Born out of a conference held in Durango a few years ago, the inaugural Showcase of the Arts was the brainchild of Downtown Events and Business Development Manager Bob Kunkel. Although the promised marketing money to promote the events was only partially secured, the 10-day program will begin today nonetheless.
In theory, the Showcase was developed to present Durango as an art-friendly community and to generate tourism at a time when it normally begins to slow and also ... to showcase our talent.
Anchor groups such as Music in the Mountains, The Durango Arts Center, The San Juan Symphony, the Durango Independent Film Festival and the public library all jumped on board at last years initial meeting.
These not-for-profit organizations respectively created special events of performing, visual and the literary arts. And, at the last minute, a number of the happenings normally scheduled for this time of year were bunched together to add heft to the Showcases calendar. The DACs Autumn Arts Festival, Saturday and Sunday; the Gallery Walk, Sept. 17; and the Open Studios tour, Sept. 18-19 are just three of them.
With more than 30 events taking place, only a handful can be highlighted here, but you can check the calendar and maps in the Heralds A&E section or in Arts Perspective magazine, as well as on-line at durangoshow caseofthearts.org.
Tonight, theres the Jazz on the Hill fundraiser featuring songstress Joyce Lyons in the Community Concert Hall at FLC and also the opening reception of the Salon des Indépendants art exhibition at the FLC art gallery.
On Wednesday at Open Shutter Gallery, a lecture about Christos Over the River Project will be presented. On Thursday, MITMs With a Song in My Art, an evening of music and art featuring the sassy brass of the Trumpet Geezers, will happen in the garden at the Rochester Hotel.
Then on Sept. 18, a salsa festival consisting of both the condiment and the dance will take place outside St. Marks church on East Third Avenue.
As mentioned, this is just a sampling of the artistically focused events, all of which promise to be fun, fascinating and festive. Even though you might be hearing about the Showcase for the first time, the intention of its creators is to let it fly and refine it for next year.
Early on, the executive director of the DAC, Sheri Rochford-Figgs, volunteered the center as a conduit for Showcase information and brought in board member and artist Connie Imig to coordinate the calendar. Howard Rachlin built the website, and key players in the other arts organizations met periodically to keep the project moving.
Midway through the planning, graphic designer Katie Rankin created a logo for the Showcase, and while it has not been used as originally intended, it is expected to appear more widely on next years Showcase marketing materials.
There are a number of fundraisers tacked onto the 10-day program, many of which are arts-related and can benefit from the exposure and donations.
On the other hand, several events seem to be superfluous and would have taken place regardless of the Showcase. In order to be a true showcase of the arts and remain a standalone attraction, the event could be improved by not confusing the content with brew fests, coffee tastings or a Parade of Homes. To be sure, there are more than enough relevant occurrences to keep the most ardent art lover happy and busy throughout the 10 days.
Do come see for yourself. Lets hope it is a resounding success and the beginning of an annual influx of tourists coming to Durango for its Showcase of the Arts.
Stew Mosberg is a freelance writer and has written about art regionally and nationally. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.