Lyons, Colorado was a thriving creative community with a myriad of opportunities for local and non-local artists to showcase their work. This small town was home to 440 Gallery & Studios, Now Gallery, Western Stars Gallery & Studio, Nicholas Angelo Fine Art, Brian Bradley Fine Arts, The Corner Studios, Red Canyon Art Co., and Ralston Bros. Antiques. There were revolving shows at Stone Cup, Lyons Fork, and Town Hall, plus Apple Valley’s private pop-up artist talks, and an annual art market, Art at Riverbend, to name a few. All of which came to a screeching halt when the COVID-19 global pandemic shuttered our businesses and galleries.
While sweeping infrastructure changes and threat of defunding arts have affected the arts internationally, the pandemic has almost depleted the Lyons arts and culture experience that was finally reestablishing its identity after the 2013 flood. The headway made by many local artists in finding a market and community that enabled them to cover their living expenses and create was suddenly and indefinitely cancelled.
“We’ve been edited by crisis,” says Daniel Strawn, longtime Lyons multi-media artist. “The hit is not just financial, it is cultural. It is personal.”
Where do our artists turn and how can our community support and nurture our culture? The answer may be with the Lyons Arts and Humanities Commission (LAHC).
“We are helping where we can,” said Lauren Click, LAHC Chair. “People can engage with heARTS of LYONS Outdoor Arts Collection, one of two ongoing public art programs the LAHC oversees. They can interact with the art installations online and in person.”
LAHC also oversees the “Creative Outlets” program where commissioned artists create pieces utilizing utility boxes as their canvas. Unfortunately for Lyons artists, the commission work for both LAHC programs is open to anyone in the greater region and the United States. And while this inclusion is good for the greater arts community of the region, local resources are limited. Keep in mind, Boulder Arts and Cultural Council has a budget well over $900,000 for its artists in comparison to Lyons which operates under a budget closer to $5,000-$8,000.
The public can act on ways to help local artists, photographers, musicians, and more. There are multiple tried and true programs geared toward empowering the local art scene that volunteers can facilitate. People can approach LAHC, who works for us. They can send an email to Chair Lauren Click, to ask to attend their meetings as an observer, or with suggestions on how to help the arts community. However, LAHC cannot do it all. Advocacy takes a village.
We need to think and proceed in unprecedented ways. A Commission cannot support what they are not aware of. Here is a list of possible solutions that LAHC could do:
· Advocate for a local version of the New Deal, which took place during the 1930s Depression. The government commissioned out-of-work artists to do large public art projects.
· Revise the “public art call for artists” to be for qualifying Lyons artists only.
· Offer a grant research and writing workshop specifically for artists and musicians.
· Produce a storefront web page dedicated to Lyons artists, either with their works-for-sale or a sample image and a link to their web site.
· Actively pursue volunteers to help facilitate programs.
· Seek out artists to come to meetings to give their thoughts.
· More actively seek out grants, both for LAHC to distribute, and to educate artists on where to apply.
· Develop a workshop empowering artists on how to price, market, sell, and file taxes.
· Collaborate with Lyons Chamber on promoting arts and culture businesses, and giving exposure to them, and co-sponsoring workshops.
The opportunity to support Lyons artists can be more physical on our part.
“Purchasing a local artist’s piece may be the perfect inspiration in your new at-home office.” Says Connie McGuire, owner and curator of Red Canyon Art Company on 4th and Main Street. During the pandemic, McGuire reopened her doors on May 8th, Mother’s Day weekend. “I had a great response from people. I’m finding that even though quality art pieces can be acquired online, nothing beats the intimacy of brick and mortar. More than last season– I am selling a lot of art pieces.”
McGuire wishes she represented more local artists. Although Lyons is full of them, there is still a disconnect between an artist creating and an artist managing their business. It’s not the fun side for anyone, let alone the creatives.
In a future issue of the Lyons Recorder, we will talk directly to Lyons artists and musicians about their struggles in the COVID-19 times, and how they are making the best of it. Write to LyonsRecorder.Editor@Gmail.com if you are working on arts of any persuasion in the Lyons area and would like to part of defining the problem and discovering solutions.
In the meantime, below is a list of resources for artists supplied by LAHC.
Arts & Humanities Commission, Chair: Lauren Click
Commission Members: Chrystal DeCoster, Jacob Leeuwenburgh, Sonny Smith
Liaisons: Wendy Miller, Board of Trustees Liaison; Arielle Hodgson, Staff Liaison
Mission: The mission of the Lyons Arts & Humanities Commission (LAHC) is to beautify the streets of downtown Lyons, promote local artists, and educate the viewing public on artistic inspirations and procedures.
LAHC heArts of Lyons, public art application.
LEAF offers the Gig Grant for working Lyons artists and musicians who have lost “gig work” (independent contractors and freelancers). Apply here
Colorado Creative Industries (on Facebook) has an exhaustive list of resources to support Colorado arts and culture during COVID-19.
Grant & Loan Fund for Early-Stage Arts, Creative, and Cultural Cooperatives. The Fund is a collaboration between the Center for Cultural Innovation’s (CCI) AmbitioUS national initiative; Seed Commons, a national cooperative of locally rooted non-extractive loan funds; and Uptima Business Bootcamp, a member-owned business accelerator, and will provide general operating support grants of up to $25,000 each to five creative-industry cooperative enterprises at their early-stages. Apply by October 5, 2020.
The Museum of Boulder welcomes artwork submissions for the upcoming Drawing Parallels: Community Art & Artifacts from 2020, which will showcase community art that encapsulates and evokes the events of 2020. Deadline October 1.
Santa Fe Art Institute is accepting applications for their 2021 HARPO Foundation Emerging Artist Fellowship Residency. Deadline Oct. 1, 2020.
The Americans for the Arts (AFTA) Action Fund is maintaining an updated table of programs to track the changing situation with the CARES Act.
Guest Writer: Tamara Vega Haddad loves to promote Lyons, including small business shopping, the arts, and political town hall gatherings. She also was the Administrator for the Lyons Chamber during the years before and after the 2013 Flood.