A husband-and-wife pair of Aspen filmmakers are taking statewide viewers inside the creative process of artists across Colorado in a new documentary airing Tuesday night on Rocky Mountain PBS.
Aspen's Chris Macdonald directed and edited the film and co-produced it with his wife, Heather Macdonald, who together run the local production company FuseMedia.
"We just wanted to give exposure to artists in Colorado, because I think there are so many talented people," Macdonald said. "And we wanted to focus outside of the urban areas."
Titled "Colorado Artbeat," the documentary profiles five artists.
Sara Ransford walks viewers through how she conceives her paper clay sculptures inspired by natural forms in the desert around Loma, where she lives (Ransford also has an Aspen studio).
"I love being able to go down to a canyon and see the layers and layers of years that have been exposed," Ransford explains on a desert hike in the film. "But not only that, the way the water comes in and sculpts."
Missouri Heights-based Robert Burch reveals how he makes uncanny sculptures of blown glass and hard metal. Burch, who is out of the SAW collective in Carbondale, has shown at Forre Fine Art in Aspen. He lives in a solar-powered tiny home that he built on a trailer, using, he says in the film, "YouTube and a lot of intuition."
"When I moved out here I figured out rent prices and got this trailer and built this immediately," he says in the film during a walkthrough of his living and working spaces.
Aspen multimedia artist Linda Girvin tracks her transition from traditional abstract photography into recent work manipulating images of dead birds by moving them on scanners to create glitchy, large-format images.
"The scanner is my painter and the birds are my paint," she says in the film.
"Colorado Artbeat" also profiles hyper-real painter Gregory Block of Steamboat Springs and metal sculptor Joshua Goss of Greeley, who makes metal sculptures that mirror geological formations.
The project traces its roots back 13 years, when Chris Macdonald made five profiles of Aspen-area artists for Plum TV. The concept for the passion project stuck with him as he and Heather launched FuseMedia.
In 2017, following the annual "Art of the State" exhibition in Arvada, which brings together top artists from across Colorado, the Macdonalds scouted for potential subjects from the show.
They looked to find diversity in the artists' medium, region, age and gender, while looking for artwork that inspired them
"It came down to passion and what spoke to us," Heather Macdonald said. "What I see is art on top of art — it's his art as a filmmaker depicting artists and their stories." They crowd-funded for the film through an IndieGoGo campaign and by selling donated art from the subjects by the documentary.
The Macdonalds are now hoping to continue the project, aiming to make another "Colorado Artbeat" with a new crop of artists. They're seeking more traditional financing this time, though, looking for grants.
The pair shot footage with artists over the course of Aspen's spring offseason in 2017, edited it in the fall of that year and then began the process of submitting it to the statewide PBS affiliate (in the meantime, they also screened "Colorado Artbeat" at The Launchpad in Carbondale).
"The long-range goal from the beginning was to air on Rocky Mountain PBS," Macdonald said. "It feels great to see it finally come to fruition.