Through the high tech boom, this Home Rule municipality of about 19,000 residents has managed to keep its charm of yesteryear. Outside of City Hall, a Miners memorial statue acknowledges the coal miners that populated the area beginning with the Welch mine in 1877. Though the town went through some tumultuous times with mining strikes, union disagreements, and general mining town hooliganism in its early development, the streets of downtown Louisville today reflects the nostalgia of a quieter time with family restaurants, shops, and businesses.This quaint town with a blend of modern and historical relevance has gained national attention in recent years as one of the best places to live in the U.S. In May of 2006, Bert Sperling & Peter Sander, in their book Best Places to Raise Your Family: The Top 100 Affordable Communities in the U.S., ranked Louisville first on their list of best places in the U.S. to raise a family. In August, 2007, Money magazine listed Louisville as third over all and “Best in the West” on its annual “Best Places to Live”. They “focused on smaller places that offered the best combination of economic opportunity, good schools, safe streets, things to do and a real sense of community.” The Money article highlighted Louisville”s “old wooden buildings downtown still give the place the feel of a small frontier town,” and described the “Outdoor life is spectacular.” Add another measure of quality of life – a blossoming arts community.With an impressive staff which has credentials from Broadway to Carnegie Hall, The Art Underground opened its doors in historic downtown Louisville last September in a makeshift studio on Main Street. This month marks the opening of their custom studio, just a block over at 901 Front Street ” complete with dance flooring, mirrors, acoustic balance, and a separate visual arts “create” space. The non-profit organization offers theatre and visual arts for all ages, and music and dance from Celtic to Hip-Hop. In addition to providing high quality arts classes, The Art Underground hosts workshops, art galleries/exhibits and other events, and promotes opportunities for patrons and artists to connect and support a growing arts community.“I love downtown Louisville,” said Lori Jones, Arts Underground Executive Director, “I think it has the potential to be an arts hub, and that”s my ultimate goal, to promote all of the arts in the Louisville area ” that will give a core for downtown and help it strive.” Jones and her family have called Louisville home for 14 years. With a background in teaching and volunteer work she has witnessed good things that happen when people combine with passion and purpose. “I”ve seen it happen before,”, “A great synergy happens when you bring people together to be a part of a community,” said Jones who was delighted with the staff, board of directors, and volunteers who have banded together to make The Art Underground a reality. “It”s incredible how it all came together ” the timing has been just perfect ” it”s something that can”t be planned, it just happened.”Jones helped start the synergy for The Art Underground with discussions with friends and like-minded community members including current Arts Underground Board of Directors Lisa Larisch Phillips, a professional artist with art gallery experience in NYC; Lori Scheiffler, a successful business owner, CPA, with a background in the arts; Terese Carroll, recipient of a Ford Foundation scholarship to the School of American Ballet and the official training academy”of the New York City Ballet while in High School (She ended up going to the University of Virginia Law School and became a corporate lawyer); and Jones who most recently was on the Board of Directors of youth theatre group CenterStage Theatre Company. “Our Board of Directors is small, but each member has brought a great deal of expertise to the endeavor,” said Jones, adding that her co-Board members, “have incredible backgrounds and have been instrumental in pulling this (T.A.U.) together.”“A lot of good-hearted and really talented people have come on board with us” said Jones. Among those people is soon-to-be landlord for the new Art Underground space, Arlin Lehman. According to Jones, Lehman is a supporter for an arts theme in downtown Louisville and has been going above and beyond to try to make the Front Street facility special for The Arts Underground patrons. “It”s a beautiful space with high ceilings and natural light ” and there is room to expand,” said Jones, “Parents can sit on our wonderful patio and watch their children practice.”“Several more individuals have offered their services for free to help make The Art Underground function well…Ileane Olson has jumped in to lend her business expertise to the organization whenever needed,” said Jones, “Many other people have stepped forward to help with a variety of services…office painting, moving from the temp space to the new space, manning the office, marketing and design services ” and even cleaning.”In addition to much help received by local individuals, The Art Underground has partnered with Louisville businesses for mutually beneficial relationships. “We have partnered with the Old Louisville Inn to use their performance space for our Celtic programs,” said Jones, and added that Dana Vachharajani Music and Casablanca Dance Studio in Louisville have agreed to share space for classes.The Arts Underground received a few scholarship donations according to Jones. “I called some local schools to identify possible recipients. The very first recipient was enthusiastically recommended by personnel at one of the schools.” The 8 year-old girl and her two siblings ages 4 and 5 are being raised by a single father who brought them to Louisville to escape the crime in Detroit. When moms of some of the other kids in this little girls’ class heard about the dire circumstances in her family, they sprung into action to help the family with food, gifts and other support. “This has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my job so far.” It’s been very heartwarming to see a sense of community develop in new and different ways from what I had originally anticipated.”Information about The Arts Underground.303-229-1127 or www.theartunderground.org.
The Denver-based Wick School of Irish Dance, founded and directed by Linnane Wick Joseph, is celebrating its twentieth year.”The dancers were joined in Los Angeles by Linnane Wick and Maureen Shea Cerise, a former Wick School championship dancer and current instructor.“I was excited and emotional beyond measure for those kids and there families, for Maureen, and myself ” you know, a lot of hard work had paid off,” said Linnane, whose school has had many champion dancers over the years, but never three at once, “By standards of the Western Regions these days, the Wick”s School is not a huge school so it was pretty phenomenal ” to get three wins.” adding, “I felt like a little kid at my birthday party, not wanting it to end, I kept trying to find somebody else to celebrate or just hang out ” I just didn”t want the night to end ” It was a huge feat, you never know if it is going to happen again so you just bask in the glory of the moment.” All of the solo dancers competeted with 60 or more dancers in their age bracket. It wasn”t just the three first-place Wick dancers who did well. Of the 25 solo competitors 17 placed.” Of those who placed,”seven Wick School dancers qualified to compete in the World Irish Dance Championships over the Easter Holiday in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In addition to the three Oirechtas champions, the other world qualifiers include:” Broccan Ware, Erin Hayes, Annabella Maurera, Claire Morlock, and Emma Anderson.So what did Linnane attribute her schools success? “These kids worked really hard ” at least 3 to 4 practices a week at the studio ” than their practice outside the studio.” And perhaps a little divine inspiration from Fred Wick, Linnanes”s dad and patriarch of the Wick”s School who passed on in September? “Let”s just say that his presence was felt … It would have been great to see his reaction – he would have kept the party going.”
The Hickey”s came across the facility while looking for an investment property to expand their Colorado business interests which include The Celtic Tavern, Delaney”s Bar, and Erin”s Sandwich Shop. “Our first impression when we walked into the building was “Oh my God, this would be perfect for an Irish center or Celtic heritage center.” To get a few more sets of eyes and opinions they called Denver Gaels” Ciaran Dwyer and Martin Concannon and asked them to take a look. They did come and left with the same enthusiastic response as the Hickeys.The facility seemed ideal, with a 3,000 square foot hall and a full commercial kitchen, offices attached and more office space on the second floor, a huge basement, and a half acre garden with a full 1,000 sq. ft. kid”s playground in back. The Hickey”s envisioned the entire ground floor as an Irish center with great meeting space, dancing space, session rooms for musicians. The basement could by used for band practice or performance to smaller crowds. In addition to the main building, there is a 6 bedroom hotel and a cottage.The Hickey”s did have a second sober thought before proceeding with the project. “We started to think of the logistics of trying to get everybody together (Irish/Celtic groups/associations) to try and get the funding and all the rest,” said Noel, “so I just decided, you know what, it would be awful easier if I just bought it myself.” The Hickey”s have begun to lease office space and book events. “There is already a bit of life in there,” said Noel, “The cottage is leased, and we have a general contractor, plumber, architect, Denver Gaels, Erin”s Sandwiches, and AOH (Ancient Order of Hibernians) using office space.” The Hickey”s hope that more folks continue to use the facility for parties” weddings, dances, gigs, anything at all. Noel added, “We have a fully functional kitchen that would be perfect for a catering business.” They are open to most business that would like to be in the building, but Noel stressed, “We would like to create sort of a home for all the Celtic different organizations – without a home you”re always looking for somewhere to hold things, ya know.”“Right now we are just calling it The Celtic Center – it”s going to be called The Celtic Center and Offices,” said Noel about the multi-structure facility located at 1533 Glen Ayr Drive, just north of the 8800 block of West Colfax at the entrance of the Glen Creighton neighborhood. Known simply as “The Glens” because of the Scottish named streets ” Glen Dee, Glen Moor, Glen Garry, Glen Dale, Glen Bar, Glen Gyle, and Glen Ayr ” the area was developed by Cyrus J. Creighton in the early 1920″s when it was just farmland west of Denver. Creighton hired Denver”s leading landscape architect Saco R. DeBoer to design the neighborhood with curving tree-lined lanes intersecting at Creighton Park at the center. It was Denver’s and Lakewood’s first landscaped subdivision with the theme “Glen Creighton is the park for quiet restful homes.” Today The Glens are an ambient enclave of 140 homes on irregular sized lots with eclectic architectural styles reflecting the patchwork growth of Lakewood. And 90 years after its inception, the once Scottish subdivision has “The Celtic Center” as a neighbor.To lease office or kitchen space, or book your event call Noel and Wendy at 720-210-3080by Pat McCullough