Looking back on the arts and entertainment scene of 2015 | SteamboatToday.com

Looking back on the arts and entertainment scene of 2015

At the summit of Windom Peak, Audrey Dwyer, Angie Robinson, JD Robinson and Jonny Mcclure overcame a multitude of obstacles to get to this point. Each felt an astounding sense of accomplishment.
Courtesy Photo

On a daily basis, this town and its community continue to inspire me.

Not only are the people who call Steamboat Springs home passionate about the town in which they live, but they are also passionate about what they do. It’s present in my interviews with artists, musicians and event organizers who speak about things in which they truly believe and into which they have dedicated their time, effort and energy. It’s also present when those events come to fruition.

Being an arts and entertainment reporter in Steamboat Springs is always an interesting experience, given the entertainment hub it is throughout every season — yes, I mean every season.

That said, the following are a few of my top entertaining and inspiring highlights of 2015.

Most Inspirational Story

The arts community in Steamboat is a force to be reckoned with.

“I think it’s the right time and right energy around the arts,” said Kim Keith, executive director at the Steamboat Springs Arts Council in the an article on the All Arts Festival. “It’s about jumping on new opportunities. We are constantly innovating and then evaluating.

This past year, Keith has been on the cutting edge of bringing arts and culture to the forefront by initiating the process of gaining the town status as a Colorado Creative District. Such designation would engage all sectors of the community — tourism, economic development, government advocacy, business, artisans and nonprofits — by generating state funding, professional development and community support.

The Colorado Creative District program was instituted in 2011 when HB11-1031 was passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper. The ultimate goal of the designation is to spark revitalization, boost local economies, increase tourism and attract creatives.

Through various events — especially this summer’s All Arts Festival — Keith, along with the collaborative arts community, has showcased art in its various forms, including literary, culinary, visual, performance and music arts with street performances, open-air studios and live music.

“We are not inventing an arts community; we are a community that already has that rich depth of arts and culture,” said Jane Blackstone, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association economic development director, in an article title “Finding Common Ground for Creatives.”

“We are a creative district — small c, small d — but now, we want to be a creative district with a big C and a big D. I, personally, as a resident, would be proud to say Steamboat is one of the communities that has earned this designation by being who we are.”

Most memorable experience of 2015

There’s no other feeling quite like standing on top of a mountain feeling so accomplished and yet immensely humbled by the sight of unending jagged peaks.

During this past Labor Day weekend, I had an impromptu opportunity to travel to Chicago Basin, nestled in the San Juan Mountains, with a few friends to whom I am eternally grateful for opening my eyes to what climbing a 14er is all about.

I was in it for the adventure 110 percent, though, having never climbed a 14er in my life, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But I soon found that when you’re out there in the backcountry, and it’s only you, your crew and your destination looming ahead of you, there is no one who can tell you how to get through it but you.

Hearts pounding, adrenaline rushing, every muscle screaming with every step we took, there were moments each of us had to stop and look fear square on in the face as we climbed the last 200 to 300 feet to the summit.

After my first 14er, I’ve caught the bug and can’t wait until next season arrives, offering more summits to be reached.

Best Interview

Following the history aviator Beryl Markham’s life, New York Times bestselling author, Paula McLain said she met the bold and brave protagonist in a place she was reluctant to reveal in her memoir, “West With the Night. McLain’s newest novel, “Circling the Sun” takes place in Kenya with characters like Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen who wrote “Out of Africa” under the pen name Isak Dinesen. McLain’s novel follows the internal turmoil Markham endured throughout her life and how she chose to overcome those hardships leading her to discover a love for flying.

In 1921, at the age of 18, she became the first female racehorse trainer in Africa. At 33, she became the first woman to fly solo, east-to-west across the Atlantic, accomplishing the feat in an astonishing 21 hours.

This British-born, Kenya-raised woman is Beryl Markham. New York Times bestselling author Paula McLain wanted to tell the other side of Markham’s remarkable life in the historical fiction, “Circling the Sun.” She was in Steamboat Springs in September and spoke of her inspirations and process of writing about Markham’s life.

“It’s also really fun. I like taking on a role of an actress, stepping into a different voice or consciousness and figuring out what motivates her and how she became that fearless,” McLain said. “I wanted to find out what drove her psyche.”

There was a quote in her book: “There are things we find only at our lowest depths. The idea of wings and wings themselves,” that struck a chord with me. I asked her to explain why she chose that quote and how she came upon it. Her answer blew me away.

“I guess it’s the story that I find the most inspiring when I look at the arch of her life. Instead of encountering loss and feeling sorry for herself or becoming a recluse — there are a million ways to respond to trauma — she used it to build herself up, and I love that,” McLain said. “She was the underdog who chose to transcend her environment. That quote circles around that story. She makes mistakes, then finds herself again. After Denys died, she thought he would be the answer to the question of her life, but in fact, she was the answer to her life. She found resolve at her lowest depths and her own courage. It’s that idea of taking all of that brokenness, loss and adversity and pitching herself into the sky to find herself and overcome all of it. That, I think, is extraordinary.”

Biggest Concert

One of Ziggy Marley’s dancers and backup singers performs on stage during one of the first numbers of Wednesday’s free concert at Howelsen Hill. Thousands showed up for the event. John F. Russell

Though quite a number of musicians come through Steamboat, Ziggy Marley topped the list last year. Though I had only 10 minutes on the phone with him, it was an inspiring, eye-opening and a bit nerve-racking interview.

The eldest of reggae legend Bob Marley’s 11 children, Ziggy has released 15 albums — 11 with his siblings, The Melody Makers, and five as solo albums — all to critical acclaim. At age 10, he became immersed in music while sitting in on recording sessions with his father.

The band Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers formed in 1979, and Ziggy and his siblings released more than 11 albums with hit songs that garnered three Grammys. Ziggy has released several solo albums since 2003, including “Dragonfly” — as well as his Grammy Award-winning song, “Love Is My Religion” — “Family Time,” which won him his fifth career Grammy and the Grammy-nominated song “Wild and Free.”

Despite his long list of accomplishments, the greatest, in Marley’s estimation, has nothing to do with international acclaim or award-winning titles.

”Understanding love and how it reflects in the music, because love is the key,” he said. “It’s everything. Love is the message, love is my religion; that’s why I’m here.”

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@ExploreSteamboat.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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