arts

Behold, ‘The Pit,’ an open-air boiler begging for creative embellishment in the Transfer Warehouse. (Photo courtesy of Telluride Arts)

When is bald not beautiful? When it applies to gaping spaces that ought to be colorful, vibrant and inspiring, if only an artist would get involved.

Take the Free Box, the Town of Telluride’s beloved repository of local gifting, which recently reopened. The wheels behind the operation are supplied by a recently acquired GMC Canyon flatbed, “a great get-around-town vehicle,” as a reviewer on cars.com put it, albeit one utterly lacking in pizazz.

On the other hand, which is where creative thinking comes in, the new Free Box Truck could be a moving message — a canvas (or canvases, once you include the hood, sides and tailgate) for an artistic vision.

What might an artist’s inspiration bring to such an undertaking, the bedecking of a community vehicle?

Brandon Berkel, for example, collaborated with Molly Perrault to create a series of public service announcements on staying safe during the pandemic that amused and entertained — and sent an important message about the values of this place — along the drive into town.

That project was sponsored by Telluride Arts, which hopes to deploy another “moving” public-service project out into the streets, this time not along the sides of the road, but along for the ride, on the vehicle itself. Telluride Arts is calling this particular three-dimensional vinyl wrap, for which it is soliciting ideas for a few more days, “a temporary, mobile, art installation.”

“Adding life and color to the truck will make a big impact” on the community, “and be a great opportunity” for an artist’s work to be displayed on the move, said Austin Halpern, Telluride Arts’ exhibitions and events manager. The deadline to submit a design for the Free Box Truck is coming up quickly: midnight on Monday. Visit telluridearts.org/freebox-truck-wrap-artist-call for complete information, and email info@telluridearts.org or phone 970-728-3930 with any questions (Telluride Arts’ offices are open from noon to 6 p.m. most days, even during offseason).

The truck design is one of two “open calls” Telluride Arts is sponsoring right now. The other gaping space the arts group would like to fill is their own, inside the Transfer Warehouse.

Just like the Free Box truck’s design, Telluride Arts seeks a temporary installation for the lower-level boiler away, “lovingly referred to as ‘The Pit,’ “a space you can see from inside and outside” the open-air Warehouse, according to Halpern. Indeed, because of the flexible Plexiglas window on the corner of Fir and Pine Streets, “people are always sticking their noses to the window and looking in,” Halpern said.

“The space is begging for a bold and welcoming arts piece!” says a news release that describes the project.

“It’s in a high-traffic locale,” Halpern added, the difference being that unlike the Free Box Truck, this one is not literally in traffic: it’s inside a bustling, seminal spot, where numerous artistic and cultural happenings have continued to take place, in open-air safety, over the past year.

The space “could definitely use some color, or illumination, given that we’re heading into the longer, darker days of winter,” Halpern pointed out.

Perhaps a mural would suit? Or, maybe, a three-dimensional work in neon.

Perhaps an artistic piece might be projected here.

“We want to be welcoming and accepting of everyone,” Halpern said.

Whatever shape it takes, and whatever it’s made of, the installation should (implicitly) convey that message, “be bold and eye-catching,” Halpern added, and also take into account the natural elements that define one’s experience in Telluride. Specifically, “There will be snow in the pit in winter,” Halpern pointed out.

The deadline for the Pit project is Nov. 24.

“We’re looking at a winter installation, which would last at least the next five months, through May. There’s an option to extend the project after that.”

There’s also an option for artists to collaborate — perhaps a mural might be paired with a lighting feature — at some point down the road.

“For now, though,” Halpern said, “we’re seeking a single artist for The Pit.”

Those seeking inspiration might want to take a look at the roles the Transfer Warehouse has played in the local community both historically and over the past year.

“If people are interested in connecting themes and concepts,” said Halpern (an artist himself), they might start by visiting telluridearts.org. “There are all kinds of information about our history, our culture, and upcoming events.”