One of the many things people learned during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic is the importance of the arts. So many turned to them, regardless of the medium or mode, for a sense of relief or a feeling of connection. Which means it shouldn’t be entirely surprising that people of all ages looked to expand their own artistic interests during the pandemic.
That was the experience of Skye Barker Maa, who started a theater company called Factory Five Five at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas St. in Aurora, in January of 2020. So much so that she’s expanding it into an arts collective to provide a place for artists interested in fashion, film, theater and photography to learn.
“This [growth] arose out of the explosion of our theater program during COVID, which happened because when things were reopening, we were one of the few offering programs in person,” Barker Maa said. “Part of what happened is we had all this space, and so we were able to roll all these other things into it.”
The new situation finds the fashion academy portion of Factory Five Five opening in Stanley Marketplace, and a black box theater located at 10255 E. 25th Ave. A full line-up of classes for children, teens and adults will begin on Monday, Sept. 13, and the theater will be kicking off an experiential production of “Daisy’s Day Speakeasy” on Friday, Sept. 10. Presented by Bizarre Café, the show runs through Saturday, Sept. 25, and features live music, performances by jk-co dance and cocktails from Factory Five Five’s Velvet Underground Coffee Shop and Bar.
On the Factory Fashion Academy side of things, there will be classes for children, teens and adults. But they won’t be the kinds of classes where students sew pillows or something like that.
“We’ve really assembled the fashion avengers - a dream team of fashion designers in different areas,” Barker Maa said. “It’s been taking things to a really wonderful and unexpected level. And at the end of the session, we do a full fashion show, with lights, tech and everything.”
No matter how people want to create, Factory Five Five aims to be a place where they can spread their wings and work with others.
“What I love about the Factory is we have so much running, and students of all ages can get hands-on experience. I love that circular energy of everyone being in the same space,” Barker Maa said. “With such a diverse amount of classes running and enough space to work together, people are welcome to come and hang out with us and create.”
Find out more and sign up for classes at www.FactoryFiveFive.com.
Pay your respects at America’s COVID-19 Memorial
Back in April, I wrote about The Biennial of the Americas — an organization headquartered in Denver that aims to develop collaboration and partnership across borders and highlight Colorado as a state that is deeply connected to the Americas — seeking submissions for its “Americas COVID-19 Memorial.”
On Friday, Sept. 3, the exhibition will open at Museo de las Americas, 861 Santa Fe Drive in Denver. It features works from 21 commissioned artists and award winners of the “Americas COVID-19 Memorial.” From 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 16, the museum and organization will host “ConnectArte: Biennial Curator & Artist Talk,” a discussion of the power of art to assist in working through grief.
Visit https://museo.org/ for more information.
CinemaQ tells the world’s stories through film
Denver Film’s annual CinemaQ Film Festival returns to highlight LGBTQ+ stories from the world over. The festival begins on Thursday, Aug. 26 and runs through Sunday, Aug. 29. The program will be available through Denver Film’s virtual platform. The platform allows for viewers to stream their selected films on Roku, AppleTV or their computer or mobile device.
The festival started in 2009 and has grown in the ensuing decade to international submissions from filmmakers. Some highlights from the festival include “Building A Bridge,” and “No Straight Line.” Get details and passes at www.denverfilm.org.
Clarke’s Concert of the Week — Colin Hay at the Arvada Center
Stepping away from a popular band and starting something under your own name must be a daunting prospect. Scotland’s Colin Hay no doubt understands that better than most. When Australian band Men at Work (of which he was the frontman) dissolved, Hay went on to build a solid solo career for himself.
Just this summer Hay released a covers album, “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself,” that features some of his favorite tracks (and honestly, some of mine) - “Wichita Lineman,” “Ooh La La” and “Can’t Find My Way Home.” In support of the record, he’ll be performing at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 1.
Information and tickets can be secured at https://arvadacenter.org/events/colin-hay.
Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at Clarke.Reader@hotmail.com.