Firehouse Art Center’s artist members are showing off their talents in November with a Longmont-inspired exhibition. The gallery will show off the diverse talents and mediums of the artists who work and play at the art education center.
The “Longmontober” exhibition will collect works artists made throughout the month of October, inspired from a series of prompts that honor Longmont’s 150th Anniversary. Split into themes by week, the prompts look to Longmont history, entertainment, community and outdoor spaces to guide the participating artists.
Artist members Arpita Choudhury and Amanda Maldonado helped the Firehouse’s Curatorial Assistant Grace Gutierrez in planning the prompts and categories, with input from other artist members.
“It was a bit challenging figuring out which prompts to use, but I think we ended up with a good set that reflects life in Longmont,” Choudhury said.
“Longmontober” is the localized version of Inktober, a 31-day art challenge that issues a list of prompts to encourage artists to produce new work each day during October. Gutierrez said the Longmont theme was a “no-brainer” to celebrate Longmont’s birthday this year. The prompts themselves are purposefully vague and open-ended to draw in a wide range of interpretations, according to Gutierrez.
“Inktober, while it is a very engaging and motivating thing, has gotten a bit of a bad reputation,” Gutierrez said. “We wanted to provide a similar structure that motivates members to create work while also encouraging research and reflection on local history and events.”
The Inktober challenge, started by artist Jake Parker in 2009, came under fire in 2019 after Parker placed a copyright on “Inktober” and was subsequently accused of plagiarism by artist Alphonso Dunn. Dunn’s claim suggested that Parker’s book, “Inktober All Year Long,” copied significant portions from Dunn’s own “Pen and Ink Drawing: A Simple Guide.” Parker refuted the claims of plagiarism on Twitter but the book was never published.
For “Longmontober,” artists are encouraged to work in any medium they desire, two- or three-dimensional, to draw in engagement from artists that may not typically work with ink drawings. Gutierrez stepped outside of her comfort zone of painting and ceramics for her submissions to the exhibition, a series of photo collages.
Choudhury, a freelance illustrator, said she typically works with digital art so the switch to “analog” helped her slow down and embrace mistakes. Of the 31 prompts, Chouhoudry’s favorite was “Historical Figures,” calling on artists to explore representatives of Longmont’s past.
Living in an older house in Longmont, Choudhury was inspired to research the history of her home through the Longmont Museum and discovered that Longmont’s first female postmaster also called it home from the 1930-60’s.
“Her name was Angeline Adkisson and I painted her portrait for that prompt,” Choudhury said. “She was a very impressive woman and I wanted to celebrate her life.”
Maldonado, who spent last October starting a hand-drawn map of Longmont for the drawing challenge, was also a fan of the historical aspect. Maldonado chose William Henry Dickens, founder of the Dickens Opera House at the corner of Third Avenue and Main Street, for her historical figure utilizing an archive photo from the museum. With just a couple days left in the challenge, Maldonado plans to draw this weekend’s Halloween parade to round off her work for the month.
Exhibitions at the Firehouse are typically planned many months in advance, so the curatorial staff — Gutierrez and Brandy Coons — can account for submitted work and prepare a layout for a gallery showing. “Longmontober” presents a unique challenge, Gutierrez said, due to the uncertainty with submitted work and how much will show up at the gallery. Artists can begin submitting their work on October 30 but must have it all delivered and gallery-ready by November 7 for the work to be counted.
“Our members are so engaged with things like this, it always seems to just come together beautifully,” Gutierrez said. “It’s always a wonderful surprise once we start laying out the work for the installation.”
“Longmontober” will be on display November 12-28 at the Firehouse Art Center. The current exhibition, “Lazarus,” will be on display for one more week.