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HEART BEAT ARTIST OF THE MONTH: Lisa Bartlett

An artlandish vision helps transform a community

COLUMBIA, Mo 10/3/14 (Profile) -- Think of virtually any part of the downtown arts scene -- galleries, Orr Street, the North Village Arts District, Artrageous Fridays -- and one name comes to mind. 

Columbia's terrific arts-driven renaissance may owe more to Lisa Braman Bartlett than anyone else.   Her drive, vision, and stick-tuitiveness saw artists creating, mingling, and selling in the dusty, drab, derelict corners of the once-forgotten, long-empty warehouses serial renovators like John Ott spent millions to preserve and repurpose. 

And repurposed those spaces have been, into a thriving creative community that would be the envy of any city or town. 

An early participant and enthusiastic promoter of Artrageous Fridays -- a festive gallery crawl artist Chris Teeter and then-downtown gallery owner Jennifer Perlow started in 2007 that kicks off again this month -- Bartlett is our Heart Beat Artist of the Month for October. 

A mixed-media muralist whose larger-than-life art installations have turned the annual Roots, Blues, and BBQ music celebration into a "feast and fest for the eyes" as well as the ears, Bartlett may be best known for her stylishly-quirky downtown arts centerpiece, Artlandish.    A marvel of repurposing for preservation, her Artlandish gallery features sixty artists working and showing upstairs and down, in a subterranean lair of nooks and tunnels known as the Catacombs

The gallery, it seems, is an extension of its owner's work-a-day philosophy.  “Salvaging things from the past that are kind of obsolete but can be reconstituted into artwork — that’s an inspiration for me,” Bartlett told Vox Magazine, for one of dozens of interviews and profiles that have featured her work and ideas. 

A natural organizer who enjoys the social nature of artistic creation, Bartlett has put her stamp on the visual side of Roots and Blues since 2009.   Last year, a team she led created hundreds of glowing butterflies and dragonflies and other "ephemereal, festival-encompassing" creations that brought together art and technology on a scale she called "vast."   

This year, Bartlett and her team assembled "GuitarHenge" -- a circular array of whimsically-designed 8-foot tall guitars ala Stonehenge displayed around town before coming together at the festival.   

Sponsors purchased a guitar for $500 as part of a Blues in the Schools music education fundraiser

As a music-education-visual-inspiration-festival-installation, GuitarHenge (below) was vintage Bartlett:  outlandish, outrageous, and outside, alive in a community that finds itself better off for her artlandish passion.


As our Artist of the Month, Bartlett joins choral musicians Jazz Rucker and Emily Edginton-Andrews; actor-directors Emily Adams and Elizabeth Braaten Palmieri; painters Marilyn Cummins, Rodney Burlingame, Byron Smith, Kate Gray, and Catherine Parke; actor-director Ed Hanson; mixed media artists Jenny McGee and Lizzie Bryan; photographer Anastasia Pottinger; and Missouri Symphony maestro Kirk Trevor.


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