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Walk through the antique door of the colorful Queen Anne Victorian at 741 Pearl Street, and you’ll be surrounded by beauty. The lofty ceilings, stained glass windows, and hardwood floors of the landmark 1880 Montgomery house provide an elegant setting for colorful displays of jewelry, textiles, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, and even a few wild pairs of custom cowboy boots. This is the New Local, and it’s devoted to shining a light on Boulder-area artists and artisans who are female or female-identifying.
Marie-Juliette Bird, a Boulder native and fine jewelry designer, founded the New Local in the winter of 2019 when she recruited a few artist friends to join her for a short-term pop-up gallery in a leased space. “It was a very palpably exciting and positive experience for everybody,” Bird recalls. “The community loved coming into the space—discovering local art and being able to meet the people who made the work.” The set-up also benefited the artists. “Being able to share the expenses of the space and not having to give away so much of our profit was really helpful financially,” Bird says. The collaborative format also gave access to resources like marketing and bookkeeping to individuals who had been struggling to manage on their own. “Then the final magical piece was social media,” Bird says. “That’s kind of different from the amazing co-ops that popped up in the 1960s,” she notes. “Now every artist, designer, and maker has a social media following, so when you have a collective group like this, your exposure just increases exponentially.”
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Inspired by their success, Bird incorporated the New Local as a nonprofit, with a permanent home that opened in mid-November 2022. “We were looking for a couple of years for the right space,” Bird says. “We connected with a few different organizations that directed us to various people, and I felt like it was really kind of a community effort.” That neighborly welcome continued when the gallery debuted. “Since we opened our doors, the response from the community has been so positive,” Bird says. And the creators are enthusiastically embracing their new opportunities. “There has been so much feedback—that artists really need a place to showcase their work and to give back to the community through classes, and that women need their own space where they can uplift each other,” she explains. Now, the old house has come to life again, with a busy schedule of art classes and workshops for all ages.
Open calls for artists will come up every six months, so the work in the gallery can continue to change as a jury selects new creatives on a regular basis. “Nobody is in it to make money off of the artists,” Bird says. “Our gallery structure is completely nonprofit—the artists earn a 70-percent commission rate, and 30 percent goes back into maintaining the space.”
Moreover, Bird is committed to celebrating female-identifying artists. “I keep having this vision—I think it’s also from being in this space, which is from 1880—of all the people who came west, and there were these really hard mountain towns, and the men were mining and building, and so often it was the women who were bringing culture and art and beauty and education,” Bird says. “I feel like we’re still doing the same work.” In her eyes, the graceful Montgomery house evokes that era and its pioneering spirit, with a distinctly feminine voice that she’s intent on honoring. “The thing that we look for [in selected artists] is that you can feel a creator’s voice coming through their work, and that you can feel their hand in the work,” Bird says. “We are also very interested in promoting excellence—the bar is high here.”
Lynette Errante, Beth Naumann, Sarah Kinn, and Anne Zaug are among the 55 artists currently showing their work and sharing their individual voices at the New Local—and gallery visitors can expect to be dazzled. For example, Bird enjoys the visceral reaction that people have to Sarah Kinn’s paintings. “The way she uses color is so joyful; people just fall in love with her work,” Bird says. Woodworker Anne Zaug uses a lathe to create gorgeous bowls and vases that Bird describes as delicate and feminine; Beth Naumann’s sculptural brass wall hangings can move and create shadows. “It really looks like it’s woven tapestry in brass,” Bird says. Ceramicist Lynette Errante honors nature through her work, making imprints of the plants and flowers she finds on her walks around Boulder. “I think it’s really uplifting,” Bird says. “And it has a beautiful simplicity that makes people happy.”
With the New Local, Bird and her partners have set their sights on a new paradigm. “It really is about collaboration over competition; it’s about creating community and supporting each other,” Bird says. And Boulder is only the beginning of her vision. Bird hopes to inspire a larger movement, with a network of New Locals across the country, and she’s currently searching for the perfect location in Denver.
If you go: The New Local is located at 741 Pearl Street in downtown Boulder. Open Monday–Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit thenew-local.org for information about upcoming workshops, classes, exhibitions, and other events.