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Community column: Why is Longmont art important?

"Though I am not a purveyor of magic potions that are going to make your life suddenly full of meaning, I think we all could use a little more local art in our lives. Who am I to suggest this? I am a local artist, working out of a studio downtown, who is tired of hearing 'I had no idea any of this was down here' every time someone stops in … and I’ll bet you’ve never heard of me." 
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Joyanna Rose Gittings of Obra Arts

Maybe Longmont art is not currently high on your priority list. But maybe it should be.

Though I am not a purveyor of magic potions that are going to make your life suddenly full of meaning, I think we all could use a little more local art in our lives. Who am I to suggest this? I am a local artist, working out of a studio downtown, who is tired of hearing “I had no idea any of this was down here” every time someone stops in … and I’ll bet you’ve never heard of me.  

Do you listen to music? Eat at restaurants? Watch movies? Scroll on your phone? Wear clothes? Then whether you realize it or not, you already have many examples of art in your life. But what if you are missing out on something more?

Imagine your days without art in all its forms. Besides maybe being a little chilly without the clothes, it also would probably be boring; lacking color, flavor, stories, music, vibrancy.  Now imagine what it would be like if the art in your life held even more significance to you than it does now.

Most of the mainstream art around us is designed for the masses, produced in huge quantities and meant to be consumed and cast away. It is designed, promoted, and manufactured tirelessly with saleability in mind.

The songs we hear on the radio are only a tiny fraction of the songs that are written. People in shiny offices have meetings to decide which ones they want us to hear and which ones they don’t.

Many of these mass-marketed songs do come to hold great meaning for many of us, but are we missing something more?

The clothing we buy is fancy for a minute, but we quickly tire of fads. What if there was someone that would love to help us find that unique piece that would last? (Spoiler: There is!) 

What might your days be like if your art wasn’t mass distributed to you by a faceless decision maker in a faraway city?

Did you know that there is probably a musician who lives a few blocks away from you who is this very minute humming a tune that they made up while driving the snowplow to clear the streets around town? Maybe they’ll go home and record it on their off-hours. Maybe they’ll release it on Spotify. Maybe it would speak to you and make you feel a deeper and more personal connection than the songs a record executive in Los Angeles thinks you should like?

Antonio Lopez, a recording artist from right here in Longmont who recently released his new album Roots and Wings, said 40,000 tracks get released every day on Spotify. Are they all good? Probably not, but are you going to let Big Music decide that for you? What if that artist writing songs down the street from you writes a line that resonates with you but that people in the boardrooms in L.A. would overlook?

Maybe somebody who is painting on a canvas a couple neighborhoods away is capturing exactly what you hate about the trains running behind your house.

Maybe somebody who is taking photographs across town is recording a moment that reminds you of the day you fell in love with your person and it's hilarious remembering how they stepped in a huge puddle and you had to help them take off their shoe and warm their toes.

Right Downtown, in our very own Creative District, there are so many people creating —  poets writing and musicians playing and artists making and bakers kneading and brewers tasting — and so many other examples of art and creativity just waiting to be discovered.

We can go to a gallery in Denver to see what Frida felt while sitting in her bathtub. We can turn on the radio to hear why Nat’s excited about Route 66, or we can go to our own downtown — right here where we live — and experience richer interpretations of our own stories. 

So, what’s it going to take to get you down here?  What do you like? What do you want to see?  We are busy here in our Creative District making big plans for the future, but we want to hear from you. Leave a comment, email longmontcreates@gmail.com, or tag us #longmontcreates when you post. I’ll be writing to you on the regular, telling and asking about creativity in our beautiful, hardworking town, so watch this space for weird and wonderful things to come, and let us know what you think.

Joyanna Rose Gittings paints, exhibits and teaches at Obra Arts in Downtown Longmont. Longmont’s Downtown Creative District is making things happen; visit www.downtownlongmont.com/creative-district to see what’s up.