Celebrating the spirit of snow
Seasons come, and seasons go. But in Colorado, there’s a special enthusiasm reserved solely for winter, which is treated like an art form in and of itself.
Hence, the Art of Winter — the urban festival of art and design intended to engage community members in a comparable fashion to Denver Startup Week. Now in its fourth iteration, the 2014 event — which kicked off last Friday Jan. 24 at Tryst Lounge and runs through Feb. 8 — has grown from its original two exhibits on Larimer Square to nearly a dozen programs, panels, parties and more, stretched to the Denver Theatre District.
“AoW celebrates the culture of snow and all that it inspires,” says Chuck Sullivan, co-founder of Something Independent, noting programs that “open doors and open eyes to the doers and makers of Colorado … [the] Creativity, innovation, adventuring and entrepreneurship,” associated with the snow sports industry.
Since the inaugural affair in 2011, “The idea of expanding from a panel discussion series focusing on the snow-industry, to a broader platform that would incorporate both business and cultural communities in downtown, emerged,” Sullivan says.
“Just blocks from the Colorado Convention Center and the [SnowSports Industries America (SIA)] Show, and home to many locally owned, independent shops and restaurants, Larimer Square [has always been] the perfect backdrop … [and has been] instrumental, a true partner since day one,” he says.
While there is no formalized partnership between “North America’s largest snow industry trade show” and AoW, Sullivan says SIA was a huge catalyst, with more than 20,000 industry leaders that descend on Denver for the Show.
But for AoW “It’s all about being accessible,” Sullivan says. “”It speaks to Denver. You can land in this city and anyone you meet is willing to open doors for you.”
Rolling throughout the two weeks is the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Makers Showcase at Row 14 Bistro & Wine Bar near the Convention Center. The gallery of gear from local craft ski and snowboard companies allows established big brands and those perhaps lacking resources to pull off a full-blown exhibit at the Snow Show.
Colorado-based Ski/Board Brands include:
- Grace Skis – Denver, CO
- Icelantic Skis — Denver, CO
- Never Summer Snowboards — Denver
- Venture Snowboards — Silverton
- Unity Snowboards —Silverthorne
- Meier Skis, Glenwood Springs
- Powder Factory Skis, Silver Plume
- Folsom Skis, Denver
- Ski Logik, Breckenridge
- ScottyBob, Silverton
“For the industry, here in town, events like these really showcase the people who are doing great things,” says Icelantic Skis’ Team Manager Scotty VerMerris, who attended Tuesday evening’s Colorado Women of Winter panel at CU-Denver. “It’s such a great opportunity for them to talk and share their stories … it really encourages us all to improve, look at the development of homegrown products and brands and to help make the industry and platform thrive by sharing ideas.”
Icelantic is participating in both AoW and the Snow Show.
“Art has always been a huge part of our brand and so it’s fun to see how the industry continues to embrace that,” says Ben Anderson, founder of Icelantic Skis. Identifying the link between design and the snow sports industry, he added, “We were really the first people to put original paintings on skis.”
Sullivan noted that SIA is working to make the Show more accessible to smaller brands and non-members. New to SIA’s lineup is Craft @ SIA, a display dedicated to small, independent handcrafted snow sports manufacturers nationwide.
Some of the other local organizations that have supported AoW with programming, promotion and sponsorships include:
- Visit Denver
- Larimer Arts Association
- Denver Chalk Art Festival
- Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
- Colorado Creative Industries
- Colorado Brewers Guild
“It’s really cool for us all to see two different industries, the art and creative sector and the outdoor winter sports industry, come together,” says Kelly Manning, state director of the SBCD. “We work with a lot of creative industries. [AoW] helps us get the world out to small businesses on the creative side. We try to spread the word that we can offer them additional help.”