Sequestered in an apartment with only their imagination and a bottle of wine, local creatives JD Sell and Jasmine Dillavou searched for a name for their idea — sort of like a book club, but you definitely don’t need to bring a book. And so, Non Book Club Book Club came to life in February 2017 showing the best ideas are often elegantly simple.
Sell and Dillavou, both graduates of the UCCS visual arts program, wanted NBCBC to fill the void they felt found after they left school and began missing the built-in forum of class discussions with other artists. The club provides a space for artists of any discipline to use other artists as resources to both learn and teach, share projects, ideas, inspirations and ask questions.
“We both had this post-grad longing for in-depth discussion with our peers and other creatives in town,” Sell, an artist, says. “[NBCBC] is the embodiment of what we all need from other artists but might be too shy or un-involved to ask.”
In practice, that meant organizing a monthly meeting of Colorado Springs creatives — everyone from artists and musicians to filmmakers and chefs — where a usually fluid discussion heads in many directions, though there can be guideposts of certain questions or video prompts. The goal is to create an open and relaxed platform for discussion, and to provide points of connection between everything from food-making to identity. Sell and Dillavou have also piloted a series of artist critique nights, separate from the regular monthly meetings, to allow the evening spotlight to shine on one artist at a time.
“We get a good range of interest and professions that allows everyone to cross boundaries and engage different individuals that you may not have the opportunity to on a daily basis,” Sell says. “Different approaches add a greater dimension to the dialogue, and can give us creative ways of problem solving.”
Averaging eight to 12 attendees per meeting, the group quickly outgrew Sell’s personal studio space — now meeting in the Knights of Columbus Hall, just west of Penrose Library in Downtown Colorado Springs. But the NBCBC has gone mobile, too.
For the first six months of 2018, “NBCBC On Tour” will host meetings at organizations throughout town, hoping to spark conversations and opportunities by and for local creatives.
“[On Tour events] serve as a subtle networking opportunity for creatives to get out there a little more,” Sell says. “They give us a chance to look at other people that are working hard and engage with established entities.”
Sell says it’s critical for artists to take an interest in and help nurture their community, and to pursue opportunities to influence the development of a city’s creative scene, especially.
“We can help shape what this community looks like and be a part of something larger than our own career,” he says. “It’s a unique opportunity to build together.”
With its one-year anniversary this month, the NBCBC is taking steps to expand its reach with more On Tour events and an upcoming programming partnership with the Pikes Peak Arts Council, though the details on the latter are still in flux.
“I’m just trying to ride the wave and help it continue to gather steam … just keeping the fire alive,” Sell says.
NBCBC meetings are the third Sunday of each month; the “On Tour” series continues Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. at Welcome Fellow, 616 N. Tejon St.
Originally written by Jonathan Toman of the Cultural Office and published in the Colorado Springs Independent Abstractions section on February 9, 2018.