, Hari & Deepti!

What's on your agenda in the coming year?

I’m really excited to be working with Hollis + Lana and Rebecca Green later this year—big fan girl of both.

Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2015?

Brian Leach and Cactus are a mega-talented duo from Steamboat (Cactofab) creating one-of-a-kind functional art. Really solid humans creating stunning pieces. They deserve lots of notices from the local community and beyond. 

Learn more about madelife online at the website  or on Facebook.

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd

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