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An Afternoon at Firehouse Art Center

By Mersadi McClure

When Firehouse Art Center Curator Brandy Coons called me one Wednesday afternoon to let me know that a local band was filming a music video inside of the Main Gallery space, I set aside my work for the day and made the short trek over to the gallery on the corner of 4th Ave. and Coffman St. in Downtown Longmont.

A cornerstone of the creative community in Longmont since 1999, Firehouse Art Center curates 12 unique exhibitions a year in their main gallery space, in addition to hosting workshops and art classes, providing artist studio spaces upstairs, an artist residency and membership program, and the Bi-annual ArtWalk festival in Downtown Longmont. The Wednesday I visited, Fort Collins based band The Cat Calls was filming their music video audition for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert inside the main gallery space, their band equipment meshed in between domineering and immersive sculptures from Firehouse’s latest gallery exhibition, “Don’t Panic” by Chelsea Gilmore. As they played and sound became the dominant presence inside the gallery,  Chelsea’s sculptures which initially had held my focus in the space, framed the band as they discussed last minute details and tuned their instruments. 

“Don’t Panic” by Chelsea Gilmore transforms the Main Gallery space into a strange but familiar landscape. Utilizing waste materials from local digital print manufacturer CircleGraphics, Chelsea’s installations seem like they were grown organically in the gallery, stretching from the floor to the ceiling and casting shadows throughout. The inorganic material that comprises the installations once was recyclable, but no longer can be exported to China to be processed, exposing the inconspicuous waste and by-products of our built environment most of us never think twice about. In the South Gallery, Chelsea Gilmore curates a collection of “Unexpected Moments” from fellow creatives Jess Webb, Jo FItsell, and Elizabeth Morisette. Through repetition, everyday materials find new life and the viewer is presented with a question, why can’t used tea bags and old festival wristbands be considered art too? 

Art organizations like Firehouse Art Center are an invaluable asset to the communities in which they call home, giving many community members their first experience inside a traditional art gallery, while also providing accessible opportunities to get involved in the creative community, explore and define their own creativity, and foster a lifelong appreciation of the arts. Firehouse Art Center hosts events weekly, in addition to exhibition openings the 2nd Friday of each month in the Longmont Creative District.

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