F A L L
3963 Tennyson Street Denver, CO 80212 970.682.6888 thewaybackdenver.com
FLORA F A L L
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FAUNA T E A M
Designers Carlee Henderson
Layout Designer/ Publishing Director
Denver Is In The Details 6
Alex Jump 8
Photographers Ash Taylor Kelly Leggett Danielle Webster Alexandré Brexa Hoosen Kate Jacobson Sierra Voss Molly O’Connell Wes Magyar
CONTENT Note from the Editor:
Editor-in-Chief/ Art Director
E D I T O R I A L
@thegutsandglory @keleggettphoto @electriclady_shoots @alliehoo @kate_rosee @sierravossphotography @molly_o_connell @wesmagyar
Joseph Findeiss 18
Ignitable Fuel: Alyson Khan
A F L O R A | | F A U N A Feature: Casey James Prestwood
Contributing Writers Jahla Seppanen Kate Kirkwood Dana Lapinel Michelle Johnson Lindsay Graham Jess Draper
@ballabacon @katekirkwood @danaellapin @mishisafish @lindsaylouise_ @jessedrapes
Animal Handmade: Ava Goldberg
Benefactors Middleman Bar, Becky Miller, Marika Evanger, The Way Back, Scott Young, Doug Kacena,
The Ramble Hotel, Holistic Salon, Pablo’s Coffee, Death & Co., Hi-Dive, Lady Jane, Zeppelin Station
To those who’ve donated and contributed to the success of this zine publication, thank you.
Grace Penhale and Krista Garcia 68
VOLUME 3 ISSUE 2
Listen to this issue’s podcast and see additional film at: www.florafaunazine.com Collaborate with us! Follow F LO R A | | FAU N A on Instagram: @__flora_fauna__ Email: email@example.com
© All rights reserved.
FLORA || FAUNA is a Denver based zine publication highlighting local creatives and artisans. All material may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the consent of Editor-in-Chief Carlee Henderson.
a note from the editor. ‘D e n v e r is in the Details’
It reminds me of Rene Magritte’s 1937 surrealist painting, “Not to Be Reproduced”. Amongst all standards set with conformity, tones of unique originality come through in their mass produced environment.
Many have heard the expression, “The Devil is in the details,” but few know its true origin. The idiom itself refers to catching hidden elements in the details of things that would otherwise seem simple and straightforward at first glance. I started to notice myself using it more frequently from recent situations surrounding quite a diverse group of people in my community.
Every article also captures the master and their craft intertwined between reality and a dream. The meticulous details that go into each craft is not for the hobbies or the past-times. These are career driven artisans growing, learning, and confronting not only the skillsets but themselves in the process.
I believe this heightened awareness stemmed from previous curatorial work at a contemporary art museum where every artist’s exhibition portrayed metaphorical hidden meanings in their creations. Our objective for this issue was clear: Seek hidden details in various artisans’ works, dig up darker nuances, and liberate the truths of mastering one’s craft.
This issue is also a celebration of teamwork. Within this issue, we worked with 6 writers, 8 photographers and 2 designers all with different styles coming together on one theme. This has been an accomplishment of upmost paramount to me seeing so much creative freedom and hard work come to life.
Like the contemporary art of our generation, the decision to take more time and effort to complete the unexpected visceral meanings is voluntary. Appreciating the mastered craft of ones career is also voluntary.
The theme gives credit to the small details, but it’s also the overall picture of courage to create in the first place that should be rewarded and recognized. Art comes in many shapes and forms, but it is up to the creator to have the courage and belief in themselves to share.
Each article highlights a person of common professions. Libations, coffee, painting, music, leather goods, hair. All standard necessities in our day and age yet each personality behind these stories are leaders and blind believers in originality, progress and unique circumstance.
“Not to Be Reproduced”, Rene Magritte 1937
Appreciate the process.
alex jump: witchy woman by Dana Lapinel P h o t o g r a p h y b y D a n i e l l e W e b ster
It’s also a story of mysticism — if you put it out in the universe, the universe will provide. Jump knew that (New York City’s) Death & Co. would be opening their second location in Denver, so she decided that she would make the move to the Mile High City in February 2017 in the hopes of making a connection to get that coveted role.
When I first started this article about an up and coming bartender, the last place I thought this conversation would go is one of self-care. If you’re looking for the dark, gritty details of bar life *spoiler alert* it’s not in Alex Jump’s universe. This is the story of a woman from down South, who first fell in love with the hospitality industry while working in the romance capital of the world at an Enoteca in Florence, Italy.
A month later, she ran into Alex Day, partner of Death & Co., at the Southwest Finals Speedrack Competition while Day was working as the judge and Jump won by a landslide. It’s evident that Jump is a modern day witch, an alchemist slinging concoctions and making that magic happen.
When Jump returned back to the states, her career started as a barback in Chattanooga, and she’s been behind the bar ever since.
Why Denver? “I have family that lives here, I visited for about 5 years before finally making the move out here. I also knew that Death & Co would be opening their second outpost here, so I decided that I would move here and work my ass off to get the Bar Manager position (and then I did).” What is Death & Company and why have you wanted to work there? “Death & Co is a bar that has been open for nearly twice as long as I’ve been working behind bars. Their influence in the bar community is massive, and for as long as I have worked in hospitality I have looked up to the owners and lead bartenders of Death & Co. “Everything about the company from how they develop menus and cocktail recipes to their efforts to improve the lives of their employees is all things that I admire and value. Alex and Dave have continued to inspire me throughout my career, and so it was kind of a no-brainer when I decided that I wanted to work for them. “I also have some serious goals for myself, career-wise, and I know that Death & Co is growing as a company in a way that will allow me to grow & develop with them. I want to live in different cities, and I especially want to live in Europe, and those are all things that are in the realm of possibility with the company — in due time.” What do you think draws people into Death & Co? “Our reputation is definitely a huge draw for people. I’ve found that even people who are somewhat removed from the food & beverage industry have heard of the bar. (continued...)
“We are known for great cocktails, served in a welcoming environment, by incredibly skilled & knowledgeable servers and bartenders. It helps that NYC’s East Village location has worked to uphold these standards for nearly 12 years now, and we hold ourselves here in Denver to those same standards.” Cool decor, fancy bottles, great cocktails — what is a lesser known detail that creates a good experience? “Lighting. Our Lead Bartender in New York, Matt Belanger, said it perfectly the other day. People go to bars that they feel good in. No one feels sexy, and no one wants to drink in a super bright, poorly lit bar. Unless of course, it’s a dive, but that’s a different story.”
Describe some of the drinkers you see. • The super enthusiastic, non-industry drinkers: “We have a lot of guests who come to the bar because of what they’ve heard about Death & Co or the press they’ve seen about us. Sometimes they even have the Cocktail Book and have been making drinks out of it at home for the last four years. They’re always so excited to join us for drinks, and often they order an old Death & Co cocktail from the book or one that they had once at the East Village location. “Once we even had someone write on their check that they had been waiting years to have a Death & Co cocktail. Providing people with that kind of experience is awesome.” • The person who has no idea what bar they’re at and just wants a regular run-of-the-mill bar experience: “They’re actually super great too because the person who has no idea what bar they’re at and is just looking for a decent draft pilsner are a great reprieve from the guest who has a lot of questions and maybe requires a little more attention than most guests.” • The Bartender from another city who is visiting Denver and broke away from their family obligations to come to the bar: “They’re awesome. The hospitality community isn’t huge, so often times when we have a bartender at the bar from another city, we typically have friends in common in some form or fashion. It’s fun to catch up and make connections of who you both know and to get to show off the bar through the lens of someone else who understands our world. Usually, they’ll have a cocktail or two and then switch to something like a beer and a shot or just a neat pour of a spirit they really like.”
Bartending is not a one size fits all type of job — what do you think makes or breaks a bartender?
“So every day at work I am pushing myself to be more comfortable with having conversations with strangers, especially small talk.”
“Three Things: 1. Being willing and able to let go of the day-to-day bullshit. 2. Remembering that first and foremost we are not here for ourselves. 3. Taking care of yourself.
What do you mean by “taking care of yourself?” “It’s almost like a conundrum of our industry. We’re here to take care of other people. So much so that most of us forget that we also need to take care of ourselves.
“All three things are really hard. It can start to feel a little monotonous every day serving other people. If you forget that that is 100% the reason why we are here doing this job, it can almost become unbearable at times. If you aren’t able to shake off a shitty customer or a shitty tip, then you’ll never make it long term behind the bar.
“This industry can really take a toll on your body if you aren’t careful — late nights, alcohol always around, often eating not super great food because you don’t have time for full meals. “There are some liquor brands nowadays that are pushing bartenders to take care of themselves in different ways like paying for us to take yoga classes or even become amateur boxers (a program I’m currently enrolled in; thanks Cazadores!).”
“At the end of the night, none of those things matter. All that matters is the people who you were able to give an incredible experience while they sat across from you at the bar.” Is your bartending persona different from your day-to-day Alex Jump persona? Or what’s your bartender alter ego? “Not really, I’m pretty much the same Alex behind the bar or not. I’d say the only difference is that I’m generally a pretty introverted person when it comes to talking to strangers. (continued...)
www.deathandcompany.com @deathandco @axljump www.theramblehotel.com @theramblethotel
Best little touch you can add to a drink?
“Holding yourself to a higher standard and putting your greatest effort forward in everything you do, that I think is the best touch you can add to a drink. Having care and respect for what you do isn’t the same as being pretentious too, and I think it’s important to recognize that difference.
“That’s a tough question to answer. I think the most important thing about a drink is the care that a person puts into making it. It’s why craft cocktail bars are different from your run of the mill dive bar (both of which I love). If you’re doing something that you’re passionate about, then everything you do should matter. Every step, every interaction, every ingredient you put in the glass, they all matter.
“In an interview once, Sasha Petraske was speaking about this topic — about what it means to work with integrity and care — and he said something that has resonated with me throughout my time behind the bar, so much so that I got it tattooed on my arm after he passed away...
“Sometimes it can feel like taking the hard route to always work with such care and precision, and trust me that can be a really daunting task. To admit your mistakes, even when no one is watching, that takes a lot of integrity. Maybe your guest wouldn’t really notice that you a different whiskey than what they ordered in their Old Fashioned… but at the end of the day, you would know. (continued...)
“It’s not a question of skill, it’s a question of character.” That is how I choose to make drinks.” //
AL CHEMIST The dark art of coffee roasting by the demitasse devil of Pablo’s Coffee, Joseph Findeiss. By Jahla Seppanen Photography by Alexandré Brexa Hoosen
By decree of his name, some dark celestial power decided Joseph “Joe” Findeiss would be destined to sacrifice his life to the art of coffee. As Head Roaster of the homegrown 303 coffee shop Pablo’s Coffee, Joe is the underground monster hunched in fiery alchemy, ensuring the gorgeous and rich cup you order from the barista appears as if by magic… and tastes just as
Those coffee crazed and caffeine hungry, gather ‘round and learn the dark art of roasting by the demitasse devil of Denver himself.
How do you scientifically score a coffee?
How do you take your coffee? “Black.”
“There’s no science, it’s all alchemy. Scoring is broken down into categories with numerical scoring designations based on their aroma, flavor, sweetness, bitterness, balance, body, etc. We must identify and describe these elusive olfactory and gustatory notes in a sensory description lexicon that are associated directly with coffee in a hierarchical fashion.”
Many assume a coffee is created in the 5 minutes it’s ordered. How much blood and sweat goes into a single cup? “This can take years, tracing seed-to-cup, as coffee shrubs take 3 - 4 years to bear coffee cherries. At Pablo’s, it begins with a smattering of green samples. Samples are roasted on our Quest m3 then allowed to rest a day or two before we splay them out on the cupping table and taste each one. The objective is to decide whether or not we want to purchase an entire or partial lot. Once purchased, we develop a production/roasting curve for each origin. After cuppings, roast curve development, all the calibration and recalibration, the coffee is ready for consumption by the public… almost. There’s a period in which it needs to “de-gas” where the beans are off-gassing carbon dioxide from the chemical changes that occur during roasting.”
Froot Loops, chocolate, and soup all have their rightful place? “Let’s say we have an natural process Ethiopia, we look for berry fruit, chocolate, a syrupy body, and sweetness. With a Kenya, we look for something reminiscent of a rich tomato bisque. We had a surprising Bali once that drank like tropical fruit bubble gum. While cupping or discussing a coffee, we tend to stray from the protocoled industry vernacular. We might dip a spoon in a coffee that tastes like Froot Loops, Earl Grey, a hoppy IPA, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch and these descriptors are much more accessible to the masses.”
Can you handle drinking diner coffee?
“Yes , it has an important time and place.” 20
Explain the dark alchemy of ‘cupping.’ “Coffee cupping is the equivalent to wine or beer tasting; coffee origins (region + farm) are treated not unlike wines from specific vineyards. • We set up three bowls per roasting coffee sample, each with appropriately measured weight of the sample roast. Three bowls provide a wider chance of discovering defects. • The coffee is ground and each quality grader takes shallow, short inhalations and records the characteristics of the aroma. • The grounds are wet with near boiling water, a la cowboy coffee, and the practice of sniffing bowl by bowl and annotating repeat. During this process, the coffee grounds form a crust on the surface of the water, which in the next step, is “broken”. • The coffee crust is broken with a cupping spoon (similar in shape to a soup spoon but deeper) and the sniffing and jotting resume. • Remaining floating grounds are removed and cupping spoons are dipped. Golden liquid is raised to the lips and wild and violent slurping ensues. Slurping aerates the coffee over the palette, covering as much as possible in order to derive a flavor profile. • Take several passes through each coffee on the table, allowing the coffees to cool while flavor and sweetness develops or fades.”
Based off these cupping notes, you design a unique roasting spell for each origin?
of transformation and chemistry. Essentially, we apply heat to excite molecules and alter organic compounds in a reductive process that alters the chemical makeup of organic compounds through pyrolysis that when combined with near boiling water produces a pleasing and restorative elixir.”
“Roasting is absolutely where the we endow coffee with magic. Our roasting curves are like wellrehearsed incantations, cast with precise measure and intention. Each of the roasters knows what can and will happen to a batch of coffee if one of those measures is missed or arrives too late: mediocrity, or worse. However, some green coffee is beyond the reach of our magic; as Gerhard would say, “you can only spend so much time trying to polish a turd.”
Pablo’s has created a spellbook of sorts for its beans, is that right? “The catalogue was conceived as marketing collateral to facilitate the transmission of information on our seasonal coffee offerings to wholesale clients. The half letter, multi-page booklet (vs a standard single printed page handout) afforded me the opportunity to play with layout design, aesthetics, thematic content, and photography while simultaneously conveying much more detailed information about Pablo’s Coffee.”
Should a roaster be part derelictpart sorcerer?
“Coffee roasting is an esoteric artform exclusive to a select few of social outcasts sequestered in dark cavernous chambers and moreover, approach the act from a perspective
Would you consider yourself a madman?
â€œTrying to differentiate verbally the subtleties of flavor between dried cherries and pomegranate is potentially maddening.â€? 24
www.pabloscoffee.com @pabloscoffee @josephfindeiss
ALYSON KHAN’S IGNITABLE FUEL By Kate Kirkwood Photography by Sierra Voss Molly O’Connell Wes Magyar
‘Magi’, Alyson Khan Photo by Wes Magyar
LYSON KHAN exudes the warmth of a long-known friend and her stunning hard edge paintings in their complex simplicity evoke the same knowing and connectivity. Her home is immaculately bright and lived in - with imprinted traces of her family and their lively miniature Ewok-ish dog and colorful mid-century modern, textured adornments. As you step down into Alyson’s studio, the cool-tiled, spacious yet narrow room is enlivened with spiny succulents, neatly organized paint-spattered tools, and stacked with dozens of issues of interior design magazines and books on Dalí, Anne Truitt, and Joseph Campbell. She is petite and postured next to her large-scale pieces that are reminiscent of late Art Deco, the occult, and raw nature. Her largest yet is that of the recently finished ‘Bloodline’ which she began on the Summer Solstice during a heavily contemplative period of unknown futures and emotive revelation. Alyson contemplates and cares for every angle and possibility to be discovered through her process, and she begins each piece by journaling and “asking a question that needs to be answered or a mantra that she wants to manifest”. As an artist living and creating in ever-mutable and vivacious Denver, she is encouraged that local clientele is so responsive to artwork living in the home in addition to existing in a gallery space. With a less formal background in art, Alyson has been free to explore multiple passions and reign them into “alchemical device” - each painting and artistic process has a “common goal of transmutation through the works”.
She is enthralled with how angles and words will create challenges and the way ideas join together in nuances and meaning. Alyson revisits the drafts of both journal and canvas to use fewer, more intentional words and brushstrokes to convey the message of each work - and it’s exactly how she is able to harness her craft through painting.
‘Eight Strings’, Alyson Khan Photo by Molly O’Connell
What have you felt is advantageous about being a primarily self-taught artist? Did your upbringing or background prompt the nuance of angles and lines that are characteristic of your large scale, hard edge paintings? “I think being a self-taught artist is advantageous in that I have approached painting on my own terms, with little criticism or preconceived ideas about what makes ‘good’ art. I’m terribly critical of my own work and do care deeply about how my work is received, but I wasn’t restricted by typical
rules about when it’s ok to show your work. I didn’t hold back from showing my work early on and that initial positive feedback was instrumental in fueling my life as an artist. I think if I had gone to art school, I would have been too critical to put my stuff out there. Also, I think I probably would have gotten burnt out on the artsy, shartsy life of art school. I actually started out college in the engineering program at CU Boulder. Maybe if I had gotten a fine arts degree, I would now be a self-taught, jerry-rigging engineer instead of a selftaught, jerry-rigging painter.”
“As far as the nuance of angles and lines that are characteristic of my paintings, I am not sure how this came about. I know that I need to order things, put them in their place in my mind and soul as a way of managing emotions and thoughts. “I’ve always been math-minded. I have a sort of formulaic way I do things in the world and in the studio. I can see that the hardedge style that I am attracted to makes clear distinctions between colors which, for me, represent emotions and essences and connections. I use deliberate lines to graph or map the abstract and create a visual architecture for the otherwise nebulous experiences of being in this life.” What does having a physical space to make art mean for you especially that it’s in your home? “Having a physical space in which to paint is absolutely necessary for working. The best days are when I am working. It’s my respite, my sanity, my altar, my meditation. I have always had a studio or at least a dedicated space- no matter how small or badly lit- for making since I was 19. I get wonky and weird if I don’t stay connected to the flow. If I go for too long without getting in the studio, I’m a real mess. It’s a wonderful thing and also a monster.” Are there questions and themes, or even rituals you find yourself exploring more often than others? “In my work I am mostly dealing with my own emotions, my relationships to other people and the divine. I start a lot of pieces by literally writing on the canvas about what’s on my mind or in my heart. I try to capture the most minimal, mantra-like words and make a tangled, scribbled, backwards, overlapping mess as
a start for making a structure for the otherwise nebulous. “The ritual aspect of my process is in working with the first marks and gradually building, layer-by-layer, these arrangements of shapes, color, line, washes and stripes to manufacture a magic picture. I’m imbuing pretend occult symbols with meaning. The canvas becomes altar-like— an intentional space where things are placed carefully at the proper angle, with the right openings, and the indications of where to focus. (continued...)
Left: ‘Nude Bars’, Alyson Khan Photo by Wes Magyar
Above: Photo by Sierra Voss
What are you currently reading, looking at, or listening to that fuels your creativity?
“The ritual aspect of my process is in working with the first marks and gradually building, layer-by-layer, these arrangements of shapes, color, line, washes and stripes to manufacture a magic picture. I’m imbuing pretend occult symbols with meaning. The canvas becomes altar-like—an intentional space where things are placed carefully at the proper angle, with the right openings, and the indications of where to focus.
“Most recently, these things: The book, Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott; The documentary, The Center Will Not Hold, about Joan Didion; Old and new issues of The World of Interiors Magazine. I always have music on in the studio. I also meditate regularly—to clear the mind and keep things in perspective.
But honestly, life itself is the most ignitable fuel.”
“I’m sort of exploring the ideology of religion in which, with the purest intentions, people genuinely believe in symbols and images and give up rational thought and skepticism. In doing so, they surrender to the possibility of having a mystical experience.”
Above in studio, right: ‘Bloodline’, Alyson Khan Photos by Sierra Voss
What do you appreciate about practicing your art in Denver? What challenges or inspires you within the community?
Is there anything you’re currently working on or excited about starting? “In the studio I am working on pieces for a show at Space Gallery in February 2019. I’m painting pretty large — 60 x 72 inch canvases, and will probably go larger. I love the challenge of the scale and the possibilities that open up with more space.
“My roots are in Denver, and it was such a sweet place to be a budding artist back in the late nineties and early 2000’s. I felt very supported and connected. It helped me get some confidence about showing my work and being out there. “As I’ve gotten older, I’m more of a homebody and primarily am working with buyers and art consultants all over the country now. However, more recently, I’m reconnecting locally and it’s really a beautiful thing.
“West Elm is featuring my work in their Holiday 2018 collection. I’m also, looking forward to the new partnerships and collaborations that are yet to come.” //
“Denver is an amazing, vibrant, friendly, legit city. I’m inspired (and challenged) by the rapid growth and appreciate the focus on design, multi-use, and enthusiasm for the arts.”
See Alyson Khan’s work at the forthcoming Space Gallery show in February 2019 and at www.alysonkhan.com | @_alysone
‘Five Cups’, Alyson Khan Photo by Wes Magyar
A F LO R A | | FAU N A F E A T U R E
CASEY JAMES PRESTWOOD & THE BURNING ANGELS By Lindsay Graham Photography by Ash Taylor Art Direction by Carlee Henderson Suits by Manuel Cuevas Manuel Couture - American Designs www.manuelcouture.com
// LIKE A RHINESTONE COWBOY Getting to go behind the scenes of what makes Casey James Prestwood is like taking a glimpse of the Nashville music scene in the 1960’s.
Possibly my favorite part about Casey is the stark contrast of his home life & stage life. At home, he looks like he did in his HRC days (where, for the record, he modeled for Levi’s). His home is welcoming, well decorated, and complete with his young daughters running around in their matching pajamas. So what is it about this old country-era sound that makes him transform on stage? From the moment I met Casey, I was willing to bet his path would be one less travelled.
Picture this: It’s 1962 and Porter Wagoner gets on stage in a can’t-be-missed peach colored suit studded in rhinestones from shoulders to calves. Sporting an early Nudie Cohn design, Porter gets a signature look, and Cohn begins his reign as American suit maker for the stars of country music (later making suits for other greats such as Elvis Presley and Gram Parsons). Stories like this are often less talked about than the music itself, of course, but for Casey, the small details surrounding the creation of this genre add to his love for the music.
How do you think your history in punk/rock music has impacted your music today? “I think it has affected the way we perform, our attitude, and how we choose our style. In my rock days, for the most part, it was T-Shirt and jeans. This certainly can work in country music too.
Experiencing fame at a young age with his punk rock band, Hot Rod Circuit, Casey experienced the life that he now looks back on with equal sense of euphoria and appreciation that those days are in the past. Today’s sound, featuring the Burning Angels, is authentically Casey-- a stunning collaboration of his past, present, and future to amplify an already intoxicatingly eclectic sound.
“However, I was always into the old country bands look. And the idea of almost a uniform that acts like a suit of armor, tunes your heart. I was more successful and able to reach a lot more fans playing more current rock sounding music when I was younger. Country music, or whatever you call the kind of music my band plays now, is really all I want to do now.”
“I was always into the
old country bands’ ‘look’
[and] the idea of almost a uniform that acts like
a suit of armor,
tunes your heart.”
Were you exposed to country music at a young age? Did this have an impact on the type of music you play today vs what you played in the beginning of your career?
Did Nudie Cohn & Manuel Cuevas play a big part in that? “I never had the honor of meeting Nudie. But I have a tremendous amount of respect for the family, and the brand. I was kind of collecting old Nudie’s, and that’s how I found Manuel Cuevas. I was finding myself musically at the time. I was sort of shedding my rock n roll skin, and starting a new look for myself.
“I certainly was. But not directly through my parents. They were more into the 60’s/70’s rock kind of stuff. My mom’s parents however, were into the really good stuff. Hank Williams, Porter Wagoner, Ray Price. I think I really didn’t appreciate their contributions to my musical tastes enough while they were still around.
“Manuel and I connected right away. Most of what I wear, and what the Burning Angels wear, are Manuel Cuevas designed looks. If I could credit anyone else other than myself and my band, it would be him. He’s a very talented, kind man. He made my black jacket in 2007.”
“In high school, I was mostly turned off by the country music that played on the radio. I was going to high school in Alabama, and listening to a lot of indie, obscure rock kind of stuff. There were divisions, in the groups of people, and the kinds of music they liked. I remember always thinking Dwight Yoakam was cool. But didn’t make any connections between other country at the time, and the kind of stuff I like now. It had changed.”
I know Gram Parsons & Porter Wagoner are a few of your biggest inspirations: Who are some musicians of today that you look up to? “Josh Berwanger, Zephiniah O’Hora, Cale Tyson, Superdrag, Doug Sahm.”
Did you always know you wanted to dress up and become “someone else” when you played music?
We briefly talked about the negative stigma surrounding country music. What do you bring to country that breaks the stigma?
“I enjoy a good show. I like to feel my music, dance... but also go into my own space world sometimes, too. I get into it more when I’m having a good time... and definitely feed on my surroundings.”
“A lot of the modern stuff just feels put on. I’m just trying to have a good time, and be myself.”
What are some of your favorite records in your [massive] collection? “I am a bit of a Willie Nelson Hog at the moment. All of his RCA LP’s, and the two Liberty are really great.” Do you think that the sounds of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, etc. are widely accepted in today’s musical scene? Is Denver a mecca for this niche? “As far as Willie... He crushes it out here. Him and Cash are mainly accepted by the mainstream. “Concerning Denver perhaps being a blossoming country scene, I think this. When I started playing Country in Colorado around 2006, the scene wasn’t as developed. Or at least the scene that was there, wasn’t ready for me. Maybe I wasn’t ready for them.
“But other than getting better through practicing our craft, I haven’t altered my vision much. I set out to play original country music, that lends itself to old Honky Tonk. A bit more specific and traditional to a 60’s style.
“There certainly were some cool country bands in Colorado at the time: Halden Woffard and The Hi-Beams, The RailBenders, Drag The River. (continued...)
“It seems in the past couple years, things have really started to come together, and there is bigger community, more bands, and a growing interest in what we do.” 48
Obviously your look and sound are a huge part of what makes you and your band so memorable. What small details make this possible?
“My black suit is all Manuel. My white suit is a Manuel Top, Maria Bangsgaard KoSter at NorthCountry Maiden made the pants. My Blue Suit is a vintage Nudie Suit. The Blue Shirt under is a Manuel. All of my hats I have made by Greeley Hat Works. All of boots are vintage.
“Shawn Ohler made my leather Guitar Strap. The White one I use on my acoustic. For a brief time Nudie Cohen’s family re-opened the shop and were taking custom orders for suits/clothing again. I got my rhinestone silver strap that is seen on my Blue electric guitar made by them during this time.
“We have had a lot of luck/kindness from a guy in Austin, Texas named Al Graham @ Keeping Country Real. The jean jackets were embroidered by Ft. Lonesome. Also out of Austin.” 49
What are your thoughts on the 60s and 70s way of life for not just country musicians, but people our age? Where did the dream of tapping into this time period come from? “The way of life back then...I couldn’t really know. I dig the sounds and styles. I’m an optimist mostly and like to things have progressed in other areas. I just followed my gut, and sang how I wanted. “Even though my music lends itself to older sounding country, I also don’t necessarily try and write just in that box. I love a good country shuffle clearly. Even though we sound like old country, I think there is a subtle different take on it. Acknowledging the basic roots of where this music comes from is an important ingredient when creating a sound like this. But I also want to make it accessible to people who aren’t familiar with what country music can be.” // www.caseyjamesprestwood.com @caseyjamesprestwood
ANIMAL HANDMADE By Michelle Johnson Photography by Kelly Leggett
At first glance, Animal Handmade’s embossed leather bags, clutches and wallets are undeniably beautiful. Each textured panel features a meticulous motif inspired by scenes from the natural world, like cranes in repose, pouncing leopards and starry night skies. But take a closer look and eerie intricacies begin to appear: the leopard is pouncing to escape from a tangle of rope; the crane is stabbing itself with its own beak; the constellations are falling from sky to earth. It’s this fine line between beauty and melancholy that fuels the metaphorical art of Ava Goldberg, the creative force behind Animal Handmade. Handcrafted out of a shared studio space in north Denver, each of Goldberg’s “animals” alludes to moments of internal struggle or tension. We sat down with the artist and maker to delve into the creative process and philosophy behind her work.
How did you discover your love for art and the handmade?
What are the highs and lows of your creative process?
“I think my parents planted the seed. My mother was an artist in everything she did; cooking dinner, designing clothes for the business, painting our portraits, loving. My dad was very capable and crafty. He built and hustled and made connections. I’m hoping to become a hybrid of the two of them in my work with Animal.”
“I usually have an idea or image slopping around in my head for a while. It may be a shape or concept or subject. Eventually it coagulates enough to be drawn. Then I draw about 100 terrible versions of it until I get mad and stuff it all away for awhile. Time passes and I return to try again. If I have that gut feeling described above and the idea catches, I draw another 100 versions until it’s right. From there it’s just tedious design work to get it ready for leather. The high is always when I form a bond with the piece. Then I’m as devoted as a mother to her baby. The low is virtually everything before, but I’m learning to embrace the fight.”
What is your design philosophy? “I can’t say I have one. I just have a feeling in my gut when an idea catches. It’s the hook that pulls me over the hump of disbelief and frustration. All of a sudden it breathes on its own and I’m merely running to keep up and help pull off the chrysalis. If I don’t feel this, it’s nearly impossible to finish an idea.”
You created this company from the ground up, mostly on your own. What has that experience been like?
Why did you choose leather as your medium?
“I’m not naturally a salesman or a frontman. I want to make the work and crawl back into my cave. But building a business from the beginning does not allow for that luxury. The most struggle I’ve experienced has been on account of my own resistance to grow into a new and undesired role. I had to make a conscious choice to expand parts of myself I didn’t think I had. This breakdown of identity has also been one of my biggest successes.”
“For no conscious reason. But now that I look back, I can see that it was to satisfy my desire to meld art and function. I love printmaking (my major in school) but paper is delicate and must be protected. I wanted my work to interact with hands and dirt and adventure. Leather can be a vehicle for the imagery and then evolve further by showing wear and marks of the user. This, to me, is an accidental bonus. I’m essentially collaborating with a stranger who’s expounding on the piece by adding their own patina.”
“this fear of emptiness and mystery is forever true...” 58
“I to ok this photo when I was 16 from my grandparent’s house in Cape Neddick, Maine. I’d spend my summers there working at the family lobster restaurant and getting in as much trouble as possible. This po ol was the scene of most of that trouble.”
“Limbs are from found and stolen sources.”
“The sewing machine is what sews nearly every Animal. His name is Ralph and he’s a stubborn bastard.
We love and fear him.”
“I took this photo when I was 16 from my grandparent’s house in Cape Neddick, Maine. I’d spend my summers there working at the family lobster restaurant and getting in as much trouble as possible. This pool was the scene of most of that trouble.”
“Limbs are from found and stolen sources.”
“The sewing machine is what sews nearly every Animal. His name is Ralph and he’s a stubborn bastard. We love and fear him.”
Tell us the story behind the name. How did you land on Animal Handmade?
“The name acknowledges that at the end of the day, we’re all just animals. While we have immensely dense frontal lobes and prehensile digits, most of our actions come from an instinctual place. We are beasts; grunting and humping and feeling from a source deeper than reason. I think it’s beautiful and true and not honored nearly enough.”
Your art and your designs are so personal to you. What’s it like to hand them off to others, and see them in the wild? “It’s incredible and kinda creepy. People have a piece of my story in their homes and hands and life. I feel a little like a trespasser but mostly very very honored to be worthy of taking up space in anyone’s life.” 64
“IT’S ABOUT BEING ON THE PRECIPICE WHERE THERE’S POTENTIAL FOR SOMETHING BEING WONDERFUL OR DISASTROUS. FOR ME, THOSE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT MOMENTS OF EXISTENCE.”
[ G R A C E P E N H A L E ] [ K R I S TA G A R C I A ] By Jess Draper Photography by Kate Rose Production Assist by Adam Wolf
Krista, how did you end up getting involved with Holistic salon?
How did Holistic Salon start? Grace: “I’ve always wanted to own my own salon since beauty school and I’ve been doing hair for about 7 years. When I was in Barcelona about 2 years ago it was like a vision bomb was just dropped on my brain. A divine experience, 100%! All of it came to life; what the space would be like, the name of the business, the vision and purpose for the salon, everything! This space was to be created for women by women to feel safe, supported, inspired and a place where women could come know their inherent beauty, value and identity. That was the beginning and since then I’ve been branding/ marketing the salon on Instagram ever since.
“I ended up getting involved with Holistic Salon when Grace and I met a year ago. “We hit it off immediately and the more we started talking about business, our views on running a salon were the same. Her work ethic is spot on with mine and I loved everything about her brand so we decided to become one!” Grace, you have a history of volunteering in Africa, I would love to hear how you incorporated that aspect of your life into your business? Grace: “Yes, I used to work with a non-profit for several years in my early 20s. During some of that time I worked with other women in Kenya, I taught sex ed and taught girls how to manage their periods. I learned that many girls were going to extreme lengths to be able to even afford feminine products and a lot of these girls were even missing a week’s worth of school every month because of their monthly cycle, resulting in these girls not being able to graduate due to the fact they’ve missed so much school. This is so common world wide!
“The name ‘Holsitic’ derived from not us just carrying and using cleaner products for consumers and the environment, but we desire for other women to see themselves in a holistic way, focusing on the whole rather than just a part of themselves, it’s not just about the physical. It’s about the woman as a whole - inside and out. “Our mission is that every woman who walks through our doors would come know their inherent beauty, value and identity in which they were created. We want for all that come through our doors to find peace in our space and feel loved, genuinely.”
“One of my main goals in opening this space is to create a system to help support women in Kenya and globally to manage their periods and continue their education without missing a day of school, so they can support themselves and their family.”
What does a women run and centered salon mean to you? Krista: “A women run and centered salon to me means building women up, empowering them to be the best they can be, working as a team. I feel like a lot of salons are just very individual when it comes to everyone working there. We want a team.” Grace: “I believe it’s a place to empower and encourage the women we work with, who we serve in our chair and by supporting other female artists, creatives and business women in our community.”
How would you describe your personal style? And how does that tie into the salon? Krista: “My motto is if you look good you feel good. I want the salon to make people feel good when they step in.” Grace: “I would say I do whatever I want, I wear whatever I’m feeling like that day. But to sum it up I would say it’s a boho/rocker vibe. I’m all about my hats, my turquoise jewlery, Levi’s, vintage band tees and boots. I definitely think it plays into the vibe of the salon with our desert, earthy aesthetic for sure.”
Your new space is in Zeppelin Station- what drew you two to this space? Goals for the new salon? Krista: “I love the space because it’s a little on the outskirts of crazy Lodo. It’s in a new part of town that clients and explore and try new things, it’s all part of the appointment experience. Hey, it could turn into a whole day of exploring for them. “Goals for the salon is to find a team of badass women who love their craft and want to learn and grow as a team. We want every guest leaving feeling rejuvenated, beautiful, ready to take on the world! Ha! Or the day by day. “We want to be “the Salon” in RiNo. Women’s go-to for their local salon. Grace: “RiNo has been my spot always, like before it was even RiNo. So naturally I just had to be here. It’s home, where I work, my community is here, socially this is where I always am.
Let’s talk motorcycles: -How long have you two been riding for? -Make and model of motorcycles? -What is The Litas?
“The goal for the space is for our team to feel loved, to feel inspired to create and to love what they do. And for our guests to feel at home, to find peace and to leave feeling beautiful on the inside and out.”
Krista: “I’ve been riding for about a year and half now K I ride a 2009 Harley Sportster/Nightster. The Litas is a women’s motorcycle group and that brings badass women that ride together. To support and empower eachother.” 74
Grace: “I’ve been riding for a year and a half. I have a ‘91 883 Harley Sportster. The Litas is a collective of women of all races, ages and walks of life who share the desire for community and who love the open road and motorcycles. I’m so thankful to be apart of such a rad group of women!”// www.holisticsalon.com @holisticsalon @thelitasdenver @mydarlinglight @krystalballsohard
Scott Young New Work
From the Series “Not In This Lifetime”
K Contemporary 1412 Wazee Street | Denver, CO 80202 | 303.590.9800 | KContemporaryArt.com