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Meet Rachel Basye of Art Students League of Denver in Speer Neighborhood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Basye.

Rachel Basye is Executive Director at the Art Students League of Denver (ASLD), an artistic community where people of all abilities are guided by professional artists to reach their highest potential. She serves on the Denver Commission for Cultural Affairs and is currently the co-chair. She is an advisor for the newly formed Westwood Creative District, in Denver’s Westwood neighborhood. In 2015, she was selected to be a Bonfils-Stanton Livingston Fellow, in recognition of her non-profit leadership abilities. She is a practicing artist, and a member of The Mix, an artists’ collaborative in Denver’s Santa Fe Arts District. Ms. Basye received her BA in International Affairs and German and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Colorado.

From 1994-2012, I worked at the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority. While there, I served on the ASLD Board from 2005-2011. In 2012, I was hired as the Executive Director. Given my business experience and artist background, ASLD was an exciting opportunity for me to pursue when the former executive director retired.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
My time at ASLD has been a wonderfully exciting and challenging position. Maintaining a historic building, supervising a faculty of over 150 artists and a team of 14 admin staff and learning how to be an effective fundraiser have all been opportunities for me to grow. I learn something new every day, even if it is something I didn’t want to know!

The team at ASLD is amazing–staff, faculty, board and volunteers. I feel fortunate to work with such a great group of people who are committed to Colorado’s arts and culture community.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Art Students League of Denver – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
ASLD’s mission is to provide an inclusive art community where professional artists guide individuals of all abilities to reach their highest potential. ASLD was founded in 1987, and we have been offering art courses in a wide variety of visual arts media since that time. Currently, we have over 150 professional artists on our faculty and teach art to more than 900 people, of all ages and abilities, each month. The advantage of our program design is that anyone can participate and there are no grades or degree required.

Our hands-on art workshops use art as a vehicle for inspiration, expression, creativity, connection and civic engagement. Participants have the opportunity to cultivate their voices, find strength in their vision, and develop critical thinking skills as they learn how to communicate and express their ideas visually.

PROGRAMS (in alphabetical order):
-Art Courses: over 630 workshops and ongoing classes in all visual arts media, for children, teens and adults.

-Creativity Uncorked: an opportunity for groups to have an art experience with one of our professional faculty members.

-Demo & Dialogue: monthly presentations that introduce our instructors to the larger regional community. Past and current host locations have included: Meininger Art Supply, Museum of Outdoor Arts, Art District on Santa Fe, and 40West Arts District.

-Exhibits: ASLD hosts a variety of exhibitions at our historic Grant Street location and in partnership with various creative spaces throughout the community. Representing the diversity of the thriving Denver arts community, our exhibitions also provide an opportunity to examine current trends and purchase original fine art from faculty, students, and celebrated artists from across the U.S. In 2013, ASLD expanded exhibits to offsite venues to increase visibility. We have exhibited in The Pattern Shop, Niza Knoll Gallery, Republic Plaza, Abecedarian Gallery, SPACE Gallery, ArtHaus, RedLine, McNichols and at the Capitol.

-International Travel: designed to experience contemporary art fairs, private collections, behind the scenes, museum tours and culinary arts.

-KidArt and Teen Studio Summer Camps: 10 weeks of day camps in 2D and 3D media for ages 6-17 years. Summer is a time to discover the fundamentals of art! All youth programming emphasizes the fundamental elements and essential vocabulary of art, encouraging students to explore and communicate as they create. Students gain skills in various media – including paint, clay, wire, fiber, and so much more – taught and guided by our professional art educators. 1200 youth participate annually
-Open Studios: allows member artists to work in our studios when no course is taking place to ensure artists have affordable working space.

-Professional Development Series: in collaboration with RedLine and Clyfford Still Museum, this program covers all aspects of the business of art and the tools necessary to be successful entrepreneurs.
-Studio Atelier: an immersive experience working alongside an established professional in a small, focused setting. Students have a private studio to use for the duration of the program, sometimes as long as eight weeks.

-Studio tours: a behind the scenes look at artists’ studios.

-Summer Art Market: annual event showcasing works for sale from more than 250 ASLD members.
-Teen Studio: A year-round, drop-in art program for young artists ages 14 to 18 that delivers quality art training to teens from all backgrounds, provides portfolio building opportunities, and encourages positive social engagement. ASLD’s professional artist faculty engages the teens in learning new skills, experimenting artistically, and developing their creative voice in a supportive, safe environment. The drop-in format and individualized instruction allow teens to be at the helm of their artistic interests and curiosities. The program has become an important home for teens to spend their Friday nights, a place where they can find likeminded peers, form friendships, be weird, get creative, and affirm their self-expression. 985 teens participated last year.

-Visiting Artist Series (VAS): entering its 18th year brings 4-6 notable artists to Denver from across the nation and international venues. These artists complement existing ongoing classes and workshops, diversify our programming to include new artistic perspectives and media, and broaden teaching practices to enrich and enliven our faculty and engage with the community beyond our four walls through interactive hand on workshops.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Part of the ASLD strategy is to design art workshops in a variety of settings directed to different demographics and audiences, to engage people from all areas of our community in creating art, providing access, connection and expression. ASLD’s community engagement programs provide free afterschool, evening and weekend workshops throughout the metro area, in libraries, schools and community centers. These experiences are open to all ages and abilities and offer the same high quality workshops for which we are known to communities unable to access our programs onsite.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We are focused on increasing awareness about who we are and what we do and finding new ways to make our programs accessible to everyone in our community. We’re doing this in a number of ways–offering new media and adding diverse faculty, going to seven days a week of programming, taking programs offsite, offering more scholarships and free/reduced price programming, and better marketing/communications.

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Getting in touch: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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