Tag Archives: Emily Clingman

Multi-Talented Young Artist Charts Her Own Course

Multi-Talented Young Artist Charts Her Own Course

By Emily Clingman

Sometimes artists don’t have to be famous or seasoned to be recognized. Fort Collins nurtures lots of up-and-comers, and one young particular young woman has claimed her space in the ranks of emerging artists.

At 17, Angela Georgette Natrasevschi loves to paint and sing, but it’s the meaning behind her work that brings out the artist in her.

“A lot of my work is a balance between emotion that others can relate to and a surreal imagery that I’m trying to create,” said Natrasevschi. “I try to intrigue my audience and confuse them at the same time.”

Natrasevschi specializes in oil painting, and lately—the study of the nude female. While participating in a pre-college art program in Brooklyn last summer, she was inspired by female images in fashion magazines.

“I would have to carry my paintings around in public and people would see boobs on my canvas and give me weird looks,” she said.

Recalling how she had to deal with immature comments from males on the streets or awkward glances from females, she became more interested in human’s reactions to human’s bodies.

“I wondered what was behind the stereotypes that are dhoved down our throats through the media and why people seemed to be so uncomfortable with their own bodies,” said Natrasevschi. “It made me sad. We’re all humans and we all have the same parts.”

Her paintings reflect some of her own confusion and dreamlike statements of her insight.

“I might paint a woman, but she might have too many toes on one foot or there might be a snake in the background,” Natrasevschi said.

Curiosity and compassion for the community shines through in other areas of Natrasevschi’s life. Recently, she achieved the highest award a U.S.A Girl Scout can obtain: The Gold Award, for her work in helping people with addictions to methamphetamines. She knows it’s a touchy subject. But she adamant about speaking out after watching the drug nearly destroy her cousin’s life.

Though Natrasevschi is passionate, and courageous, she hasn’t been a stranger to dissuasion or worry. For a long time, she thought her voice was horrible. But after playing several musical instruments since she was a child, she wanted to incorporate her singing into her music performances.

“There’s not much support for female solo artists,” she said. “People are also very judgmental of us.”

She doesn’t really care though.

“I like what I’m doing, and that’s all that matters sometimes,” she said.

Natrasevschi mostly plays for her own enjoyment anyway, as painting is her passion of choice.

She wants to be inspirational to other young women pursuing thoer own interests and dreams.

“Be yourself,” Natrasevschi admonished.” Do what you think is fun and what you want to do, no matter what others are saying or how they react.”

She said that one of her favorite sayings is It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission,” a quote generally attributed to U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. When asked what she thinks that means—“Just go for it!”


Angela Georgette Natrasevschi can be found on youtube at: www.youtube.com/angelageorgette



Dead Floyd: Taking the Animals Out of the Farm

Dead Floyd: Taking the Animals Out of the Farm

By: Emily Clingman

What do pigs, sheep and dogs, dudes in a band, and the Mishiwaka have in common—a one-time-only performance of Pink Floyd’s, Animals, by FOCO’s favorite cover band, Dead Floyd. Fans can expect to hear the album played under the stars in its entirety with DF’s signature twist, that will likely include some Grateful Dead tunes intermixed throughout the show.

The band is particularly excited about performing Animals because it will showcase how developed it has become since its inception three years ago. Considering that Dead Floyd was only supposed to play one show for fun, the band’s members find humor in how far they’ve come.

“This was all just a big mistake,” laughed drummer, Stu Crair. “The last thing I wanted to do was be in a cover band.”

The concept was so popular—curious fans lined up around the block to see the show at The Vault (R.I.P)—that DF played another show at the Aggie three months later. The rest is history.

At least they’re enjoying the ride

When we started this whole gig, we came together for a love of our two all-time favorite bands,” Said guitarist, Josh Miller, “The last thing we would want is for it to become stale and to not enjoy it. So to keep the romance alive, you cant milk it too hard.”

Crair continued, “We try not to play too much but were very lucky that when we do, we play really nice venues like the Aggie, The Fox, Cervantes, or Mishiwaka.”

DF has never played outside of Colorado, despite its popularity. Requests come in from all over the country, especially San Francisco.

“Apparently we’re really big in Alaska, too,” said Miller, who also added that even Japan, New Zealand and Australia want DF performances.

When asked why they don’t venture away from home—“We’re not really represented by management and don’t have a booking agent,” said Miller. “Plus, we’re just regular guys. We have day jobs. We do this for fun.”

DF’s members spread their talent around to other local projects as well. Crair and guitarist, Charlie Humphreys, are part of The Grippe, Crair also plays with Muskateer Gripweed and jazz on Sundays at The Crown Pub. Keyboardist, Matt Goldberg, plays with Hot Gazpacho. Miller and Humphreys do acoustic shows together.

“It’s all incestual,” laughed Crair.

Playing in the band

Just how does a Dead Floyd show work anyway?

“We usually get a set list together that has different theme variations on relative grooves, melodies, titles and word play,” Miller explained. “There are a lot of ways to makes songs flow together. Sometimes it’s nice to make an abrupt change too, form really sweet and soft to something intense and dark. There’s a lot of material to showcase from a lot of different periods from both these bands, everywhere from the 60’s to the 90’s.”

From more than 240-recorded Floyd/Dead songs to choose from, DF has covered a lot of musical ground, playing an estimated 50 shows in the past three years.

“Playing them occasionally give you a new appreciation for the songs,” Goldberg said. “When we play them ourselves, we keep it fresh.”

“I still love playing this music when I’m cleaning my house” added Miller. “I don’t want to be like, ‘Aw man, Comfortably Numb again, we played that last night!’”

Though a cover band, DF still maintains some originality.

“We play those tunes, but we don’t necessarily copy them to a tee,” said Humphreys. “I might tease with a few lines from something the crowd will recognize and then I’ll take it and do my own thing with it.”

“We are a very different from The Dead or Floyd’” he continued. “We are a four-piece band like Floyd, but when they played live they brought a lot more musicians on stage like the Dead had. We have our own sound.”

Band members joked that they actually have more of a Phish influence in the way that they jam out as a four-piece band—venturing off into mystical fits of improv that only happen onstage.

“We make it a point not to stop playing, “Goldberg said. “And that leads to awesomeness that only happens at that show.

What DF notices is that fans enjoy that that the band members really know their music.

“We know the little things that made Jerry Garcia or David Gilmour recognizable—their vocal inflections, guitar riffs…we don’t copy it, but we get the nuances unlike some other cover bands,” said Humphreys.

The band appreciates the diversity of its fans as well.

“The Dead fans are a lot more forgiving,” Humphreys continued. “They let us do whatever we want, but the Floyd fans wear their Dark Side Of The Moon tour t-shirts. They stand there for the first twenty minutes with their arms crossed and then once Josh sings a line perfectly, then they’re all into it.”

Shine on you crazy diamonds

Even though there’s no other band like Dead Floyd—in the whole world, it has no huge future plans other than rocking the Front Range.

“We have just as much fun as the people who come to the shows,” said Humphreys. “When it’s not fun anymore, we’ll be done.”

Dead Floyd will be playing at the Mishawaka, July 21, with opener, Mama Lenny and The Remedy. Proceeds from the show will benefit animal victims of this summer’s High Park Fire.


Mosey West – Merica

Mosey West – Merica

By Emily Clingman

In the true spirit of Americana music, Mosey West’s sophomore album, Merica, feels like a back yard barbecue or a summer road trip. The raspy harmonies of Mike McGraw and Adam Brown tug at your heartstrings while singing about passing the bottle, the hard times had, how hometown heroes don’t give a damn and moving on. The three-man band, including Matt Weitz, is laid back but strong in passion—kind of Neil Youngish, bluegrass and country—a true treat for the ears. The album drifts from now to then, here to there, in and out of love, basking in glory and defeat along the way. “In Tune” captures the dilemma of being a situation that’s never going to change but savoring the comfort of it’s familiarity and dysfunction—well all this talking ‘sgot me tired, tired of listening to the heartbreak, its all long and drawn out, how many years now…‘Sgot me walking to the discount liquor store where I pay a lot of visits—the song ends with a story of a bar fight, breaking bottles, wailing sirens—I’m smiling big now, it’s the same sort of pleasure… This is an album that everyone can relate to. You can find solace in your own troubled paths in life while smiling and tapping your feet.



LeeLah – Kali’s Fire

LeeLah – Kali’s Fire

By Emily Clingman

Self described as an original world beat rock band devoted to wholeness, oneness, healing and connection to the divine, local group LeeLah debuts with Kali’s Fire. With 11 songs about yoga, peace and love, there’s a lot to draw from for inspiration and spiritual meditation. “Right Here Right Now,” starts with a buoyant hand drum beat that has an almost ambient electronic feel to it. The song escalates with a heavy electric guitar riff and more aggressive vocals, coming across as a slightly brash accompaniment to softer lyrics like I dreamed you, and now I hold you, within my arms you rest inside of me. Many of the songs combine these elements of yielding, peaceable lyrics with contemporary rock-style guitar and drum rhythms. A few songs slow down with rolling melodies and Hindu meditations phrases like in “Peace and Happiness,” Om Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu. May Peace and Happiness prevail for all Beings everywhere. Overall, the lyrics are meditative and the music is creative, but the album tends to pull the listener in different directions unexpectedly, which feels audibly frustrating at times.



Local Revolutionaries Promote Social Change Through Their Music

Local Revolutionaries Promote Social Change Through Their Music

By Emily Clingman

Many people who take the stage to entertain others are driven by dreams of fame and money. It’s less common to hear of musical artists who perform out of necessity.  But it’s that very sense of accountability that compels Jamal Skinner to bring essential ideas to his audience.

Also known as Ras Ifficial, the front man for reggae band, Dubskin, Skinner takes a no holds barred approach to calling for social reformation.

A lot of bands are writing songs for the pleasure of having fun, but I feel like there’s a responsibility we have as musicians to talk about things that are going on around the world and even in our own back yard,” Skinner said. “We can’t sit back any longer and hope for things to become better.”

Not that Dubskin is all gloom and doom but Skinner is concerned about a sense of apathy that people have.

“Sometimes they fear being targeted as someone who is anti-establishment or against the government so they stay quiet about issues that bother them.”

Skinner takes the lead in an area where he believes other people have not said enough. He stressed that knowledge is key in overcoming fear or anxiety about problems in our world. Becoming educated about the issues and the politics behind them can strengthen individuals and communities to be more proactive instead of disgruntled or hopeless.

“I have always approached music with a revolutionary attitude,” he said.

The youngest of nine kids raised in a three-bedroom home, Skinner was no stranger to social marginalization or community activism.

“I grew up poor,” he said, recalling incidences of racism and disparity. That only fueled his desire to make a difference. At age 13, he lead a division of the NAACP on Long Island. He also studied Swahili, became involved in a U.S. movement to end Apartheid in Africa and started a tutorial program for underprivileged youth in his neighborhood to prepare for the SAT test.

He then went on to be an investment banker on Wall Street and realized that a corrupt quest for money surrounded him and he wanted no part of it. He turned to music to make a positive difference in the world. Here in Fort Collins, Skinner chooses to encourage what he already sees going on.

“Fort Collins is a very conscious city about local issues, national issues and global issues,” he said. “If Dubskin can be another voice stirring up emotions and promoting change, then we’re doing our job.”

At the very least, Skinner hopes Dubskin’s music will encourage people to bring that positive energy back into their daily lives and live reflectively.

Dubskin’s latest album, Release From Fear, addresses the mental bondage that people can get caught up in as a result of years of experiencing or even witnessing social barriers and oppression.

“The song, ‘Lifts Me Up’ talks about where any system that is trying to take you down, there is something greater that lifts you up,” Skinner said.

And even when they want to take me down, Jah lifts me up

No matter if they try to break me down, Jah lifts me up

Don’t ever let the devil take your ground, Jah lifts you up…”

When asked if he felt he’s too intense or offensive, he said not at all.

“People come up to us after every show and tell us how much our music inspires them,” he said.  “I believe what I’m saying with all my heart and soul, and sometimes a truth can be offensive, but, ultimately all of our songs are about love.”

Dubskin is definitely reaching the hearts of fans locally and across the nation. The band has played Reggae on the Rocks twice and shared stages with countless reggae legends, including Burning Spear and Groundation, moments Skinner considers most memorable.

“We’re not just some party reggae band,” Skinner said. “The true strength of Dubskin lies in the actual music (which he describes as solid and rootsy, infused with their own contemporary panache). We are all leaders and we all follow each other. We have so much confidence in each other and passion for what we do.”

“If it was just about the money, I don’t think it would be as fun as it has been,” Skinner continued. “It is important that my intent in life is to be a greater good for everyone. A fight for one love for all people can’t be wrong.”

Release from Fear (along with the band’s first two albums and a new remix compilation) can be downloaded for free from www.dubskinmusic.com.

Dubskin will be performing at the Mishawaka amphitheater on June 16th with The Motet.

Mishawaka Gearing Up for 2012 Season

Mishawaka Gearing Up for 2012 Season

By Emily Clingman

With an internal makeover, more professional operating standards, and a new shuttle service, the legendary Mishawaka Amphitheater has settled into its revitalized image and owner, Dani Grant, couldn’t be happier.

“We set the bar high last summer and we’re super excited about the success,” she said.

One significant change that worked well was the new shuttle service. Gone are the days of driving up to a show and camping out in the car. Grant implemented a pretty hefty parking fee for cars ($40, which is donated to local sustainable living non-profits). As an affordable alternative, two-way shuttles were made available at various pick-up points in town for $10 per person.

“It was just dangerous,” Grant said. “ People were walking down the canyon in the middle of the road in the middle of the night. People were getting hurt and cars were even going into the river because people miss-judged where they were parked and drove over the bank into the water.”

While some groaned about the policy last year, it didn’t deter concertgoers. If anything, Grant said the new system broadened the Mishawaka’s customer base, which included people who normally avoided the Mish and its parking chaos.

“We have sixty parking spots available and they never once sold out last summer,” Grant said.

Enthusiastic about the positive environmental impact of the new system, Grant reported that during last summer’s season, the shuttle service eliminated more than 500,000 vehicle miles between Fort Collins and the Mish.

Other upgrades and changes have improved the quality of the Mishawaka. The former indoor dancehall has been transformed into the new SpokesBUZZ Lounge, hosting intimate indoor performances by emerging local bands throughout the winter, and movie night on Thursdays. The restaurant has a new menu featuring fresh, local food.

This summer, a new feature will include partnerships with Jax Fish House and Rocky Mountain Adventures. For $120, customers can go on a Poudre River rafting trip, eat a crab and crawfish boil lunch made at the Mish by Jax, and catch an evening show. Transportation is included in the package.

Most important though, is the music line-up.

“We’re bringing in a more sophisticated talent selection,” said Grant.

Head for the Hills will kick off the season on May 12th. Keb’ Mo’, Toad The Wet Sprocket, Eoto, Greensky Bluegrass, and Bruce Hornsby are some other popular acts scheduled for this summer. Acoustic trio, Bob Weir, Chris Robinson, Jackie Greene is already sold out.

“It’s magical up here,” Grant said. “There’s nothing better than dipping your feet in the river and listening to awesome music.”

For a complete listing of this summer’s events and information on transportation or the restaurant, go to www.themishawaka.com. See the back cover of this issue for info as well.

Culturally Infused Jam Band Presents Music With Meaning

Culturally Infused Jam Band Presents Music With Meaning

Photo by Tobin Voggesser

By Emily Clingman

For a bunch of laidback guys from the Midwest, Eufórquestra, a band of seven members, delivers a musical punch to hip-shaking audiences around the country.

“We really just love playing groove-oriented dance music,” said Mike Tallman, guitarist and vocalist for the band. “We don’t focus on one particular genre.”

Groovy it is – the band’s sound could be described as a bold and energetic combination of African and Latin rhythms, funk, reggae, jazz, bluegrass and whatever else sounds good to throw in the mix. However described, Eufórquestra creates its own version of world music.

The Fort Collins-based band is a well-established favorite here in Colorado and plays more than 100 cross-country shows a year. The band’s success doesn’t come without a good story.

Originally formed as Euforia, a few of the original band members played together in high school in Des Moines, Iowa. To keep the band together, they decided to move to Iowa City and attend University of Iowa. There, they picked up a few more members and established themselves as Eufórquestra in 2003.

“At first, we took whatever opportunities came our way,” Tallman laughed. “We didn’t care. We played anywhere.”

Persistence paid off, and soon they were booking weekend gigs across the region. Eventually they started officially touring and played in Colo-rado a few times. Enamored with the sunny state, Eufórquestra’s members collectively decided that they wanted to move out here to further their career.

“We were well received each time we played here,” Tallman said. “And Fort Collins seemed like a good fit for us. It’s a laidback college town like Iowa City.”

“It didn’t happen right away, of course,” said percussionist Matt Grunstad. “It took a few years of planning.”

With a few moving trucks and cars, four girlfriends, a kiddo, two dogs, four cats and one turtle in tow, the band and its posse made The Fort their home in 2008 – the adventure just beginning.

The Meaning Behind the Music
Eufórquestra has three albums to date, the latest being a live recording with some never-released songs and covers with original twists. Its style can be described as jam band meets Afrobeat. Each member’s diverse musical upbringing cont-ributes to the group’s unique collaboration of talent.

Tallman, for example, recalls that his interest in grunge music as a kid inspired him to play the guitar. He then dug into his father’s collection of classic rock music and realized the endless possibilities. Grunstad and drummer Adam Grosso studied music in Cuba while in college, which influenced their interest in Latin music. American artist Paul Simon (notably famous for his membership in the popular folk duo, Simon and Garfunkel) is also an inspiration to the band, as he sought to incorporate music from many cultures, especially African, into his solo music career.

It’s not just musical styles that inspire the band’s song creations. Each member also has a strong interest in music history, especially that of traditional folk music from other countries that has existed throughout the generations.

“American music culture is not very old,” Tallman said. “Many of our country’s music genres stem from other cultures. We like to figure out where music comes from. As an outsider, you have to do more than listen to a few songs. There’s always an interesting story behind it.”

When asked if they ever feel out of place or disrespectful for incorporating traditional music from other countries into their contemporary American performances, Grunstad explained that people legitimately connected to those historical genres are mostly encouraging to the band’s efforts and take it as a compliment.

“In Cuba, for instance, artists don’t own their music,” Grunstad explained. “They don’t receive royalties or claim their creations as personal property in the same way that American musicians do. So, the more opportunities to get their music heard, the better.”

“Also, incorporating folk music traditionally passed down from generation to generation into new presentations – like the American trend of borrowing rhythms or riffs from other cultures – is sometimes the only way to preserve that musical culture or to introduce it to the world.”

From Tradition to Progression
Eufórquestra’s formula works. The band has gained popularity in Colorado and all around the country. The members keep it fresh by consistently trying new things in rehearsal and passing the stage spotlight from member to member, as many are vocalists as well. Playing with bands like the Motet and The Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Eufórquestra has made a name for itself in the national music industry.

“Our fans are musically versed enough to appreciate what we do,” said Austin Zaletel, who plays the alto saxophone. “They also love to get down and dance, which makes our shows fun for them.”

So, if you haven’t done it yet, get your boogie on with Eufórquestra. Go to euforquestra.com to watch videos, download free music, read the blog and check for upcoming shows.

SHEL: Talented Sister Act Continues to Amaze

SHEL: Talented Sister Act Continues to Amaze

By Emily Clingman

I first met with the Holbrook sisters (otherwise known as SHEL) three years ago. Just barely emerging from their teens, these talented young women were getting their feet wet in the music industry. Under the encouragement of their father and long-time local musician Andrew Holbrook, SHEL honed in on their inherited musical talents and formed a family-style folk band.

This was no quirky variety show act (not that they’ve ever been accused of that). Instead, the sisters crafted hauntingly beautiful songs, rich with complex harmonies and melodies and displaying stunning riffs on mandolins, violins, drums and other instruments. They were quickly signed to a label and started touring around the country, almost immediately gaining national popularity.

I recently caught up with the band a few days before they were headed to Nashville to record their first full-length album. They are now working independently, and are gearing up for a full schedule of appearances on the folk festival circuit, including Lilith Fair and Michigan’s Bliss Fest. They’ve blossomed into professional adults who are fully in control of their career and bursting with more talent than ever.

Named after the first initial of their first names, Sarah, 21 (violin and vocals), Hannah, 24 (keys and vocals), Eva, 23 (mandolin and lead vocals) and Liza, 18 (drums), have never been more excited about their prospects as musicians.

“We’re about to find out what it’s like to work independently,” Eva said. “There’s a real sense of ownership that is actually quite empowering.”

SHEL’s home base is here in Fort Collins, in their family home. They produce everything in-house, from music recordings and video productions to graphic design and day-to-day operations. They gather together most mornings for a daily band meeting and often pull all-nighters together, finishing projects and communicating with engineers and producers by email or phone.

“It’s nice because we’re friends, for one,” Hannah said. “Mom (Lynn Holbrook) helps us with management, which can get kind of overwhelming at times, and Dad still plays with us and drives the van, which he is brilliant at. It’s such a beast!”

The sisters feed off of each other’s talent and energy and are considerate of each other, even to a comical level. Liza recently gave earplugs to Hannah as a gift because her drums have a tendency to overpower the practice space they share.

“We can practice whenever we want to or implement new ideas on the spot because we live together,” Hannah said. “Most bands don’t have that luxury.”

Inspired by a vast array of musical styles and artists, ranging from The Beatles to Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac, and writings by George McDonald and C.S. Lewis, the four sisters bring endless ideas and compositions to the recording table. They also draw from their individual inner inspirations. Hannah’s creations often stem from her experience with personal relationships. Sarah is inspired by visual art. Liza gets jazzed by other music: Techno has been her recent obsession. Eva has been partial to classical music lately.

If you have ever seen SHEL perform, you have surely been mesmerized by Eva’s beautiful mandolin solo, “Tuscany,” or stunned by the band’s cover of Led Zeppelin’s song, “Evermore.” It’s insane how cool it is. Look it up online if you haven’t witnessed their live performances.

These women are petite and gorgeous in person, but pack a powerful stage presence punch. They’ve played with Los Lobos and rubbed shoulders with Emmy Lou Harris, whose most important piece of advice for them was to wear a lot of black, as it makes wardrobe easy to manage.

From New York City to Los Angeles, SHEL has entertained crowds of 300 to more than 1,000.  The sisters all agree that it’s exciting to play for big audiences, but that it can also be somewhat nerve-wracking, especially if they know that the headline artists might be watching. Liza said she still gets anxious when they are trying out new material in front of a crowd. You would never guess it, however, as they are all naturals onstage.

When asked whom they would like to play with in the future, Sarah said, “Who wouldn’t we like to play with?”

They mentioned that Australian artist Gotye would be awesome, or The Punch Brothers, Silversun Pickups, Muse, Bob Dylan, Coldplay or Dave Matthews, to name a few.

They aren’t sure where they will be in five years. It’s hard to plan.

“You can’t really control your career,” Sarah said. “You can only control how hard you work and how dedicated you are.”

Eva added, “You have to be true to yourself and maintain your integrity. That’s the true measure of success.”

SHEL will be performing locally at the Mishawaka Amphitheater on April 7. Go to iloveshel.com for information about the band and news about their recent antics.

Fort Chronic: Challenging Social Stigma Surrounding Marijuana

Fort Chronic: Challenging Social Stigma Surrounding Marijuana

By Emily Clingman

There’s a new movement growing in town, and it started with a clothing idea.

Fort Chronic Clothing Company opened its online doors in October, selling apparel featuring marijuana leaves in its designs. The business name is a play on words: “Chronic” is often used to describe high-grade marijuana. Fort Collins has a reputation for producing some of the finest bud around; hence, Fort Chronic.

The business name represents more than a logo on its clothing, however. It embodies a collection of ideas and community collaborations.

“The marijuana leaf means something different to everyone,” said CEO Joey Simental. “For some, it’s a recreational pleasure. For others, it’s much needed relief from physical pain. And then there are those who associate a [negative] stigma to the plant – saying that people who use marijuana are just stoners, slackers or drug abusers.”

Simental and his team of employees and interns aim to shed a positive light on marijuana use. They acknowledge that Fort Chronic fans come from all walks of life –they may use marijuana, but they also have noble endeavors going on in their lives like jobs, or school. They are artists, parents, or business owners. They volunteer in the community, own their homes or bike to work.

“What we’re saying is that marijuana use is just one piece of a person’s entire character,” Simental said, further explaining that the word chronic may describe good weed, but it also means persistent and habitual. “Even if you don’t partake in marijuana use, you can incorporate a positive ‘chronic’ mentality into your daily lives.”

FCC not only sells hip clothing; it has also created an online network for people to interact about how they are living chronically in a positive way. In its Online Community Center, FCC enthusiasts can advertise their businesses or share inspirational videos and websites, for example. Also available is its cloud product (an online desktop) for a small fee of $3.50 a month, which offers secure email and storage space. The idea behind the online network is to encourage people to take their opportunities, advantages, responsibilities and talents seriously and to inspire others to do the same.

“Essentially, helping our community to be a chronically better place,” Simental said.

To check out FCC’s cool clothes and to learn more about its online services, visit fortchronic.com.





Unconventional Galleries Enrich Old Town with Art-Filled Walls

Unconventional Galleries Enrich Old Town with Art-Filled Walls

The Eyes Have It

By Emily Clingman

It’s no secret that Fort Collins is a booming art town, but many artists are still in the dark when it comes to exposing their talent. Without their own galleries or significant funds available to rent space in existing galleries, many aspiring artists go unnoticed.

Fortunately, there are several alternative venues in the Fort that cater to local artists with unique opportunities for them to showcase their talent. Bars and restaurants are increasingly opening their doors to artists – some even incorporate art displays into their calendar of events.

Luscious Nectar Juice Lounge

Luscious Nectar Juice Lounge, located at 253 Linden Street, fills its tall walls with local art and rotates the displays each month on the first Friday to coincide with Old Town’s monthly walking gallery tour.

“Featuring artwork is a connection to the community,” said owner Jeremy Kempter. “It keeps regular clientele visually entertained and it adds a nice ambiance.”

Featuring artwork at Luscious is a natural fit, as it was previously an art gallery.

“Having the art component connects us to the other new galleries on the block,” he said. “It’s an exciting little part of Old Town to be a part of.”

Luscious sits right next to a handful of other alternative art galleries that have opened recently on the same block. Edgy, abstract and whimsical is how he describes the type of art he looks to hang on the walls of Luscious.

“Other galleries do a nice job of featuring traditional scenic and nature art,” he said. ”I like to promote things out of the ordinary. The Front Range is loaded with talent and we have a strong history of supporting it.”

Kempter finds meaning in the unique vibe that Fort Collins has.

“It’s very entrepreneurial here,” he said. “Collaborations between business and artists foster even more creativity. It’s progressive, yet down to earth.”

The Eyes Have It

Another notable venue featuring local art is The Eyes Have It, an eyeglass store located at 107 S. College Avenue. Owners Dennis and Patricia Bell have been in the downtown area for 18 years but added artwork to their store two years ago.

Mixed in with display cases of eyeglasses, customers will find paintings, photos, jewelry and handcrafted fashion accessories like purses and eyeglass cases, all made by local artisans.

“The location of the store made it ideal for art,” said Dennis Bell. “ We sort of play on the name of the store. Art is candy for the eyes. Accessories are artistic. Eyeglasses are accessories. It’s all connected.”

A lot of the Bell’s customers are artists, so finding art to display wasn’t a problem.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Dennis said. “We love supporting local artists and people are starting to come in for the art instead of the glasses.”

He also said that the artwork influences their choice in glasses.

“We’ve been leaning toward more unique and funky styles.”

The Eyes Have It is always open on Friday evenings, so it has become a destination spot for First Friday browsers.

“It’s a great time to meet new artists and get feedback about what’s currently up in the store,” said Patricia Bell.

Big Al's Burgers and Dogs

Lindsey Corcoran, Marketing Director for Hot Corner Concepts, oversees the art displays at Big Al’s Burgers and Dogs, located at 140 West Mountain Avenue. She said that she looks for artists that represent Big Al’s fun and quirky persona. Colorful, bold art on the walls catches the eyes of customers and keeps the staff entertained.

“It’s really fun to provide artists with a space to show their work,” said Corcoran. “ The artists appreciate it too.”

Big Al’s offers its walls to artists for free, and there is no specific time limit for their displays.

Once chosen, featured artists can expect to hang around for a while, as long as the display is regularly updated with new pieces.

“We just want to help local artists,” Corcoran said. “We enjoy working with them, and we’re just amazed by all the local talent.”

Chris Bates, a local artist who has painted several outdoor murals around Fort Collins, is currently showcasing his artwork at Big Al’s.

“I enjoy hanging art in businesses that I frequent,” Bates said. “It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. They get free art on their walls when they otherwise would be purchasing something. I get a free place to display, where with a gallery, I would be paying.”

Many other businesses in Old Town feature regularly rotating local art, including Surfside 7, Coopersmith’s Pub & Brewing, Mugs Coffee Lounge, The Forge Publick House, and many, many more. As an artist or an art lover, take a stroll downtown and you’re bound to find unique places that feature homegrown alternative artwork!