Huffpost Denver
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Robert Schwab Headshot

Calling for a Denver Art Caucus

Posted: Updated:

Call this a manifesto. Call this the initial organizing document for the Denver Art Caucus.

In the style of the Beats, Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, who are appropriate inspiration for this document since Denver played a part in making their reputations, I will ramble a bit and let the reader decide whether to read from sentence to sentence to the end.

But unlike my inspiration, I am sober when I write this, not cracked up on meth, nor speeding on marijuana or cocaine. I am developing this manifesto in my own time, of my own mind, as an idea, a dreamed thought, a half-dreamed construct for the new art of the 21st century.

I issue my call to all Colorado artists. It is a utopian invitation built around a new model for conducting the business of art: production of high quality work in an age when money rules the barriers of entry and most artists are too poor to hurdle those barriers.

I have a friend, John Wren, who is somewhat of a business partner, somewhat of a visionary in his own right. John Wren has an obsession: the political caucus. He believes in them; he refuses not to believe in them, and he believes the caucus is a model for saving America by reintroducing town-hall democracy to the nation.

Not just in New England nor small-town Iowa, and not just for the 18th or 19th centuries, but for the 21st century and for all time.

On Tuesday, February 14, 2012, John Wren outlined his cause to a near dozen men at what John calls a Franklin Circle. Wren has made a life of trying to create these circles, groups of adults who discuss over a table what they have learned or taught themselves over the past two weeks.

On. Feb. 14, John outlined his passion for the political caucus. I have heard bits and pieces of what John has had to say about caucuses in the past. But never have I heard Wren speak of the caucus as passionately, nor as comprehensively as on this day.

And yet not one of us among the dozen came away convinced that John will pull off a new revolution of neighbor-talking-to-neighbor in America to solve political issues. Several of us, however, left impressed with John's idea for a revolution in the way we talk to each other in America.

On Feb. 18, I had an epiphany. What if you were to adopt a caucus model for making art in Denver!

I am calling for that revolution to remake the way art is produced in Colorado.

Call it the Denver Art Caucus, and instead of drawing neighbors together to make political discourse, create small groups of artists committed to supporting each other and producing good art work.

Not just good work, but great work! Art that would last; art that would shake a cynical world's core. Art that could establish reputations. Art that could actually make some money for the artists contributing to their separate caucuses, under the umbrella of a Colorado Art Caucus or a Denver Art Caucus.

Yes, this is hippie utopianism, much like the Occupy Wall Street movement. Yet it is meant to attract young people to groups of playwrights, filmmakers, poets, painters, sculptors, dancers, songwriters performance artists. Yes, this is a new art of collaboration, forged for the "flat" world described by New York Times writer Tom Friedman early in this century. But my idea translates Friedman's theories to an artistic arena.

Artists gather in cells of four, six or eight individuals who support each others' work as well as each others' lives by sharing living space, profits, workspace, emotions, beans and rice and housecleaning.

Cells would collaborate with other Colorado cells to show their work, produce a play, publish their writing, market their products, collect revenue and share profits. I think it would work.

This is my manifesto. I call for creation of a Denver Art Caucus, and I await your response.