Church Project grand opening celebration is July 5

Courtesy photo Artists making paintings at the Church Project.

MONTE VISTA – The grand opening of the Church Project Community Art Center is scheduled for July 5 in Monte Vista. A ribbon cutting will be held at 10 a.m., followed by a Memory Mirror event, a printmaking workshop, an artist talk, and the evening will finish with a dance party from 6 to 8 p.m.

Artist and owner of the Church Project, Madeleine Ahlborn is excited about the upcoming grand opening at 256 S. Broadway St., Monte Vista.

“It’s been a lot of hours of hard work, strong commitment, and dedication. I am excited to see the culmination of some of this with the grand opening. We aren’t completely done with everything, the building will require more work, but I am enthusiastic about opening the doors to more and creating something to help enrich and immerse the community in the true beauty of all things art,” she said.

Ahlborn moved to the San Luis Valley in 2014. She was offered the chance to purchase the beautiful historic building for the Church Project by her former landlord Ron Douglas. Prior to purchasing the building, Ahlborn was renting a space with four other artists, but a couple of the other artists needed to back out on the space. She was unsure of what to do, but knew she wanted to do something else, and knew she wanted it to involve art.

“I think there’s some interesting ideas on how people perceive artists, like you have to be showing in galleries, or you have to always be in your studio working in order to claim the title artist. I am trying to dismantle that idea and show that you can be a great artist anywhere,” she said.

After speaking to Douglas, Ahlborn was given a tour, and then purchased the former church building that is now called the “Church Project.”  Ahlborn said she was scared at first and spoke to one of her close friends about it, who assured her that it was “all going to work out.”

“I don’t know how she knew it was all going to work out, but trusting my own instinct, and trusting in them. I think that’s such a beautiful thing. As a human, trusting in other people is very in the moment. And just really thinking about everything, I believe my purpose in the world is to connect people, whether it’s through space, or connecting them to themselves. After thinking about it, I believed it was all going to work out too,” she said.

Ahlborn was concerned about obtaining the financing for the building but with the help of Douglas obtained a loan through the First Southwest Community fund, that helps rural businesses led by women.

“I was very fortunate to be able to obtain this help. In thinking about it though, I really want this building to not only belong to me, but to belong to the community. I want people to feel that and to believe that they collectively own the building too. I have always wanted to figure out a way that I can give back. I think this is something that really aligns with my own personal values, that I can share with the community, I want to be the lead artist, with everyone in the community, having joint ownership,” she said.

Ahlborn said with all the hours she has put into working on the historic building her deep thinking and vision has become clear as to what she wants to accomplish and do with the space.

“My big goal with this community art center is to provide the space and the freedom for people to unlock their creative potential. This has become the vision for Church Project Community Art Center, also,” she said.

Ahlborn has held different art events at the Church Project. She will be hosting workshops for artists and other artists will be hosting workshops. Her idea is to bring many different artist-led events and projects to the building.

Ahlborn will also host a Memory Mirror event the day of her grand opening. The event is to allow anyone who enters the Church Project building to speak and be recorded, regarding any memories they may have of the building when it was a church or of any other memories they may have of the building. The memories will later be played in an artist display that will take place at Adams State University, with pictures of her working on the building that will be on display, along with the audio playing in the background.

Ahlborn is also looking forward to her idea of having upstairs pews at the Church Project, dedicated in memory of family members for the community. The idea would be for family members to purchase a pew that will stay upstairs, but in front of the pew a plaque of a family member will be placed in memory of that family member.

Ahlborn has many ideas for the Church Project and is looking forward to bringing all of them to life, and giving back to the community that she has come to love so much.

“It’s not going to solve everyone’s problems, but the aspect of creation, and giving people a space where they can come together. I am really trying to encompass a oneness with the world around us, to highlight our similarities versus focusing on our differences, and the only way to do that is to spend time together and build a sense of community. There are a lot of folks that are hungry to connect, and I am hoping this can be a space for that,” she said.