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If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Art

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They may get sand kicked in their faces and have their lunch money stolen, but yes, damn it, artists have muscles, too. Their muscles are their creativity and God-given almighty talent. And just like the meatheads toning their freakish pecs at the Denver Athletic Club and sweating buckets of Gatorade along the Cherry Creek Trail, artists need to keep strong. In this business -- the art business -- if you want to play, you've got to pay.

David Schell, a Denver graphic designer, knew this truism only too well. While flourishing in the marketing world, he'd devoted little time to his original passion, fine art and illustration, and he could sense the cobwebs and mothballs gathering in the right side of his brain. So last month, he put together a creative workout schedule for himself: Every day for thirty days he'd make a new piece of art. "I needed to dedicate myself to it or admit to myself it was never going to happen," he says of his free-thinking, artistic tendencies.

Turned out he wasn't the only one into the Rocky-style approach to art. Friends contacted him, then friends of friends, all saying they wanted in. Thus was born www.30Days30Pieces.com, a website showcasing the work of artists in Denver and beyond, each of whom has pledged to create and upload onto the site images of a new piece of art for every day in September. Schell's been posting dour cartoonish portraits of Mickey Mouse bombs and elephants in neckties. His friend Nancy Lehet, an ad designer on sabbatical, is uploading pages from her sketchbook while wandering the Australian outback. Josh Fenn, a five-year-old autistic child and son of Schell's coworker, has been contributing construction-paper penguins and parades of his plastic animal toys grouped by species and size.

Of course, as in any workout, "Some people have fallen off," admits Schell. One got a nasty cut on his painting hand. Another became confused by the technical complexities of the website. A few presumably just got lazy. Schell, however, isn't one of them. His one-a-day devotion has weathered two extended weekend trips and a business excursion over the past month. While he missed one night this week, he vows to "double-team it" to make up for the slacking. His wife Kelly might feel neglected, except for the fact she's in the program, too. "It's been interesting on the marriage," her husband confesses.

With September waning, the workout's almost complete -- for now. Schell's garnered interest from artists around the world and, come November, he plans to re-launch the program. If all goes well, there could be a different 30 Days/30 Pieces each month. But first, he's taking the month of October off: "I need to clean my house and do everything else I've been avoiding." -- Joel Warner

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