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Basalt arts partnership a rough sketch, but they’re hoping for a masterpiece

Locations: News Published

Inspiration begets inspiration, especially in the arts.

That’s Ryan Honey’s contention, and it has served him well in his stewardship of The Arts Campus at Willits (TACAW). In his first year as executive director, he’s facilitated partnerships with more than 30 other nonprofits in the area. Now, on Friday, Dec. 7, he’ll see a new one come to fruition with the Art Base.

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“We’ve really wanted to partner with the Art Base because they’re the other Basalt arts nonprofit,” Honey said. “We’re good friends with all those people over there, but the right thing never came together.”

That changed when a contact from the Front Range suggested that Honey consider a multimedia theatrical performance that explores the Italian Renaissance through the perspectives of Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo.  

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“We do theater and we do lectures, and this piece is a cool combination of the two,” Honey said. “So we looked into it.” In addition to film and machinery (Da Vinci is a long-revered inventor as well as artist), the piece features sketches, paintings and sculpture. Finally, Honey had a show with a visual arts theme to pitch to the Art Base.

Art Base Executive Director Genna Moe — who is currently on maternity leave — and interim Executive Director Skye Skinner didn’t hesitate to pursue the idea.

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“Right when I came in is when we started talking about this particular event,” Skinner said. “I think Genna and Ryan have long had this shared passion of how could we collaborate and what would that look like. This particular performance is a perfect opportunity because it’s this beautiful mix of a performance art piece about fine art and classic artists.”

The organizations are co-presenting the night, with a gathering before showtime for what Honey described as “a little noshing, cocktails, spend time with the creator of the show to talk about it, then celebrate the year that Basalt has had in the arts.”

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That last point is particularly exciting, both Honey and Skinner agree.

“We opened late 2017 and really hit our stride in 2018, and I think what Genna has done with the Art Base has been really exciting, bringing new energy into that place,” Honey said. “It just feel like Basalt is developing an identity as a place where the arts are celebrated and welcome.”

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That’s a good thing for everyone, he continued.

“It feels like the more Basalt enjoys an arts economy, whether that’s at the Art Base or the Temporary, the more everyone gets used to participating in the arts, and that’s what you want. Carbondale started that 20 years ago, and you’ve seen what happened. Aspen started that 50 years ago, and you’ve seen what happened. Basalt has started it.”

Skinner, too, feels that Basalt is having a moment. There is a lot to celebrate — and a lot of work to continue, she observed.

“I think there’s this actual physical divide between Old Town Basalt and Willits, and there’s also a different growth model in the two different parts of Basalt,” she said. “I think there’s always this kind of beautiful challenge and opportunity of how do we bring history along into the future with some new opportunities. That’s a tricky conversation for communities to have, but I think it’s critical. I don’t think anyone would want Basalt without that history and those roots and those long-standing businesses, and I think we all also benefit from the new.”

There is consensus on one front: even geographic distance can be bridged through collaboration. And for TACAW and the Art Base, Honey hopes Friday’s performance is “just the tip of the iceberg.”

“We feel that we’re more successful when you’re using culture as a means to an end. If we just do a movie, people will come to the movie. But if you’re doing a movie that’s about a theme that’s relevant to a local nonprofit and you partner with them and turn the night into an event where they can educate, inspire and inform the public, suddenly it’s a totally different experience,” he said. “So Genna and I have talked pie in the sky about fun things we could do.”


Da Vinci & Michelangelo: The Titans Experience

What: Da Vinci & Michelangelo:

The Titans Experience

Where: The Temporary (360 Market St., Willits)

When: Friday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m., doors at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $22 in advance at, $27 at the door

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