A path to progress with Louise from RedLine

Louise Martorano


Rebuild Rhinoceropolis

Today we’re talking to Louise from RedlineArt.org. Redline is a nonprofit, contemporary, art center. Fostering education and engagement between artists and communities to create positive social change. They are an art gallery with a whole host of resident artists, which you will learn all about through the show.

Since we are talking about art, I would like to kind of breach maybe a sensitive subject. On Thursday, the fire department went into a local artists conclave, called Rhinoceropolis. A group that has put on shows, maybe for a decade, concerts, art studios, basically been a real grass roots hub for Denver arts, particularly in the RiNo neighborhood. The RiNo neighborhood has been bubbling for ten years, but up until the last two years it was really an artist centric location.

Now it’s possibly one of the hottest neighborhoods in the entire country, which kind of brings along with it certain challenges, I suppose. One being kicking out the old residents that made the place special in lieu of development and economic opportunities.

Last Thursday the fire department entered and evicted the people that were living there. I think it’s maybe half a dozen folks that were living at the studio. This was a reaction to the horrible tragedy of the ghost ship fire in Oakland. I think the city of Denver was doing their best to keep their citizens protected and to make sure a similar tragedy doesn’t happen in Denver, and that’s noble. However, it’s a little bit heavy handed when you go in at 5:00 pm, when it’s five degrees below zero, and evict people from their living space – without any prior warning. I don’t think it’s fair to those people and I don’t think it really speaks well to the kind of relationship that Denver wants to build with its artists.

That being said, there is a GoFundMe live right now for Rhinoceropolis.

In addition, I want to share this piece that I found on Medium. Danielle Thys wrote a couple lines that I think are relatively poignant to Americas obsession with arts and creative intellectual property and also their (Americans) repulsion by the process it takes to get to a really kind of mass scale artistic expression.

Judgement and the Ghost Ship Tragedy: America Has Abandoned Its Artists.

After hearing this was a “rave” I’ve seen some people react with a raised eyebrow and knowing, “Ahhh, well…” as if that somehow explains or makes this tragedy any more comprehensible. I couldn’t quite put words as to why I found that response so offensive. The people who lost their lives in the Ghost Ship Artist Collective warehouse fire, were victims of a constellation of unfortunate circumstances, including the criminal negligence of a badly maintained building. They themselves did absolutely nothing wrong. Many were artists and musicians, and most were young, living and working in the Bay Area. It’s no small feat to make it work as a creative here, in one of the most expensive places on Earth. You accept crappy buildings and absentee landlords because you simply must in order to live and create and develop your talents.

What happened is just horribly, terribly sad. And it is a sad reminder of how marginalized you usually are if you are an artist in the United States. Artists don’t seek out these kinds of risks. They are forced to either live with them or abandon their creative pursuits. We live in a schizoid society that denigrates process and deifies product. We bleed money for the goods creative individuals produce once they’re established. But we do next to nothing -and I mean seriously…nothing- to support those individuals in the interim. No education, no training, no grants, no subsidies, no rental assistance, no significant tax breaks, no safe space to work or live or perform. Yes, there are struggling, anemic programs here or there. But there is ostensibly no safety net and the cuts keep coming to the thin thread that masquerades as one.

This is the result of a culture of ever worsening disregard for the arts in general. Artists are treated with either disgust or as demigods. Nothing in between. The reality is, real working artists are some of the hardest working people you will ever encounter, and a great many are part of the working poor. You know who you are and you know I am speaking the truth. In the ever more culturally impoverished United States, being an artist is staggeringly more difficult than in numerous countries where artists are supported and celebrated as culture makers and shapers, not derided and characterized as self indulgent hacks and slackers unless their single hits platinum or they get a million per role.

Danielle makes some pretty scathing accusations. As a country on whole, maybe some of those are correct, but I think if anyone’s looking for a solution, RedLine Arts is a great example of how we can build our artists and our art programs in our cities. I really appreciate Louise bringing me in and giving me the tour. I had a wonderful time there and I hope you enjoy the conversation.

[bctt tweet=”Real working artists are some of the hardest working people you will ever encounter. // @daniellethys” username=”talklaunch”]



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