The Alley Project: “If Alleys Could Talk” PSA

Old barn in Montrose alley. © Susan Blackstock.

[Montrose CO | July 2020 | By San Juan Publishing and the San Juan Silver Stage]

The Silver Stage is running a series of articles (both print and online editions), beginning in July, about the historical structures (barns, carriage houses, and other buildings) found along the alleys of the older rural towns in our region. To share their fascinating stories, we invite members of our creative communities and historical societies throughout Western Colorado to submit theme-related photographs, artwork, and stories. Please see our Call for Artists and Writers. The artwork will become an exhibit. The stories will be part of an anthology to be published by San Juan Publishing in time for the holidays and available for sale at participating venues and related businesses and organizations. Collectively, both written and visual representation become The Alley Project: “If Alleys Could Talk”

The exhibit will open In November, when the Montrose Center for the Arts hosts the first gallery show of visual representations telling those stories found along the old alleyways. In addition to photographs (that may appear in the Silver Stage), we are also looking for two- and three-dimensional artwork of various mediums, which could include paintings, mixed media presentations, collage, or maybe small “models” or sculptures of different structures (paper, clay, any material).

We envision this as a “community show” that will share art and stories throughout our region. The show will become a traveling exhibit highlighting different communities and traveling to various galleries and venues in Southwest Colorado. The exhibit is open to all artists, regardless of their home location, who have created art relative to the Alley Project theme. For details regarding sales, shipping, and other information, please contact us.

Each hosting organization will benefit financially from commissions on artwork sold while the work is displayed in their gallery or premises. The communities benefit economically by having people drive the alleys, look for the structures and stories and visit local shops and restaurants while they are conducting their own, self-drive or walk alley tours.

Old barn in Paonia alley. © Susan Blackstock.

If they like the art they see, but don’t want to enter (fear of Covid), or the establishment is closed or restricted, art lovers can make a virtual purchase through the gallery’s website and still support our creative communities. We’re recommending they make a day of it, shopping (inside or phone order and curbside delivery) and including lunch, which can be enjoyed at a local eatery, or picked up and taken to a city park for a picnic.

In addition to gallery shows, San Juan Publishing will compile an anthology, If Alleys Could Talk, comprised of writings and visual representations. We will publish it in time for the holiday art markets—physical or virtual, depending on government mandates. The book, in a coffee-table format, will be made available from San Juan Publishing, and also be for sale in each participating venue or gallery, which would earn a commission on sales.

To gather the material for this project, which takes into account the “new normal” for supporting our creative communities, a Call for Artists and a Call for Writers appears in both print and online editions of the San Juan Silver Stage. Creatives and those interested in becoming a part of the Alley Project may apply directly here. All others, including organizations, venues, galleries or others, we invite you to join us in contacting the artists and writers in your own database and ask them to participate in If Alleys Could Talk.

The Silver Stage editorial plan for the upcoming months includes features on specific locations that might tie into this project. This includes: Montrose for July (to stimulate downtown business); Paonia for August (relative to the Harvest Festival); and Ridgway/Ouray for September (when WestFest is scheduled). Silverton and communities to the south and west of Ouray County also plan to participate. All Western Colorado Communities are invited to share in this exciting project.  We look forward to having you join us!

Kathryn R. Burke
Publisher, San Juan Silver Stage
Vice President, Montrose Center for the Arts