By: Kaia Femenías
I opened the door into The Artery in the heart of downtown Fort Collins to find myself immersed in a unique environment. A warm cafe beckoned me in closer, and as I walked in further I found myself in a very posh looking room with a stage. Off to the left was a rehearsal studio, and upon being given a complete tour by one of the owners, Amy Bradley, I was astounded by the copious amounts of space above the cafe, venue, recording studio and local artist boutique. Here you can find well-designed bedrooms available for rent by artists, collaboration spaces and studios, and a space for tattoo artists! As Amy worded it, The Artery is certainly a “Creative Ecosystem.”
Speaking with Amy Bradley, co-owner of The Downtown Artery
Q: What brought together the idea of the Artery?
A: Well, I was in art school at CSU, and I was getting my BFA (Bachelor’s of Fine Arts), and I had a really strong community there. It was a really small community, but a strong one, and we started the business when I was a Junior in college, and so at the time I still had that community of artists. But upon graduation I realized that I was about to lose this, I’m about to not have this community or this space, and that was really important to me. So, we started as an hourly and daily rental space but what I always wanted were longer term spaces for individuals to develop connections with artists. So, we found this space and it was perfect! So I guess that was the most important thing for me— having this space where artists could come in and work, having it be just for creation, but also to develop community around it.
Q: How do you think artists feel when they’re here in the shared space?
A: I hope that they feel very loved and nurtured and like it’s a conducive environment for creating. That’s the goal. So we’ve been around upstairs for about three and a half years now, and something that we definitely take into mind, because we do get a lot of applicants for studio spaces, is the portfolio of course, and also that the artist takes themselves seriously, but almost equally as important is pairing of studio mates- making sure people fit together well, their work style. If one artist says they can only work when they listen to music really loudly, and one says they can only work in a quiet environment, then obviously we aren’t going to pair them together.
Q: What would you describe as your mission statement?
A: We want to provide a vibrant environment that’s conducive to creativity, really helping people take that step and leap into making their passion their profession. We care about artists, especially artists that take themselves seriously and are willing to put in the work. Hard working individuals, especially hard working artists, are people we want to get behind and support, and we want to provide an environment that’s conducive to that. We want to create a safe space where people can be as weird as they want to be. I kind of joke around and say that the only protocol for being accepted at The Artery is to be a good person. We’re all a bunch of big weirdos that love each other a lot.
Q: Why do you describe The Artery as an “Art Ecosystem?”
A: Well, I tell people there really isn’t an elevator pitch for The Artery. There are so many different facets of the business. I joke and say “Do you want just a list of things we do?” and it’s because we truly are a creative ecosystem, all of the different aspects of it feed off of each other.We have the gallery, we have artist studios, we have an air bed and breakfast, we have a cafe and a restaurant, a venue, rehearsal studios, we do screen printing, and all of these things help the entity survive.
Q: How has The Artery contributed to the music scene in Fort Collins?
So we have a booking crew now. I think that we’ve had a fresh take on acts, and on booking acts. It’s interesting because Fort Collins has been known as a very music-centered place. We have a lot of amazing artists here, and we have a lot of organizations and companies that support the arts, especially music. Though, the reason we decided to start a venue was because there was a certain demographic that wasn’t being reached in my eyes, and my passion and goal is to open other realms and genres of music to the community.
Q: Which genres are you trying to incorporate into Fort Collins’ music scene?
Genre-wise, a lot of up and coming alternative and indie rock, and electronic in general. When I say electronic, a lot of people shy away because they think of EDM, but I’m talking about really just talented and incredible electronic artists and DJs. I don’t feel like that sector has really been touched upon much, and quality indie and alternative rock.
Q: What are you most excited about this year in terms of progress and events?
Oh my gosh, so much. I don’t think I can answer that in a single statement, I’m excited for everything in 2017! At this point, we’ve been a business for about four years upstairs, and coming on two years downstairs, and that’s a critical point. I feel like we bounce around and are constantly evolving. I’m really excited that we’ve established some rapport with the community and people are starting to know our name and who we are and know what we stand for. I’m super excited about the music side of things and how booking has been going is very intriguing and wonderful in my eyes. I’m basically just excited to continue evolving!
With the huge variety of services offered by The Downtown Artery, it’s not a place that should be overlooked by any lover of creativity and all things artistic.