Junction Box - 1075 Park Avenue West


Funding Received: 2013
Denver, CO
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
November 8, 2013

Wonderbound Company Artists Brandon Freeman and Marian Faustino in rehearsal for "A Gothic Folktale;" photo by Amanda Tipton

As Wonderbound moved into mid-September, we got down to the hard work creating our season opening production, "A Gothic Folktale." This collaborative project includes all new music by Colorado Singer/Songwriter Jesse Manley and magic by Denver Illusionist/Mentalist Professor Phelyx.

Along the way, we had multiple opportunities to gather people together at Junction Box as well as share our passion with the community through our local media.

National Assembly of State Arts Agencies 2013 Professional Development Institute - State arts agency education managers from around the nation convened in Denver from September 16 -18 for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) 2013 Professional Development Institute (PDI), hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) in conjunction with the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE). On the evening of September 16, PDI attendees headed to a reception held by our neighbors at RedLine before joining us at Junction Box for dinner.


El Mariachi Juvenil de Bryant Webster performs for NASAA Professional Development Institute attendees at Junction Box; photo by Garrett Ammon.

The dinner started off with music by El Mariachi Juvenil, an incredible after school music program for students at Bryant Webster Dual Language ECE-8 School in Denver. These talented students played a collection of traditional mariachi songs which concluded with a great rendition of "La Bamba."

As the attendees finished their meal, provided by our friends at Footers Catering, I had the pleasure of sharing a little about the work Wonderbound is doing at Junction Box before we presented excerpts from "Memories and Well Grounded Hopes," our collaboration with Klezmer fusion band Hal Aqua and the Lost Tribe.


A view of Junction Box from the street during CCD No. 1's Second Annual Collaboration Dinner; photo by Evan Semon

Second Annual Community Coordinating District No. 1 Collaboration Dinner - In October of 2012, Community Coordinating District No. 1 (CCD No. 1) President and Urban Market Partners Owner Amy Harmon organized the first collaboration dinner for stakeholders in Denver's northwest downtown neighborhoods. On that night, guests were seated between used cars in the space that would eventually become Junction Box. At the time, there was no guarantee that our vision for the future of this space would come to fruition, but Amy dared to bring people together and talk openly about the big ideas we were hatching.

Less than a year later, on September 18, the second annual dinner was held in the same space (the used cars now having been replaced by the artists of Wonderbound). Eighty community leaders came together with no agenda but to gather together, celebrate, reflect on what has been achieved thus far and be re-energized to further transform our neighborhood.

The artists of Wonderbound performed for the guests before they sat down at long tables and enjoyed a communal dinner provided by Three Tomatoes Catering.


From left, CCD No. 1 President Amy Harmon and City Councilman Albus Brooks watch a video with other community leaders during the Second Annual Collaboration Dinner; photo by Evan Semon

Project: Generations - For the past two years, Wonderbound has been expanding Project: Generations, a program designed to be an ongoing dialog with our elders. In September, Wonderbound launched Phase II of this project as company artists joined Dance/Movement Therapist Heather Sutton at Saint Paul Health Center and The Argyle to dance, converse and make art with assisted living residents.

Here is a video, which was produced last year, that shares more about the project: YouTube -- Project: Generations.


A charcoal drawing of Wonderbound's Julie King and Sarah Tallman by Artist and ASL Instructor Mitch Caster

The Figure in Motion - Beginning on September 21, Art Students League of Denver began a four-week course titled The Figure in Motion at Junction Box.

Students of all ages and abilities joined Wonderbound each Saturday and gathered around the rehearsal space to sketch the dancers during the creation process of "A Gothic Folktale." There is nothing like having so many artists gathered in one space at the same time, all working, and all focused on their craft.

Wonderbound Retreat - After wrapping our rehearsal day a little early on September 21, the artists, staff and board of Wonderbound gathered at Junction Box for our inaugural retreat. Facilitated by Susan France, who recently retired from Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, this gathering gave everyone the opportunity to reflect on our journey thus far, discuss what Wonderbound is to each of us and begin to envision the future for our unique organization.


Wonderbound enjoying its first family dinner together at Junction Box; photo by Garrett Ammon

After robust and productive conversations, in both small groups and large, the entire organization sat down to a family dinner generously provided by Fuel. The following day, Wonderbound's board of trustees continued the conversation by digging deep into their evolving role in the organization.

Now Showing - On September 26, Westword (Denver's weekly newspaper) published their fall arts guide and I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Susan Froyd for the issue: Denver Westword -- Now Showing: Garrett Ammon and Laura Ann Samuelson on dance and the arts.

All-Acess Pass - For their October issue, 5280 Magazine featured Junction Box, Wonderbound and our open door policy with a story by Dahlia Singer: 5280 Magazine -- All-Access Pass.

Teaser Episode #2 - On October 4, we had the pleasure of giving the community a sneak-peak of "A Gothic Folktale" during our second Teaser Episode. Guests gathered and mingled while enjoying beverage as well as food provided by our friends and neighbors at The Lobby. My wife and Producing Director Dawn Fay kicked off the evening by introducing Jesse Manley and His Band.

I continued the evening by sharing a bit about the creative process for this unique production before introducing Professor Phelyx who completely confounded the audience with his amazing mentalist capacities. From mind-reading to fork-bending, Phelyx is a master of his craft.


Company Artist Marian Faustino sharing a scene from "A Gothic Folktale" during Wonderbound's Teaser Episode #2; photo by Amanda Tipton

And, of course, we gave the crowd several tastes of the dancing that is in store at the full production. Though we did tease them by stopping short in one movement, just before Candice Bergeron began dancing blindfolded with two swords.

We closed out the evening by sharing some of Costume Designer Rachel Kras's creations and then opening the floor for questions from the crowd.

Here is a story by Mindy Sink about our favorite Illusionist and his work with Wonderbound: Confluence Denver -- Professor Phelyx and the Trick of Mentalism.

In addition, here is a Q&A about the upcoming production by Erica Prather: 303 Magazine -- A Gothic Folktale.

And finally, a story by Stephanie Wolf: Dance Informa Magazine -- Wonderbound Kicks of its Inaugural Season with A Gothic Folktale.

Recent Wins
The Junction Box family was humbled to learn that we have some awards coming our way in the near future. I was honored to learn that I will be receiving the Arts Innovation Award from the Denver Mayor's Awards for Excellence in Arts & Culture on November 14. Congratulations to my fellow award winners; Café Cultura (Youth Arts Award), the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival (Impact Arts Award) and Darla Rae (Global Arts Award).

Here is a story by John Wenzel about the awards announcement: Denver Post -- Garrett Ammon, Dragon Boat Festival, Café Cultura win Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Arts & Culture.

We were also delighted to learn that Amy Harmon would be receiving the Ann Love Award from Historic Denver on October 23 for turning 1075 Park Avenue West into Junction Box and Wonderbound's home. The other honorees are former Denver Mayor Frederico Peña (Keystone Award) and Jayne Buck (Molly Brown Award).

Check out this story by Dennis Huspeni about the announcement: Denver Business Journal -- Historic Denver tabs former Denver Mayor Peña for top award.



Wonderbound Company Artists Brandon Freeman and Marian Faustino in rehearsal for "A Gothic Folktale;" photo by Amanda Tipton

When Wonderbound inhabited Junction Box in March, we made a significant decision to open our creative process to our community. Virtually every day we have guests in the space who, depending on the hour and day they show up, may see a full run-thru of a new ballet, an inspired period of rapid choreographic creation, or an agonizingly slow process of negotiating just a few seconds of movement.

As artists, we no longer have the expectation that we can perfect and refine something before it is shared with the outside world, and to do our best work, we must be comfortable with allowing ourselves to be utterly vulnerable in front of total strangers. Though we don't make an effort to change how we work when a guest is in the space, we have become willing participants in what science refers to as the "observer effect" -- change that occurs to a phenomenon because of the act of observing it.

There is no denying that we have all changed because of Wonderbound's open door policy -- it places new kinds of expectations on everyone in the organization, it is highly demanding, and is not unlike having someone peer over your shoulder as you type. It is also one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever known. I am deeply proud of how all of Wonderbound's artists have embraced our new reality, though I acknowledge that it would not be right for every artist, nor every organization. But, if you are an artist or a member of an arts organization, I encourage you to find ways of sharing the creative process with the outside world from time to time, if for no other reason than to be able to ask yourself, "what was the most uncomfortable part of doing that?"