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The Notebook Project

When local artist K8E Orr and MAC Executive Director Natalie Johnson looked at the approaching winter months, they knew this winter would be different. The dampening effect of the pandemic on social gatherings, combined with a season that can be challenging for some, inspired them to develop the Notebook Project. “Natalie asked me if I would be interested in developing a winter community art project, and I said ‘yes’ right away,” said K8E. Over the course of several meetings, they worked out the basic concept of what would become the Notebook Project.

“I am a huge believer in the healing power of Art, and with everything that was happening in 2020, I thought people could use a safe virtual environment in which to express themselves,” she said. “I was also aware that this winter might feel longer than past winters, so I wanted to create a loving community where everyone had someone to look forward to.”

a selection of examples from the notebook project

Currently, there is a notebook library in New York, but to Orr’s knowledge, there are not any Colorado organizations who are curating a similar project. More than 150 people have signed up to participate in the Notebook Project, mostly on Facebook, but also a few on Instagram. “Most of our participants are silent members, but there are about 20 who are actively engaging and posting their work every week,” says K8E. The community project is slated to cover 17 weeks, but may go longer. 

At the beginning of the project, participants picked up their notebooks from the MAC, and waited for their first prompt. Orr, who is a volunteer guide for the participants and the project, provides a weekly prompt around a theme or concept. “The purpose of the prompts is to provide some focus, allow participants to get in touch with themselves and to engage with the Arts and community.” The prompts aren’t mandatory and Orr encourages participants to pursue any idea that they may find interesting. “But the response from the prompts have been largely positive, and our participants seem to enjoy having some structure every week. Sometimes a prompt can help a participant explore material that they may not otherwise choose to do if they were working independently.”

When the project is concluded, there are plans in the works to showcase the notebooks in some form. “I am not sure how it will look yet, but we hope that people are exposed to this project via a public showing,” said Orr. She continues to provide the prompts, “and hopefully love and encouragement along the way. Our participants who have submitted beautiful, vulnerable, and introspective pieces. We’ve seen amazing reflections on love and grief, kindness from strangers, and aspirations about the future. The community has been full of support and love of Art.”

Orr’s favorite aspect of the project is seeing the artwork that people have created and how supportive the community has been. She hopes that, with project funding, she is able to provide a space in which to continue the project. “I just want to thank everyone who is posting, encouraging other artists, and doing the project, whether in public or private. I am so grateful for the Arts community in Manitou and I hope this project has helped and encouraged others as much as it has helped me.”

Grace Slattery:The Youngest Art Collector

When 8-year-old Grace Slattery saw a piece of art that spoke to her, she knew she had to have it. So, using her own money, she purchased “Calm Dignity”, an oil painting by local artist Carol Maynard. She had seen the piece at the Manitou Art Center in the First Amendment Gallery.

She considers it the first piece in what will become her personal art collection. “Artwork is very creative,” says Grace. “Art is my happy place.” “Calm Dignity” was special to her from the minute she saw it. “I love lions,” she says. “The artwork was amazing!” She enthusiastically encourages other kids to collect art. “Do it!”

Grace’s love for art comes naturally, as she is herself an artist. “It’s fun to make art. It’s creative.” Her current interests in art include “animals, skies, landscapes and make-believe animals.” Especially dragons. “I love making dragons, drawing dragons and filling them in with paints, crayons and colored pencils,” she says. “The last dragon I made was an Ice Dragon.” And while dragons may be a favorite, Grace has a special place in her heart for Frankie, her dog. “My dog is a cute puppy. I like making pictures of my dog---I put one in my locket.”

Grace the art collector

Keep an eye on our newest collector, and let’s hope she inspires other young people to start their own collections!



Your Neighborhood Art Center for 32 Years

Music, theatre, pottery, printmaking, and other loud, slightly dangerous, and intensely messy events happen here daily. Locals and tourists alike flock to our galleries, studios, exhibition space, and classrooms.  Our spacious facilities can also accommodate events, conferences and offices. experiences are unlimited - how will you enjoy the MAC?

Hours: Tuesday to Thursday 10am to 6pm, Friday and Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sunday and Monday CLOSED

Address: 513/515 Manitou Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829 

Phone: (719) 685-1861 

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