Silverthorne promotes arts and culture with plan to revitalize downtown |

Silverthorne promotes arts and culture with plan to revitalize downtown

Officials from the town of Silverthorne set up the "Before I Die" exhibit. The art display, inspired by artist Candy Chang from New Orleans, will be featured at the Silverthorne Outlets Welcome Center from Oct. 1-4, where it will be on display for the public input meeting. From there, it will be at Pumpkinfest Oct. 11, Silverthorne Recreation Center Nov. 8-10 and at the Celebrations Around the World festival on Nov. 19.
Courtesy town of Silverthorne |

more info

Community meeting

What: Gather feedback from residents on Silverthorne’s arts and culture projects

When: Thursday, Oct. 1, 4–6 p.m.

Where: Next door to the Outlets at Silverthorne Welcome Center, in the old Adidas store location

More information: (970) 262-7396

Before I Die exhibit schedule

Oct. 1–4: Outlets Welcome Center

Oct. 11: Pumpkinfest

Nov. 8–10: Silverthorne Recreation Center

Nov. 19: Celebrations Around the World event

In the few minutes it took to walk from the Silverthorne Recreation Center to the pavilion and back, two different women stopped Joanne Cook and Blair McGary to share ideas on how to advance the arts culture in the town.

“People are excited,” laughs Cook as we step back into her office.

She and McGary, both Silverthorne officials, glow enthusiasm as they speak about their project to promote vibrancy in the town with exhibits, theater and live music.

Over the past decade, Silverthorne’s council members and officials have been working to create an identity for the town through an urban renewal plan for a revitalized downtown core. The primary area of focus is Fourth Street, which could connect a brewery with the recreation center, pavilion, town hall and a brand new performance space for the Lake Dillon Theatre Company.

“We have great parks, we have great trails, we have connectivity to (national forest), we have an awesome recreation center, we have some new businesses coming into town, but what Silverthorne has been lacking is a town core — that area where everyone goes to eat at a restaurant, hang out, shop,” said Cook, the recreation and culture director for the town.

The cultural landscape that the town creates will be just as important as infrastructure, zoning and design standards. And that’s where the arts initiative comes in.

In 2013, the Economic Development Advisory Committee recommended the town use the arts as a tool to promote growth and form an identity. Now, as the town works to renovate the city center, Cook, along with McGary, the town’s pavilion and marketing coordinator, have been tasked with the project of sparking an arts and culture presence. Cook said town representatives decided to find creative ways to implement art in the spaces that are currently available, such as possibly using space in what will eventually be the Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s new home to showcase local art.

“There’s a lot of potential, and the potential is extremely exciting,” Cook said. “Over the last 10 years or so, our leaders and town council have been putting a lot of thought into what it takes to bring vibrancy to our town core and to bring identity to our town.”

The town is holding a community meeting to gain feedback from residents on these efforts on Oct. 1, from 4–6 p.m. at the old Adidas store space next to the Silverthorne Welcome Center. The event will feature informational stations for the sharing of ideas, with refreshments and complimentary beer and wine.

“We are reaching out to the community and our businesses and local artists, and we’re saying, ‘What does arts in Silverthorne mean to you?’” Cook said. “What we choose, we want to be meaningful. We want it to resonate with people, be meaningful and we want it to be about Silverthorne.”


One of the first projects on display to engage the community is the “Before I Die” exhibit, inspired by artist Candy Chang from New Orleans. The art project offers residents and visitors an opportunity to not only view the display, but also interact with it.

“(Candy) lost someone very close to her, and through that, started reflecting on her life and what it meant,” Cook said, “which is something that many of us do. She also looked at the public spaces in her neighborhood, and there’s some dilapidated buildings in her neighborhood, so she one day, on a whim with her friends, painted the side of one of these buildings with chalkboard paint, and stenciled on there: ‘Before I die, I want to’ — blank. The community came out and filled it up, and it was very inspiring.”

A replica of Chang’s project was set up between Red Buffalo Coffee & Tea and the Silverthorne Pavilion, with the words, “Before I die …” and “Antes de morir …” along the top, with spaces below to fill in the blanks. After just two days, the board had been almost completely filled with goals and dreams, including “Save a life,” “Visit all 7 continents” and “Eat blood oranges in Italy.” The board will be at the Silverthorne Outlets Welcome Center from Oct. 1-4, where it will be on display for the public input meeting. From there, it will be at Pumpkinfest Oct. 11, Silverthorne Recreation Center Nov. 8-10 and at the Celebrations Around the World festival on Nov. 19.

“It’s a community art project that brings people together,” Cook said. “It’s a mechanism for people who wouldn’t normally bump into each other — they cross paths, and they are standing here looking at this question, which is a question that’s really universal to all of us. … The question is not about death; the question is about life, and what’s meaningful to you.”

The project is temporary, giving people the opportunity to come together, ponder a question and then it’s gone. So far, Cook said, it has created an energy around it, with some people taking the time to think and others immediately picking up a piece of chalk.

“What my kids wrote was also really inspiring, to see what a child would write with the same question posed to them,” she said.

McGary said they choose the project because of the reach it would have on the community.

“This project was so attractive to us is because it reached out to all demographics, ages, economic status, all of that stuff,” she said. “Across the board it doesn’t matter how old or young you are, or how much money you make or you don’t make, what language you speak, you can relate to this question.”

Cook said she hopes the board shows the community that art lives here, and they now have a space to show it off.

“This project did not cost a lot of money or take a lot of time, yet I think it’s going to connect our community in a profound way,” she said. “It makes a statement that hey, we are starting something cool here, and you should look around at your community and start embracing that, because that’s what arts can do. It speaks so differently to every person yet it brings us together in that way.”

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