Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

Building community by building the East Side Art Institute


January 1, 2020 | View PDF

Hannah Stewart

Board members Nancy Utterback ad Kathy Griffin are excited for the East Side Art Institute's future; especially the prospect of a building.

President John F. Kennedy once said, "If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him."

Unfortunately for many artists, they are often limited by financial means, thus preventing them from pursuing the activities they love. This phenomenon is not limited to professional artists, many of whom find art later in life after working in "practical" career fields like finance or education. It's well known that schools are often limited in resources and that the arts are often the department to take the first cuts.

That is exactly what the East Side Art Institute (ESAI) seeks to change. The institute was founded in March 2016 and has status as a nonprofit, charitable organization. But it is more than simply that, as President Nancy Utterback explained, it is a place for established and aspirational artists to come together under one roof to share and expand their knowledge and skills.

"This institute is as much about becoming more human as anything else: being able to take time out of the day, slow down, enjoy, be in nature, find your own way and take a breather," said Utterback.

Utterback and the rest of the institute's board are enthusiastic about their project and are hopeful for its future. However, the process has not been without difficulty. Just like the individual artists who struggle to find a work space, the institute is still in the process of property negotiations.

At the moment, various organizations and establishments will host them, often simply for the duration of a class. They are working closely with an architect to develop an extensive plan for their building. The building, which is planned to be located near Highway 287 and Isabelle Road, will be central to Boulder County, thus allowing ESAI to service all residents.

Additionally, the board recently met with the advisory board for the Boulder County Commissioners about ESAI's plans for their building and classes. Utterback reported that the advisory board was enthusiastic and complementary, so she is optimistic for the Jan. 7 meeting scheduled with the commissioners.

The commissioners' approval isn't the only thing ESAI needs; community support, especially in regard to fundraising, will be vital. She and the rest of the board believe that it is only through community involvement that the institute's goal of bringing people together will actually be accomplished. When this happens, then the institute will be able to support the community as well.

"We need all kinds of help right now," explained fellow board member Kathy Griffin. She further emphasized ESAI's hope for more involvement from the community. That involvement can come through donations, volunteering, and even just spreading the word about the institute. If the meeting with the commissioners is successful and their building plans are approved, ESAI's architect believes it possible to break ground in the next year.

It's also important to note that accessibility and sustainability are two ways ESAI plans on supporting the Boulder County community. Not only do they plan on having a myriad of art classes, but also a slew resources for all who become involved.

One example Utterback gave regarded those with traumatic brain injuries. Often, these individuals want to pursue art, but can succeed in only very specific settings, such as what is provided with one-on-one instruction.

"We want to make it reachable for everybody.... Regardless of what you need, you should find something at the institute," Utterback said.

For more information on the institute and its mission, or how to get involved, visit their website at EastSideArtInstitute.org.


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