Dance Express 30th Anniversary Archive Exhibit

Post written by Mary Elizabeth Lenahan, founder and director of Dance Express.

Dance Express 30th Anniversary Archive Exhibit

Founded for the love and joy of dance, Dance Express celebrates the creativity and dance talents of persons with Down syndrome and/or other developmental disabilities.  Because Theresa Lenahan loved to dance and had a natural sense of rhythm, and grew up with Down syndrome, her sister, Mary Elizabeth, knew dance was a wonderful means for self-expression and community participation.  And was inspired to start a dance company!

She founded Dance Express with the help of the Fort Collins’ community, dancers, families, students, businesses, and friends.  Mark Rosoff had the inspiration to create inclusive arts workshops and received funding from Fort Fund in 1988 to create four clusters: dance, art, music, and theatre.  He then aligned with Jane Slusarski-Harris, the new CSU Department of Dance director, to hold auditions for a dance company.  Mary Elizabeth Lenahan (then M. Elizabeth Miller) was studying occupational therapy at CSU at the time and assisted with the auditions on February 25, 1989.

Six dancers were chosen for the original troupe and performed at the first NewWestFest that summer.  One of those original six is still a member of the company.  Tamara Mahler has been a guiding light within the troupe and can be depended on to bring grace and beauty and a sense of fun to her dance compositions.

Annually, Dance Express produces dance and dance theatre performances, makes guest appearances, offers adaptive dance workshops in schools and community centers, hosts an annual regional inclusive dance convening, and provides dance training and access to the arts for people with and without disabilities.

“Essentially, Dance Express improves people’s lives through creative dance experiences.”

We are proud and grateful to be hosted at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery in the Archive as a part of our 30th Anniversary Celebration. The display will feature posters, programs, costumes, and more from the 30-year history of the organization and will be on view until June 30, 2019. Please be sure to sign the guest book and share your memories when you visit the display!

The exhibit will be on view from May 7 until June 30, 2019. Visitors may view the exhibit during our open hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm-5:00 pm.

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Happy Earth Day!

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

Pedal and Paddle on into FCMoD this Earth Day!

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. Worldwide, various events are held to show support for the protection of the environment. Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970. Today, Earth Day is celebrated in over 190 countries. Earth Day is a day dedicated the environment and finding sustainable solutions. Today, FCMoD would like to share some of the ways that our community can be rewarded for being environmental stewards.

Sustainable modes of transportation

Transportation alone is responsible for about 25% of energy related CO2 emissions and about 15% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Because of this, cycling is one of the most effective ways for individuals to minimize their role in adding to global warming. Bikes have an important role to play as sustainable transportation. Cycling creates a healthier planet, and for each mile that someone bikes instead of driving, they can keep one pound of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere. Other modes of sustainable transportation include carpooling or use of public transportation. Those who carpool or bus significantly lower CO2 transport emissions. Walking is another mode of healthy and sustainable transportation. According to the CDC, if the destination you are walking to is within 1 mile you are more likely to walk to that destination, however, if the destination is between 3-4 miles there is still a likelihood of choosing walking as the main mode of transportation. FCMoD would like to encourage all guests, if physically possible, to consider choosing a sustainable mode of transportation to the museum.

To show our commitment, we have recently partnered with the Pace app in order to create a friendly and welcoming environment for those who would like to bike to the museum.

Our commitment to you

Since parking at FCMoD is limited and we strive to create a sustainable environment, if you bike, tube, walk, or take public transportation to get to FCMoD, we’ll offer 10% off your total admission for the day. We value the environment and we want to reward those who take great initiative to be environmental stewards.

Learn more about cycling

Next month, FCMoD will host Discovery Distilled: Beers & Bikes. This is a fun way to learn about biking paths and tune-ups. This is a great opportunity to chat with bike experts around town, drink some beers, learn something new, and have fun exploring the museum after hours. What’s more Fort Collins than beers and bikes? To find out more about the upcoming Discovery Distilled visit: fcmod.org/discoverydistilled

Interested in Biking to the Museum?

Here are the quick steps to use the pace app:

  1. Find your Pace (Use the Pace app to find a nearby bike)
  2. Make quick stops (Tap “Hold bike” in the app and lock up in order to have the bike waiting for you)
  3. Lock and end ride (Close the built-in lock and secure with the cable. Tap “End Ride” in the app)
  4. To find out more information about Pace click here https://ridepace.com/fortcollins/

Fort Collins community strides to be bike friendly. Fort Collins also offers an array of other bike share options. This Earth Day, let’s pedal our way around town to show our support of the environment.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Connie D.

Interview conducted by Laurel Drasner, Volunteer Coordinator.

Volunteer Spotlight: Connie D.

Position at FCMoD: Gallery Host & Museum Store Volunteer

When you started volunteering here: I started at FCMoD in January 2018.

Hobbies/Interests: I like to travel, read, volunteer and I love puppets!

Hometown: I’m from Pueblo, Colorado, but I’ve also lived in Greeley and Estes Park.

Current/previous occupation: I taught elementary school for most of my career, but I also worked at the Rocky Mountain National Park Conservancy for 11 years. I worked in the Gift Shop and was able to give puppet shows.

Favorite book: My favorite book is The Gift of Years by Joan Chittister. The book is about age and retirement and it inspired my recent move from Estes Park to Fort Collins and reignited my passion for volunteering.

Favorite vacation memory: My favorite vacation memory was when I spent 6 weeks in Africa with Earth Watch Volunteer Services to Scientists in ’95. We provided data to scientists by documenting what the elephants had been eating in the way of seeds and woody plants by going through their dung. Elephants do not assimilate their food well. We were also able to indicate how long the dung had been on the ground by documenting the insects that were on it. Very interesting!

One thing you want people to know about you: I also volunteer at the Demonstration Farm at Lee Martinez Park cleaning the chicken enclosures. I didn’t have any farm experience as a child, but it’s something that I’ve become interested in as an adult. I even put my last kid through college by milking cows on the weekend!

Favorite thing about volunteering at FCMoD: The staff is superb, and I also love getting to meet all the wonderful kids and adults who come to the museum!

Thank you for all you do for FCMoD, Connie!

Interested in volunteering? Learn more here.

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Geek Week: A Magical Gathering for Fantasy Fanatics

Post written by Charlotte Conway, Public Programs Assistant.

A Magical Gathering for Fantasy Fanatics

I cannot wait to meet all the witches, wizards, and muggles alike who will attend this year’s Fantasy Fanatics day at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery’s wondrous Geek Week. We Hufflepuffs certainly do appreciate a friendly gathering. And with so many magical things to do, it’s a wonder where I will start this year!

I may just begin in my favorite section of the museum, with the animals! In my years at Hogwarts, we were permitted the usual creatures – cats, rats, and owls. There was always the occasional dragon or phoenix on school grounds as well. But what excites me most about this year’s Fantasty Fanatics day are the real Fantastic Beasts. I may have heard of or even seen some of these creatures before, but I never had the opportunity to see them so up close. And I will finally have the chance to ask all my questions to some expert beast handlers as well.

I even heard rumors there may be dragons at this year’s Geek Week. Not to worry, I am certain they will be well contained. They so rarely escape, and besides, they are miniature this year! Those fire-breathing creatures are so small you can even take one home with you. I am just so excited to see all those fascinating creatures!

Of course I won’t be ready for the day without my wizarding attire first. A quick stop at the Costume-Making and Photo Booth station should prepare me with the proper Hufflepuff attire. I simply must wear my yellow tie so everyone knows my House. There will be costumes for simply everyone – even the muggles can become magical with a little costuming and a lot of imagination!

Once I have my clothing in order, I suppose I will need to make my wand next. Each wand is unique to its wizard, you know! Once I have my wand, it would be in good form to learn some powerful spells to perform. I may need them for protection against the dragons! It will be wonderful to learn alongside so many upcoming witches and wizards, too. I even hear they may allow muggles to try out some spells!

Next, I will certainly need to make my way to Divination Class. Divination is spectacular, and it connects with the muggle science of astronomy! Muggles have come so far in their understanding of the planets and stars. We can learn a lot from their scientists and astronomers.

Speaking of science, I hear they may be concocting a special class on the Science of Mermaids at this year’s Geek Week, too. I try to avoid those aquatic humanoids on school grounds – they can be quite unpleasant when provoked. The Mermaids at Geek Week seem to be of another sort entirely, though! I’ll be quite pleased to see what they have planned for this unique learning experience!

With such a marvelous assortment of exciting, educational activities, muggles and wizards alike will rejoice! Where will you start this year?

Check out fcmod.org/geekweek for other events this week!

Join us for Geek Week: Fantasy Fanatics on March 21.

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Geek Week: Superhero Showdown

Post written by Jason Wolvington, Associate Director.

Superhero Showdown

I remember the day clearly.

I was in 4th grade, and home sick for the day. You know how those days went: simultaneously happy to not be in school, but disappointed you couldn’t enjoy it because you were feeling so bad. Stuck in your room, there wasn’t much to do but rest, assuming you hadn’t faked it for the day (I didn’t, I promise). In my case, resting meant curling up in my bed reading tattered old Uncle Scrooge comic books I had accumulated over the years. When Dad came home from work later that night, he handed me fresh a stack of comics he picked up at the local 7-11 to help me feel better. As I flipped through the books, I stopped on a random issue of Spider-Man that was mixed into the stack. What happened next was pure magic.

What’s this?! I don’t read these kind of comics!  *scoffs at idea of superhero comics* Where’s my Disney?!  *stares in disgust at the Spider-man cover*   Where’s my Rocky and Bullwinkle?! *begins to flip through the unfamiliar pages of Spider-Man* Where’s my…..?!  *sentence cuts off as eyes grow wider by the amazingness of this new superhero world* And that’s how my love for superhero comics began. I’m still an avid comic book collector to this day, no doubt using my super-human museum skills to help organize, preserve, and protect my collection. Sure, I love the monthly adventures of my favorite superheroes, but I think deep down it’s much more about what comic books do overall: as a kid, they inspire awe and ignite your creativity and imagination (remind me to tell you one day about the “Atomic Chicken” comic I created in junior high). And as an adult, they’re an escape from pressures of the world around us, and a platform for powerful storytelling on a variety of subjects.

All that said – and unsurprising to you, I’m sure – I’m a total geek. And let’s face it: I know there’s more out there. You know who you are.

You who love to watch Star Wars every single time it’s on TV. Who catches up on the latest Game of Thrones theories, and won’t realize you missed dinner because you were so immersed in your latest video game adventure.

At FCMoD, we love geeks. And we love nerds, too. You’re the ones who keep life interesting, never stop exploring, and are always looking for ways to make the world a better place.

Welcome to #GeekWeek, friends…hope you enjoy your stay.

Check out fcmod.org/geekweek for details on the festivities!

Join us for Geek Week: Superhero Showdown on March 22.

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Geek Week: Sci-Fi Strikes Back

Post written by Charlotte Conway, Public Programs Assistant.

Sci-Fi Strikes Back

On the surface, science and fiction may appear to be complete opposites. Fiction tells us stories about people, places, and things that are imaginary. Science gives us knowledge about our world through observation and experimentation. Yet, the two are not as dissimilar as they seem. In fact, science fiction, the genre dedicated to imagining the world through the science and technology of the future, has helped many scientists with their work in the real world!

Take, for example, the inventor of the submarine. American scientist Simon Lake was inspired by the undersea adventures in the science fiction novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne! And Lake is not alone in drawing inspiration from science fiction: the inventor of the cell phone, Martin Cooper, gives credit to the communication devices he saw on the show Star Trek.

In our modern world, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) has garnered a lot of attention, and for good reason. In the 21st century, many jobs will lie in the STEM fields. Yet without the arts, even the most advanced scientists can lack the imagination necessary to developing creative solutions.  A large part of the engineering process is to imagine possible solutions to a problem. And when those solutions don’t work, it’s back to the drawing board to come up with new ideas.

Through a stretch of the imagination, sophisticated scientific advances can be made!

 

Check out fcmod.org/geekweek for other events this week!

Join us for Geek Week: Sci-Fi Strikes Back on March 20.

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Prominent Women in Fort Collins History

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant. 

Prominent Women in Fort Collins History

Every year we celebrate Women’s History Month in March by recognizing the contributions of women throughout history. This year for Women’s History Month, Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is highlighting the accomplishments of seven prominent women in Fort Collins History, whose stories are preserved in the Archive here at the museum. Learn more about Clara Ray, Elizabeth Hickok Robbins Stone, Inga Allison, Jovita Vallecillo Lobato, Charlene Tresner, Leonore (Nora) Rice Miller, and Phyllis Rosabonheur Greene Mattingly.

Clara Ray (1899-1987)

Clara Ray served as a pediatric nurse from 1929 to 1972 at the Poudre Valley Memorial Hospital. In those early years at what was called the old Poor Farm, Clara stoked fires in the coal-burning stoves and cleaned rooms as well as caring for patients. In those days, the nursing “staff” worked essentially on duty 24/7.

If there was an emergency night surgery, one of them assisted; when a patient was critically ill, they took turns napping and tending the patient. Clara could always be found rocking a young child to sleep. Clara served many at the Hospital.

 

Elizabeth Hickok Robbins Stone (1801-1895)

Elizabeth Stone, born in Hartford, Connecticut, would travel a long way in her life to make her home in Fort Collins, Colorado. Elizabeth Stone became a local legend as our own cities very own Founding Mother. Auntie Stone was famous for her energy, and she acquired her nickname of “Auntie” from serving on the frontier with soldiers in the mess hall.

Stone had many accomplishments in her life – she was beloved in her own time, and still is today. She started Lindell Mills, the town’s first flour mill. She was in the hotel business. And today, Auntie Stone’s very own historic cabin is currently located at the Heritage Courtyard on Mathews Street. She continues to inspire history interpreters, educational programs, and many more!

 

Inga Allison (1876-1962)

Inga was known for her contributions to academia. She joined the Home Economics department at Fort Collins’ Colorado Agricultural College in 1908, at a time when several faculty members were starting to study the unique effects of high altitude on both crop growth and food preparation. Inga conducted active research in food preparation and preservation without laboratory facilities. Allison entered academia via research and natural sciences and became the head of the Home Economics Department, expanding the course of women’s education.

Next time you successfully bake a pan of brownies in Fort Collins that doesn’t develop a sinkhole in the middle, it will probably be because you considered some of the science developed by Dr. Allison.

 

Jovita Vallecillo Lobato (1908-2005)

Jovita was born in Fort Collins in 1908. Jovita’s parents worked in the sugar beet fields, and they understood that the way to a better life was through education, and thus encouraged Jovita and her younger brother Salvador to go to college. This was not the reality for most parents in Jovita’s community at the time – many children were needed to help support the family and work in the fields rather than go to school.

Jovita graduated from Fort Collins High School in 1932. She was the first Mexican-American student to graduate from public school in Fort Collins. Following high school, she enrolled at CSU (known at the time as Colorado Agricultural College) and became the first Mexican-American to graduate from CSU in 1936 – with degrees in economics and sociology, and a minor in education.

There are no identifiable photos of Jovita in either the Fort Collins High “Lambkin” yearbooks, or the CSU “Silver Spruce” yearbooks. The only time her name is mentioned is one instance in the 1937 Silver Spruce under the heading “Additional Seniors.” While there’s no evidence that these omissions of Jovita were intentionally malicious, they do follow a pattern of marginalized people often being invisible or overlooked in the historical record. Additionally, these omissions make people like Jovita difficult to research – most of the information gathered is from more recent newspaper clippings and the small number of materials that her family donated to the Archive.

 

Charlene Tresner (1918-1990)

Charlene was a lover of history. Charlene was assistant editor of the student newspaper at Fort Collins High School and she attended Colorado A&M, present-day CSU, where she was feature editor of the Collegian. Charlene also collected thousands of photographs and other archival materials, storing items under her bed until the local history section of the library was completed.

So many people have worked to make the Archive what it is over the years, but Charlene truly was the one who started it all. Charlene secured grant funding to start a program interviewing long-time residents of Fort Collins. Aided by members of the Fort Collins Historical Society and her personal connections, Charlene assembled and organized an amazing resource of thousands of photos and she wrote many historical articles for local news as well as her book Streets of Fort Collins. Charlene’s work can still be seen all over the Archive today. The Archive at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery considers her a patron saint, as she spent years of her life collecting histories that continue to tell the story of Fort Collins.

 

Leonore (Nora) Rice Miller (1868-1959)

Leonore came to Fort Collins in 1893 and taught 6th and 7th grade at the Old Franklin School. But Nora had attended Michigan Medical School for two years, and, after a brief hiatus,  finished out her medical degree at the University of Colorado Medical School. She started her Fort Collins medical practice in 1908. At that time, automobiles had not come into common use, so Dr. Miller often traveled long distances by horse-drawn buggy to reach her patients. Much of her practice consisted of maternity cases, at a time when most babies were born at home rather than in a hospital.

The shortage of school teachers during WWII called her back to her earlier profession, and 1942 found her teaching physics, math and engineering at a high school in Montana.  She retired from teaching in 1949; died in 1959; and is buried in Grandview Cemetery. Although Nora transitioned her practice to other areas and began to teach after WWII, she is noted as an ambitious and inspiring woman to those pursing and involved in the medical field.

 

Phyllis Rosabonheur Greene Mattingly (1916-2000)

Phyllis came to Fort Collins in 1949. After a stint hosting a talk show on KCOL, Phyllis became an internationally recognized handwriting analyst. How does a woman in the 1970s become a graphoanalyst? Mattingly got professional training at the University of Chicago. Using her professional skills, she verified and interpreted wills, diaries and other documents, including – one of Adolf Hitler’s. She used her expertise in such varied areas as custody cases, pre-marriage compatibility consultations, and hiring decisions.

She taught handwriting analysis in Australia, lectured to the United Kingdom Chapter of Graphoanalysis, was included in the 1988 and 1989 editions of Who’s Who of the World’s Professional Women, and in 1987 was the International Graphoanalyst of the Year. The prosecution in the O.J. Simpson trial hired her to analyze handwriting of witnesses. She told them not to use Mark Fuhrman, but they did anyway, and he turned out to be an unreliable witness. Mattingly’s other claim to fame was as Fort Collins’ Welcome Lady. She brought newcomers gifts, coupons, and information about the town. She supported many diverse FoCo institutions like the symphony, the library, the Christian Science Church, the Women’s Choral Group, the local AARP chapter, and Easter Seals.

These women, and many more, have made history for being who they were. They are remembered for their accomplishments, as well as for the historical impact they have made on Fort Collins. Happy #WomensHistoryMonth!

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New Fishes!

Post written by Alexa Leinaweaver, Live Animal Husbandry Coordinator.

New Fishes!

We have new fishes in our Animals Encounter Exhibit at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery!

Our fish are all from the Cache le Poudre River watershed and are indigenous species. The American Fisheries Society (AFS) at the Warner College of Natural Resources, part of CSU, has partnered with FCMoD to provide us with native Colorado plains fish species.

Come visit the museum to see our new fishes!

The species now living in our tank are:

  • Creek Chub (Semotilus atromaculatus)
  • Fathead Minnow (Pimephales promelas)
  • Longnose Dace (Rhinichthys cataractae)
  • Johnny Darter (Etheostoma nigrum)
  • Common Shiner (Luxilus cornutus)

Members of the American Fisheries Society sample the Poudre River watershed for fish.

Photo by Sandra Hargraves

 

Members of the American Fisheries Society sample the Poudre River watershed for fish.

Photo by Sandra Hargraves

Johnny Darter

 

Common Shiner

Common Shiner

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Taming of the Show: Processing a Local Fort Collins Theatre Collection

Post written by Carly Boerrigter, History Graduate Student at Colorado State University, Fall 2018 Intern at FCMoD

Taming of the Show: Processing a Local Fort Collins Theatre Collection

This past December, I had the pleasure of visiting England and seeing a live performance of Macbeth at the Barbican Theater in London. The whole evening was at the beckoning of my partner who has been a longtime fan of Shakespeare.

However, for me, seeing Shakespeare performed live in front of me was colored by my own experiences with plays, not performing in them, but examining them in the Archive at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

I was thinking of the tireless costume design, the sound bites running in the background, the director’s notes that surely filled the margins of the script, the artists involved in creating the play’s poster, and the photographer who surreptitiously had to take photos of the performance unfolding.

I was analyzing these seemingly minute aspects of the play, first of all because Shakespeare continues to boggle me and more importantly because for the past three months, I helped inventory a collection of documents from a local Fort Collins theatre company, OpenStage Theatre. In 1973, Bruce and Denise Freestone started OpenStage, which still performs in the local area today. In OpenStage Theatre’s almost 50 years of existence, it has put on plays by Arthur Miller, Oscar Wilde, Lillian Hellman, as well as- other local playwrights. Further, the Freestones kept intricate records of all of the 206 plays that OpenStage Theatre performed from 1973 to 2007. These records consist of almost every paper document relating to all 206 plays, as well as – countless financial and accounting documents, meeting minutes, notes to staff, membership information, and a gun (a fake gun, that I realized was a prop, but not after jumping away from it as I saw it laying innocently among newspaper clippings).

Where does one even begin to make some sort of organizational sense with a collection like this?

I started big ­– with the MPLP (more product, less process) mentality, currently popular among archivists. To give you an idea, I opened up every box of those 102 boxes and wrote notes to myself about what exactly each box contained. Scripts? Receipts? Season ticket renewals? Meeting minutes from 1975? Donations? Grant applications? I took brief notes because the contents of those boxes ran the gamut.

A typical note to myself can be seen below

Here are a few of the 102 boxes with their notes tagged on them

 

Generally from here, the archivist would find some sort of organizational pattern amongst the chaos. For instance, for OpenStages’s collection, all documents fell into two major categories: documents pertaining to the plays or office files.

For the majority of my time at FCMoD, I focused on the actual documents surrounding the productions. These records consisted of hand drawn set and costume designs, photographs of actors applying makeup backstage and engaging in rousing sword fights on stage, unique and moving posters advertising productions to the public, playbills given to audience members, newspaper clippings advertising and commenting on performances, and much more.

By the end of my internship, I presented the Curator of the Archive, Lesley Struc, with about 15 boxes of neatly organized archival file folders, which all corresponded to one of the 206 plays performed between 1973 and 2007. Below, you can see an image of a before and after photo of a box of slides that I processed.

Before

After

Now, when OpenStage begins the preliminary planning stages of their 50th anniversary, a researcher can visit the Archive at FCMoD and find a host of unique items that OpenStage Theatre produced, from costume and set designs for the Children’s Hour, to the newspaper clippings of Snow White and Seven Dwarfs, to the intricate and textured orange poster for Carmen – a trove of organized treasures awaits them.

Research and commemorations would not be possible without the tireless work of archivists and I am happy that I was able to make the Archive at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery a little more accessible, just in time for the 50th anniversary OpenStage festivities to begin.

Photos courtesy of Carly Boerrigter.

Thank YOU, Carly, for being an awesome FCMoD intern! We so appreciate your hard work and our community is grateful for the work you’ve done to make local history accessible to all.

Interested in interning at FCMoD? Check out opportunities under the “Internships” section of this page.

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Interview with Write Minded’s Guitarist, Forrester

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing & Design Assistant. 

Interview with Write Minded’s Guitarist (& FCMoD Employee), Forrester

Fort Collins Museum of Discovery was thrilled to interview local musician and Music & Sound Lab employee, Forrester Tamkun. Forrester, a Colorado native, is the guitarist for local band Write Minded. Based out of Fort Collins, CO, Write Minded features a unique mixture of hip hop, rock, reggae, funk, and soul. Write Minded pushes the confining boundaries of genres to bring Northern Colorado something new.

Forrester sat down with staff for an interview to talk about the music scene and FCMoD. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your connection to FCMoD.

I am a music assistant at FCMoD. I help in the Music & Sound Lab with programs, exhibit care and maintenance, and program development. I became a volunteer with the museum when I was… about 6? So I have been with the museum for almost 20 years.

  1. When did you first discover a passion for music?

I started playing piano around the same time when I started volunteering at the museum, so around 6. I pretty much always had a passion for music. In junior high school I started to play with bands and learn cover songs and play concerts and battle of the bands. Then when I was 14 I started playing guitar. I continued to play in some bands during high school, and after high school is when I got more serious about music. My first concert was at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery Heritage Courtyard. It’s great that the museum has been involved in my music career through multiple events over the years. As an Eagle Scout I helped organize six local bands to play at a concert in the museum’s Heritage Courtyard in awareness of suicide prevention.

  1. What instrument do you play and what drew you to that instrument?

I primarily play guitar, and also a little piano. I like the piano because it is an expressive instrument. When you play a note on the piano it is different than with a guitar. With a guitar you can slide, bend, or do vibrato with the string, whereas with piano it is one note and one dynamic. Guitar is challenging, and I like that. I was self-taught in guitar for the first 5-6 years, and then I took my first guitar lesson when I was 20.

  1. Can you please describe your typical day at the museum?

A typical day at the museum for me consists of running different music programs, such as those hosted in the Music Garage. I instruct kids in mini-lessons, as well as maintain the area, and make sure none of the instruments are broken. (No guitars smashing at the museum, please.) My responsibilities include keeping an eye on the Music & Sound Lab exhibit, maintaining supplies, fixing exhibits when they break, giving Reactable lessons, and providing pop-up lessons.

  1. Tell us about how Write Minded started as a band.

I met Jarod, our bassist, the first day he moved to Fort Collins and came with his family to the museum. He came into the Music Garage and his roommate and him started jamming with me. From there I got his number, but didn’t hear from him for a few weeks. When we finally connected the next thing I knew we started the band- Eye Above right away. That was the initial creation of Write Minded. Write Minded started out of three different groups – a band I was previously in called Eye Above, the newly formed Write Minded cohort, and then an additional keyboardist. The original band was an acoustic rap with djembe. The keyboardist, Wilson, joined and I knew a drummer from high school that we approached about joining the band too. Once we all got together we were offered a show – opening at the Aggie. Then we ended up getting invited to play a Colorado band showcase at SXSW in Austin, TX. The rest is history.

  1. How has FCMoD developed a creative and open space for music?

Oh boy, having the space we do, it’s awesome. Our Music & Sound Lab exhibit allows the public hands-on access to real instruments. On Thursday nights we have Musician Meetup, which is an open jam session for musicians of all skill levels. It’s great – participants bring their own instrument and receive free general admission. People show up and play music together, and volunteers help facilitate it. The open exhibit gallery space offers a comfortable environment. And the program is free, which is important. So many spaces created for jamming together throughout town can be intimidating and scary, especially if you’re alone and just getting started. Ours is facilitated, and we do our best make it as welcoming as possible for everyone. It’s cool seeing younger kids have that opportunity.

“It’s cool seeing younger kids have that opportunity.”

  1. Who is your favorite band or artist? How have they inspired you?

If I had to pick one, I’d have to say Umphrey’s McGee. They’ve been playing for about twenty years and are a total jam band from the Chicago area that regularly plays at Red Rock Amphitheater. They have progressive rock influences. Their guitarist is one of my favorites to see and experience. How they connect and vibe as a band is cool. I’m a jam band fan. They have head signals to improvise like crazy. They are really into their art and connecting with their fans – which I think is important. I think I see them perform twice a year.

  1. What’s the hardest thing to describe about being a musician?

Any art form requires perseverance and confidence. You will never be able to get better at a task if you don’t believe you can. Confidence is key, especially when it comes to performing. You have to have perseverance in the art form and remember there are certain things that take years to develop.

  1. What role would you like to see museums like FCMoD play in helping encourage and support an artistic community?

I think we do everything pretty well. But there is always more that can be done. We can look for ways to plug in with other groups in the community promoting local music, like the Music District. We do so many music programs and events, from live music in the OtterBox Digital Dome Theater, to our  LaserDome series, to Musician Meetup, to providing hands-on instruments in our Music & Sound Lab exhibit, and more. Plus FCMoD is a venue for music festivals in town, like FoCoMX. Providing feedback on how else the museum can get involved is welcome.

  1. What is your favorite part about working at FCMoD?

It’s great getting to be involved in the music programs and exhibits so much, since that’s where my passion lies. I really like the family vibe that not only the staff, but community has. Being at FCMoD every week, you really see the community connection. Walking through the doors you see community members from local bands, City Council members, regularly visiting museum members, and more. You get to see and experience the big picture of our community. It takes a bunch of people contributing their time, talents and more to create spaces like FCMoD. It’s really cool getting to meet everyone.

“Any art form requires perseverance and confidence.”

Thank you to Forrester for his time and for sharing his skills at FCMoD!

To find out more about Forrester’s band, Write Minded, and hear more from local musicians follow: www.writemindedmusic.com. Write Minded will also be performing, January 25th at Hodi’s Half-note with new music coming soon!

Image Credit: Daryl Love

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